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Stock respond to summer rain

Significant rainfall in late January has provided a boost for livestock across the region, particularly young stock.

South East Local Land Services has been working with Gunning sheep producers Jack and Jennifer Medway of “Hillcrest” to monitor weaner performance and the results have been quite stunning.

Livestock Officer, Matthew Lieschke said results show Merino weaners put on an average of 4.4 kilograms over a six week period from 15 January to 24 February.

“This equates to around 110 grams per head per day,” Mr Lieschke said.

“This was achieved on a ‘green pick’ made up of mainly weeping grass (Microlaena stipoides) pasture.

“Interestingly, the variation between animals was staggering, with some weaners putting on 1 to 1.5 kilograms and others putting on over 6 kilograms.  These results highlight the power of green feed.

“The weaners changed dramatically over the six weeks.  I couldn’t believe that we were looking at the same mob.”

Producer Jack Medway said the weaners really benefited from the green pick.

“The results are impressive, particularly those that put on 4 kilograms or more,” Mr Medway said.

“It will be interesting to see how they go over the next six weeks.”

Mr Lieschke said there is a large variation across the region in terms of seasonal conditions and feed in the paddock.

“Some areas have managed to pick up enough moisture and have been green since early February, while other areas haven’t been so lucky and ground cover is getting low,” he said.

“This obviously has a big impact on the level of supplementary feeding required.

“Producers that have very little paddock feed left will need to feed 550 to 700 grams per head per day of grain to maintain weight in winter lambing ewes.  The higher rate is for first cross ewes.  This rate can be scaled back by around 100 grams per head per day if ewes have access to old dead pasture.

“Weaner sheep don’t need quite as much, around 400 to 500 grams per head per day.  A ration containing 85 per cent barley and 15 per cent lupins.  Again, this rate can be reduced to 200 to 400 grams per head per day if the paddock contains some carry-over dead pasture.”

South East Local Land Services is also encouraging producers to keep an eye out for worms as they can have a huge impact on weight gain and overall performance.

Mr Lieschke said this is best done by doing a worm test to see if a drench is needed.

“Autumn lambing ewes currently need particular attention as nutrient requirements will be going through the roof, especially in twin bearing ewes,” he said.

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