Managing the dry

21 January 2016

Planning ahead and doing your numbers were the key to messages delivered at the recent Supplementary Feeding workshops held in Tasmania in late 2015.

The sessions were delivered through MLA’s More Beef from Pastures (MBfP) and Making More From Sheep (MMFS) programs (MMFS is jointly funded with Australian Wool Innovation).

At the workshops, livestock production advisor Nikki Armstrong and agribusiness consultant Jason Lynch presented their top tips on managing a dry season and they now share them here:

  • Feed budgeting, with tools like MLA’s Feed Demand Calculator, can assist in making the decision whether to destock or supplementary feed.
  • Early decision making is key when it comes to de-stocking in order to receive a higher price before the market is flooded and to ensure remaining animals will have sufficient feed.
  • Know the energy requirements of different animals and the energy content of various feed and fodder options to help determine the priority animals for retaining on farm and providing supplementary feed to.
  • Compare the energy provided by different feed sources (taking into account their dry matter content) to identify the most cost effective feed source to suit individual situations.
  • Upskill in pasture management through locally run pasture management courses and the MBfP and MMFS online modules (pasture growth and utilisation) to maximise productivity from your pasture resource.

Sheep producer Richard Burbury from Woodbury in Tasmania’s south attended the Tunbridge event and went home armed with knowledge to help him plan ahead.

“The workshop really highlighted the number of tools available to help make informed decisions and take the guess work out of managing tough seasonal situations," he said.

Pasture management courses are currently being organised for Tasmanian producers through MBfP and MMFS programs.

The course involves two days of theory in February, followed by six on-farm group coaching sessions in the months ahead to support participants in putting the theory into practice. Places are still available, with groups forming across the state.

For more information contact Penny Hooper - phooper@macfrank.com.au

Other MLA tools and resources available to help plan for and manage dry conditions include:

Tips for a tough season supplementation
Stocking rate calculator

Cost of production calculator

Rainfall to pasture growth tool

Condition scoring for beef cattle

Condition score targets for all sheep classes

More Beef from Pastures

Making More From Sheep

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