Planning for tough seasons: restocking strategies

26 November 2015

This is the sixth part in our series on planning for tough seasons.

Our fifth part covered destocking, but here experts outline what producers should consider for restocking when the season improves.

Roger Sneath, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries Senior Extension Officer (beef), said sound business plans with a pasture focus can influence how well producers manage drought and rebuild their flocks and herds after a dry spell.  

Making More From Sheep Queensland Coordinator Alex Stirton, an extension officer (sheep) with the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, based in Charleville, added that a written plan will help future decision making.

Roger and Alex have outlined their tips for when the season does break, including the economic and environmental considerations before restocking, such as:

  • Costs: Assess the class of animals the business can afford as well as transport costs which could be high if stock are purchased from outside the region.
  • Cash flow options: If breeders are expensive, trading some dry animals first could provide a quicker cash flow. If capital is short, taking on agistment may be an option.
  • Animal health: Contain and feed weak cattle until there is reasonable ground cover in paddocks. Weak cattle can die trying to eat short, watery green pick.
  • Biosecurity: New livestock can bring animal health issues, such as worms and drench resistance. Consider Queensland’s Ovine Johnes Disease regulations.
  • Land condition: Give pastures time to regrow and let the pastures dictate restocking. Keep an eye on weeds. Redo your forage budget based on seasonal conditions.
  • Reassess: Review your business position, talk with your accountant and bank manager, and review your drought plan. If possible take a break to recharge and step back from the business to review the strategic direction for the future.

Tools:

  • Managing Drought: This guide is a good source of drought planning information.
  • Feeding and managing stock during drought: Links to resources such as drought feeding alternatives, evaluating supplements, early weaning and moving stock during drought.
  • Future Beef: This website contains information on drought strategies as well as links to tools to guide producers through profitable and sustainable enterprise-management strategies.
  • CliMate and Rainman Streamflow: Use these tools to evaluate the probability of receiving useful rain at different times of the year.
  • FORAGE: This tool is located on The LongPaddock website and provides climate and pasture condition information at the individual property level.
  • Grazing Land Management: This course guides producers through management practices to help maintain and improve land condition, such as determining a dry season forage budget and wet season spelling.
  • Drought preparedness checklist: This checklist outlines the important issues that should be considered with drought management.
  • Leading Sheep: Useful resources, including case studies, on drought management.
  • Queensland drought assistance information The Queensland Government and Australian Government offer programs to help farm families, farm businesses and farm communities affected by drought.

More information:

Alex Stirton: E: alex.stirton@daf.qld.gov.au, Roger Sneath: E: Roger.Sneath@daf.qld.gov.au

Read the other articles in this series on planning for tough seasons: 

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