South East Local Land Services has received an increase in drought-related inquiries 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,” South East LLS district veterinarian Helen Schaefer said.
“We don’t want to see any livestock lose condition to the point where their welfare is compromised. We are calling on farmers to be making decisions now. ‘Wait and see’ is no longer a viable option.”
She has prepared some advice for livestock owners.
- Feed enough of the right feed;
- Early lactating animals require significantly more feed than dry animals. They cannot 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 and affordability of feed and if you can physically manage it; and
- Do not give hungry stock free access to grain or pellets. Introduce pellets or grain gradually.
Ms Schaefer said to give farmers an idea of how much is enough, below is a “very rough” guideline of how many kilos/head/day stock require using the example of a mix of 80 per cent DDG pellets and 20 per cent hay:
- Cows, lactating (500kg): 8kg (DDG) + 2kg (hay);
- Young cattle (250kg): 3kg + .5kg, or 5kg hay;
- Adult dry cattle (450kg): 4kg + 1kg, or 7kg hay;
- Ewes and lambs: 1.2kg + .3kg;
- 25kg weaner lambs: .50kg + .10kg, or 1kg hay; and
- Dry ewes/wethers: .50kg + .05kg, or 1kg hay.
- Stock in good condition are continuing to get good prices;
- Start with selling “passengers” in a breeding enterprise, then the older breeders; or
- 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.
- Consider early weaning of calves (eg >100kg) and lambs (>10kg);
- Consider stock water availability; or
- You must make a decision that suits you and your situation. What is right for your neighbour may not be right for you.
For more info consult a private nutritionist, contact LLS or visit www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/climate-and-emergencies/droughthub.
LLS will hold drought info sessions in Cobargo and Bega in September. More details to come.