Cull dairy cows as a flexible tool for pasture control on East Coast hill country


  • P.D. Muir
  • B.C. Thomson
  • K.R. Ward
  • N. Bicknell


On East Coast hill country, climate change and variable pasture growth mean that there is an opportunity for a more flexible cattle system than the traditional beef cow. Cull dairy cows were purchased in autumn/winter across 3 years and several properties and used to clean up low quality winter feed (8.3 MJME/kg DM; crude protein content, 10.7%). In spite of the low quality feed on offer, winter liveweight gains averaged 238 g/day. Cows were set stocked over spring and growth rates averaged 749 g/day. Cows were slaughtered/sold when the spring/summer "clean-up" had been completed. Across three quite different years, cows were typically farmed for 34 weeks, put on an average of 115.3 kg and had estimated returns of 14.1 c/kg DM consumed. Variation in purchase price, weight gain and timing of slaughter resulted in returns ranging from 8.7 to 28.1 cents/kg DM consumed. These calculated returns do not include the effects of removing low quality feed on other farm enterprises. Keywords: cull dairy cows, pasture management, flexibility, gross margin, East Coast dryland, hill country






Past volumes