Pasture Quad

Fine tuning feed budgeting

The Glenelg Hopkins Rural Women on Farms groups are keen to learn how to create feed budgets and plans to meet animal production targets.

We are lining up some fabulous farm tours and workshops in May and June to see how producers use feed budgeting to make decisions on stocking rates, paddock selection, mob size and periods of grazing.

As the feed budgets become more tactical, then the estimates of pasture growth rates, intake, and residual left at the end of grazing needs to be more precise.

We will focus on learning these skills and reveal tips and tricks to make sure the budgets are accurate.

While often district average pasture growth rates are used in feed budgets, the average rarely occurs which means our budgets can wrongly inform us.

This issue was highlighted in pasture production modelling for our Future Drought Fund Project on the impacts of climate change on southwest farm profitability.

The variability in monthly pasture growth rates was found to be large, influenced by changing moisture and temperature. However, the variability in winter months was comparatively small and this gives us a good opportunity to create accurate feed budgets.

Knowing how to estimate pasture quantity and quality helps determine livestock intake and is one of the skills needed to develop feed budgets. This information can be conveniently accessed through satellite imagery estimates of “greenness” which have been calibrated to estimate standing dry matter and groundcover. These are available through a subscription to Cibo labs on My Farm Dashboard, with accurate resolutions down to 10m2 or through MyMLA, although this is on a larger resolution of 1 hectare, which will reduce accuracy.

The pasture modelling data will be made available at the end of June and there will be opportunities for members to participate in future feed planning and budgeting workshops using this data.

If you are a Woman on Farm or have a partner that may be interested in our next Women on Farms event on May 25th at Chatsworth House Pastoral learn more here…

By Lisa Miller, Manager Soils, Pasture & Livestock

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