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Dry Season Resources 2.0: The skies have opened

The skies have opened over much of the WA agricultural region. A welcome relief, but we're not yet out of the woods.


On 23 April 2024, we shared a series of dry season resources relevant to sheep and cattle producers covering pasture management, water quality, feeding and nutrition, calculating feed costs, and humane destruction of stock. Find it here.


Here's the next instalment.




SHEEP


Early weaning lambs

  • The feed requirements of a ewe with a lamb at foot are higher than if the ewe and lambs are fed separately. In a difficult season with short feed supplies, early weaning can be a strategy to lower feed costs and enable ewes to regain condition before joining. Lambs can be weaned early once 8-10 weeks of age and minimum 10kg live weight. The timing of marking, vaccinations and mulesing need to be considered. Information on early weaning lambs in a poor season (DPIRD, 2023) For further questions call DPIRD vet Danny Roberts (08) 9892 8535

  • Creep feeding: "Lambs begin to graze and eat solid food as early as 2 weeks of age, but they do not begin to consume significant quantities until about 4 weeks. If ewes are hand-fed during lambing, lambs will be familiar with the supplements and will adapt to creep feeding reasonably readily from around 4 weeks into the lambing period. If lambs do not adapt readily you may need to open the creep pen to the ewes as well for a few days so that they can train their lambs to enter the creep area." Information on creep feeding lambs (NSW DPI, 2006), also see above DPIRD article on early weaning lambs.


Reducing flock numbers


Humane destruction



CATTLE

 


PASTURE MANAGEMENT

  • We're told to defer grazing pastures in Autumn / early Winter until they reach 500-800 kgDM/ha to allow establishment. Pasture cuts can be taken to measure this, ask your agronomist or ag retailer. If you want a visual estimate, check out the Feed on Offer Photo Gallery (DPIRD, 2007)

  • Pastures from Space provides estimates of Pasture Growth Rate (PGR) and Feed on Offer (FOO) on a weekly basis across the South West Agricultural region. You can select your farm and compare the growth curve to previous years. (DPIRD)



FEED RATIONS / ALTERNATE FEED SOURCES

  • Alternate energy and protein feed sources for sheep and cattle (DPIRD, 2024) Includes information on toxicity, chemical residue considerations, energy, transitioning feeds, using urea & more.

  • Get feed testing done to better understand the value of a feed source and formulate a ration. Check with your local ag retailer. Sinead O'Gara (StockLink) is another contact who offers ration formulation services. 



SUPPORT

  • DPIRD has set up a 24/7 hotline where you can ask questions about drought support, grants, loans, and be put in touch with staff / researchers who have knowledge on particular agricultural practices. Call 1300 489 832.

  • $5000 hardship grants available via DPIRD. Interest free loans opening soon (primary producers will be able to apply for up to $25,000 per business to cover the costs of stockfeed, water and transportation)

  • Rural West free financial counselling service for regional small business and primary producers - 1800 612 004

  • RUOK? Simple steps to having a conversation with someone you are worried about.



NEED SOMETHING ELSE?

Something you need information on? ASHEEP & BEEF members are welcome to drop us a line to see if we can help. If you are wondering about it, chances are others are too, and we can often share what we find with the group.


Members are also welcome to make use of the ASHEEP & BEEF farmer network. If you are trying something different, want to troubleshoot an issue, or refine a system - then the value of chatting with other farmers in our network is gold. ASHEEP & BEEF often has members touch base with an idea or issue, to be put in touch with other farmers experienced in the topic. We have WhatsApp groups with our committee members, we drop them a note, and before you know it there will be some good suggestions of who to contact throughout the network.









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