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Winter + drought = tough times for breeding stock

Local Land Services staff are encouraging graziers to check the condition of their livestock as well as the quantity and quality of the feed (pasture or supplement) they are receiving as lambing and calving ramps up across the Monaro.

Lambing ewes and calving cows experience a rapid escalation in their feed requirements. Ewes in their last month of pregnancy require 70% more feed than a dry or early pregnant ewe. This requirement increases to 250% of that of a dry sheep for their first month of lactation easing back to 180% during the second and third month of lactation. Twin rearing ewes can require 330% of a dry sheep’s feed at their peak point of lactation.

Late pregnant cows require 40% more feed than a dry cow with this increasing to 60% after calving.

Feeding Tips:

  • Feed enough of the right feed for each class of animal. You can calculate this amount by using the NSW DPI’s Managing and Preparing for Drought guide available online or from your local LLS office.
  • Know the quality of the feed you are providing. Feed quality testing kits are available at the Local Land Services office.
  • 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 much stock require in kg/head/day using the example of a mix of pellets of 12ME (ie DDG or Ambos), or grain of 13ME (ie Barley, Wheat, Lupins) mixed 80:20 with hay of 9ME (Oaten, Wheaten, Lucerne).

Other things to consider:

  • Water quality for livestock is important. If water supplies are running low, consider the capacity to source external water supplies if needed.
  • Stock in good condition continue to get good prices, but stock in light condition do not sell well.
  • Consider early weaning of calves (eg. >100kg) and lambs (>10kg) onto good quality feed.

The latest edition of the NSW DPI - Managing and preparing for drought (8th edn) is now available online at:

Many other drought resources (including up to date information on government subsidies) are located on the NSW DPI DroughtHub website:

Also, Local Land Services will be running seasonal updates and early weaning workshops on the Monaro early October. Keep an eye out for further information in coming weeks.


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