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Beyond the Bale : Dec 06 - Jan 07
Drought advice Free information to help growers deal with drought is available from AWI by visiting the website or via the AWI helpline (1800 070 099). Managing sheep in feedlots, managing stock water and planning for after the drought are just some of the topics covered. Free AWI resources available on the website -- or that can be mailed to woolgrowers -- include: ú Managing Sheep in Droughtlots -- a best-practice guide that highlights the purpose, benefits and experiences of woolgrowers managing sheep in confined areas during drought; ú Stock water -- a Limited Resource -- a fact sheet that helps calculate stock water budgets, especially when droughtlotting sheep; ú Managing Fodder Prices for Droughts -- a guide to strategies that help manage fodder prices and supply risks during droughts; ú Which Sheep do I Keep? -- a guide to help determine whether to sell or supplementary-feed all, some or none of the flock; ú Feeding and Managing Sheep in Dry Times -- this publication, primarily written for WA and SA producers, provides practical guidelines and examples on feeding and managing sheep during dry seasons and drought years. While it focuses on dry times and confinement feeding systems, it also has useful information on getting through the normal summer/autumn feed gap period; ú Planning for Profit -- a practical guide offering a series of step-by-step, cost-effective breeding and pasture- management options for producers to consider post- drought; and ú StockPlan® -- a suite of computer decision-support tools that helps growers explore options during a drought and to make informative and timely decisions before the onset of a full-blown drought. The AWI website also includes a list of drought-related information for woolgrowers from other sources such as the state departments of primary industries. Contact details are provided for the departments in each state, as well as links to sites providing10-day weather forecasts. ú More information: All these drought resources are available free to woolgrowers by calling the AWI helpline on 1800 070 099 or from from the AWI website at www.wool.com.au/drought By Jane Milburn Feeding core breeding stock through droughts is something you just get used to doing because it is part of your life, says Martin Lloyd from 'Lorne' at Blackall in ueensland. Mr Lloyd was born in 1961 and even remembers feeding during the 1966 drought, so is not fazed by the need to gear up to feed when conditions require it. He has been feeding on and off during the past five years, but is relieved not to be feeding at the moment, because the property is understocked and enough rain has fallen to produce feed for the remaining animals. "We are running less stock this year because stocking the country lightly gives it a chance to come back," he says. "We're only running one sheep to four hectares, where normally it would be a sheep to 1.6ha." The Lloyd family has been in the Blackall district since 1916 and has 26,000ha on 'Lorne' and 'Tarvs', which are 90 kilometres apart. They include a mix of Mitchell grass downs and Buffel grass pasture. After improving purebred Merino ewes over many years, Mr Lloyd believes it is viable and worthwhile to feed these ewes through dry periods. "There is no way we would sell off our core breeding ewes because it is too costly to buy back quality stock after rain. What you sell for $30, you'd pay $60 to buy back." He says the feeding costs are defrayed by the ewes continuing to produce a lamb each year on feed (90 per cent lambing rate), although he does not join them until they are two-and-a-half years old and big enough to cope with lambing on feed. "There are some losses from shy feeders when they start on feed, but once they get used to it we don't have many losses." At the start of the drought feeding regime, Mr Lloyd feeds corn at a rate of one tonne per 2000 ewes per day, along with either half a tonne of cottonseed per 2000 ewes or an equivalent amount of barley hay (see below for more details). He wants to feed and retain his core breeders through drought situations and so is prepared to absorb the costs, including the hidden costs of fuel and equipment wear and tear. "I wore out a motorbike doing 10,000km in 10 months, mustering the stock to be fed." Most recently, Martin fed his animals for eight months straight, from July 2005 to February 2006, after only a four- month break before that. He fed mobs of about 600, 900 and 900 in holding paddocks of 162ha each. He fed every day at the same time to keep the animals in a routine, after finding that if he was even half an hour late they would walk away. The feeding routine took two hours. "We are set up to feed with elevated silos that have been in place for 20 years. From these the corn runs out with an auger into a bin on the trailer. The cottonseed is dropped in a heap on the ground from an open bin on the back of the Nissan. We put Phoslick in troughs for the lambing ewes. "We started feeding corn and cottonseed but the sheep weren't doing well enough on that so we changed to barley hay and corn to provide roughage to fill them up. "We put the half-tonne round bales of barley hay on the back of the vehicle, unravel it and drop it on top of the corn. It is a two-person job: one to drive and one to feed." 'Lorne' has had rain, so the feeding routine is over for now. The investment has paid off with the ewes set to lamb shortly. "The law of averages says that it has to rain eventually, so how many years you feed is only dependent on how deep your pockets are." Mr Lloyd's story was featured in the first Drought Survival Stories e-book, a 'Leading Sheep' central- west regional committee project that aims to record what producers have learned from their approach to drought, feeds and feeding methods and other challenges. Leading Sheep is an AWI project, in partnership with the ueensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries and supported by AgForce, which targets the adoption of new technologies and practices to increase the productivity and profitability of the ueensland industry. The second Drought Survival Stories e-book will be launched soon. ú More information: Jenny Keough, Leading Sheep central-west regional coordinator, 07 4657 5983, email@example.com, www.leadingsheep.com.au Breeders the focus for drought feeding The cost of feeding core breeding ewes is worth it to retain quality stock, says one grower with a long experience of dry conditions 4CLIMATE BEYOND THE BALE Martin Lloyd feeding sheep at Blackall. 'Lorne' has had rain, so the feeding routine is over for now.The investment has paid off with the ewes set to lamb shortly. "The law of averages says that it has to rain eventually, so how many years you feed is only dependent on how deep your pockets are."
Feb 07 - Mar 07