Start your stocktake now

18 February 2016

Now is the perfect time for northern producers to start planning for the next dry season. 

Adjusting stocking rates to meet current feed supply, animal requirements, and ground cover targets is considered best management practice within a grazing business. And best management practice in the grazing industry is about implementing grazing fundamentals that are most effective at achieving a productive, profitable and sustainable grazing business.

Getting organised now means you don’t miss anything, and will not leave the job of calculating your forage budget and adjusting paddock stocking rates too late.

The things you can do now include:

  • mapping your paddocks
  • understanding how your paddocks are being used by stock considering how water distribution and land type differences are affecting stock grazing patterns
  • deciding what areas are priority to do a forage budget on first
  • deciding which stock to sell or move first and which stock might be kept and sold later in the year

A handy budgeting tool

A forage budget will help you decide if it is safe to carry more stock, carry the same number for longer, or if there is not enough pasture to safely carry the number you have for the length of time you want. Safely carrying more stock for longer can help boost profits.

On the other hand, calculating that you will run out of feed early can help to minimise expensive supplementary feeding and assist in preserving land condition.

For example, a forage budget may indicate that between May and December you can carry 400 adult equivalents (AE) in a particular paddock based on the total pasture yield.  If the paddock historically carries 300 AE, then you have identified an opportunity to increase your stock numbers safely.

A forage budget also allows for the opportunity to devise a targeted sell-off plan if grass growing rain is not received during the planned grazing period. This means you could sell your cattle earlier than those who decide to hold stock and are taking the risk that seasonal conditions won’t deteriorate further and result in a decline in animal condition. 

To help you with your forage budgeting and land condition management, the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries’ FutureBeef team, with support from MLA, has developed the Stocktake Plus app.

The app is a grazing, monitoring and management decision support tool for producers and advisors predominantly located in northern Australia but it also has some useful functionality for producers located in other regions of Australia.

The app allows the user to determine the appropriate balance of stock to the available pasture.

Producers can set up their own properties and paddocks and the app will then produce reports, based on pasture estimates, including long-term carrying capacity and land condition benchmarks.

It will help you to plan for wet season paddock spelling to improve land condition and take better care of your pastures.

As a producer once said…“I look after my pastures, the pastures look after my cattle and my cattle look after me.”

The app’s mobility allows users to capture data while in the paddock and later securely synchronise their device (via Wi-Fi or 3G access) and upload the data to their personal account. This allows users to:

  • capture important production data for analysis
  • manage property resources
  • understand their property environment over time
  • view and export data through a personal and secure portal

If you have an Apple or Android device you can download the Stocktake Plus app from - www.stocktakeplus.com.au.

Factsheets on how to use the Stocktake Plus app can also be found on this website.

For more information or to learn more about forage budgeting and how to use the Stocktake Plus app, or express an interest in attending a Stocktake workshop, please contact Kiri Broad (DAF Longreach), kiri.broad@daf.qld.gov.au or mobile 0428 102 841. 

 

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