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ARTICLES >> Livestock Articles

Producers find out what's on the menu for their livestock

Posted by Bestprac on Apr 29 2014

Agrihort Communications
Knowing the quality and quantity of feed in your paddocks and how to ensure stock get the most out of it was the focus of Bestprac’s recent Queensland sheep producers’ information day.

The ‘What’s on the menu for your livestock’ forum was hosted by QLD’s Leading Sheep program at Longreach in early April. This event gave producers the opportunity to hear from speakers in regards to feed and also participate in two-way discussions about how to practically manage feed in paddocks.

Participants at Longreach forumA number of keynote speakers addressed the main topics of:

  • grazing pressure and how to use it to influence pasture performance,
  • how to manage pasture quality,
  • managing what is grazing your pastures when it is not necessarily livestock.

Technical knowledge was provided by speakers including Jenny Milson from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Neale Finch and Sally Egan from Department of Environment, Heritage and Protection, and Désirée Jackson from Désirée Jackson Livestock Management. These key speakers joined together with leading local producers (Cam Lindsay, ‘Yuruga’, Longreach; John Hardie, ‘Verastan’, Muttaburra; and Steve Hawe, ‘Spring Plains’, Longreach) who discussed the practical applications of each topic. 

The forum gave producers first-hand information about management of pasture, along with research information about how to get maximum returns from pasture in paddocks. It also included strategies on how feed budgeting can be used in stocking rate management decisions, how taking timely stock faecal samples for Near Infrared Reflectance Spectroscopy (NIRS) sampling can give accurate information about the quality of the diet the livestock were eating, and how resting paddocks at specific times can influencepasture  health and quality.

Simple management options were discussed.  These included ensuring there is a minimum amount of residual pasture left in paddocks at the end of the dry season to ensure good plant recovery and response after rainfall events.

Similarly, resting paddocks during and the wet season was a key tool in ensuring pasture recovery and health.

Management decisions surrounding stocking rates can influence pasture quality and quantity in paddocks and are assisted by feed quality testing at critical times.  These decisions can be reviewed as the season progresses.

Suggested times to conduct NIRS testing are:

  • During the wet season – to determine the potential of the country.
  • End of the growing season when feed goes to seed and begins to dry off – to determine when a dry lick is likely to be required.
  • A couple of tests 4-6 weeks apart once protein becomes deficient and energy is declining– to look at nutrition trends (is it slipping quickly, holding steady or increasing?) This is useful for making management decisions such as timing of weaning and when to begin an energy supplementation program
  • Prior to the last month of pregnancy of pregnant ewes when nutritional requirements begin to increase significantly to ensure nutrients requirements are met to prevent preg tox and to determine what type of supplements wet ewes will requireAt least one month prior to lambing – particularly important for Autumn/Spring lambing to know if ewes need supplements or not when diet quality is usually at its lowest

Bestprac and Leading Sheep QLD are both Australian Wool Innovation Networks for wool producers. Visit the websites www.bestprac.info and www.leadingsheep.com.au to find out more including upcoming opportunities for producers and the many valuable resources that are available.

Last changed: Apr 30 2014

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