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Time to make the tough decisions

Helen Schaefer, Far South Coast District Vet, Local Land Services.

We have received an increase in drought related enquiries and reports of animal welfare concerns in the past couple of weeks. We expect conditions to worsen over the coming months, which will force livestock owners to make some tough decisions.

We don’t want to see any livestock lose condition to the point where there welfare is compromised. We are calling on farmers to be making decisions now, ‘wait and see’ is no longer a viable option.

FEED:

  • feed enough of the right feed
  • early lactating animals require significantly more feed than dry animals. They can’t eat enough dry paddock feed or hay to meet their requirements – they need grain or pellets as well. The same is true for heavily pregnant animals
  • dry stock can do well on good quality dry paddock feed or good quality hay alone
  • consider availability, affordability of feed and if you can physically manage it
  • do Not give hungry stock free access to grain or pellets. Introduce pellets or grain gradually.

To give you an idea of how much is enough, below is a very rough guideline (based on “Managing Drought” & “Drought Calculator App” DPI) of how many kgs/head/day stock require using the example of a mix of 80% DDG pellets + 20% hay:

DDG +  hay

Cows, lactating (500kg)                      8.0kg + 2.0kg              ( - )

Young cattle     (250kg)                       3.0kg + 0.5kg              (or 5.0kg hay)

Adult Dry cattle (450kg)                      4.0kg + 1.0kg              (or 7.0kg hay)

Ewes & lambs                                     1.2kg + 0.3 kg             ( - )

25kg weaner lambs                            0.50kg + 0.10kg          (or 1.0 kg hay)

Dry ewes/wethers                               0.50kg + 0.05kg          (or 1.0 kg hay)

SELL:

  • stock in good condition are continuing to get good prices
  • start with selling “passengers” in a breeding enterprise, then the older breeders
  • sell while you have saleable stock. Use the money to pay for feed for the stock you keep, or keep the money aside to restock later.

OTHER:

  • consider early weaning of calves (eg. >100kg) and lambs (>10kg)
  • consider stock water availability
  • you must make a decision that suits you and your situation. What is right for your neighbour may not be right for you.

More information:  consult a private nutritionist, contact Local Land Services, online - DPI DroughtHub

LLS will be holding drought information sessions in Moruya, Cobargo, Bega and Towamba in the first week of September. More details to come.

ENDS

Media contact: Dave Michael, South East Local Land Services, 0418 513 880