Dry Times – Strategies for managing a late break and lambing

  • Australian Government's Future Drought Fund
  • Pilot
  • 1
  • Lismore
  • Current
Livestock Thumbnail 1

Research Question

From consultation with farmers in the Skipton & Lismore region, Souther Farming Systems as the Sout West Node of the Victorian Drought Resilience Adoption & Innovation HUB discovered a need to provide key information and strategies to handle the current dry situation farmers are facing in South West Victoria going into Winter and point of lambing with minimal feed available in paddocks. The event was held on Tuesday 4th June, 2024.   Topics covered:
  • Management strategies from stock containment to point of lambing
  • Supplementation & nutrition during lambing
  • Weaning strategies and the impacts
  • Options for boosting pasture growth and recovery of pastures post rain
  • Grazing crops strategies and considerations
  • Deb Scammell, Talking Livestock - Deb is a consultant based at Seven Hills in mid North South Australia, she has been instrumental in the recent SA Drought, advising and consulting with many producers on stock containment, feeding through lambing and early weaning options.
  • Andrew Speirs, Meridian Agriculture - Andrew specialises in soil and plant nutrition, and their roles in pasture, crop and livestock production. BWBL coordinator based in Casterton region.
  • Simon Falkiner, Falkiner Ag - Simon is a farmer and consultant he specialises in feed gap manipulation, soil health, livestock production & animal reproduction. Based around Winchelsea.
  • Dr Andrew Kennedy, Thrive Agri Services - Andrew's experience ranges across pasture agronomy, animal nutrition, animal genetics, farm management and farm economics. BWBL coordinator for Western Plains & Glenelg, based in Hamilton region.

Research Information & Objectives

Containment & supplementation & lambing - Where are the ewes at? Containment/sacrifice paddocks, How long to keep pregnant ewes in containment and releasing successfully?  Setting up lambing paddocks and feeding over lambing.

Key Messages and Resources:

  • Supply the ewes with what they need consistently, don't let them get hungry!
  • You can successfully lamb and supplementary feed (Not in containment!)
  • Use Containment and Sacrifice paddocks to rest your pastures and let them get away as best as you can.

Deb Scammell, Talking Livestock - Presentation

Methods of feeding in containment video  https://youtu.be/zVhriwemUmY

Setting up ewe containment feeding area - YouTube

Ewe Containment Nutrition - Deb Scammell (youtube.com)

Pasture & Fodder Options - What do we have on hand? Buying feed/Feed Test, Metabolisable Energy - what's required? Acidosis, Pregnancy Toxaemia, When to graze? Pasture tools if moisture is available Gibberellic Acid & Urea, Post Winter Spring feed options.

Key Messages and Resources:

  • Nitrogen is less effective than Gibberellic Acid
  • Established perennial grasses provide the quickest feed
  • Annual anything sown in Winter will be slow (late August at best)
  • Leaf area is vital
  • Know the energy requirements of your stock
  • Test feed stuffs to ensure they meet your animal needs (cheap insurance)
  • Forward planning and measuring will enable you to make a plan to succeed

Andrew Speirs, Meridian Agriculture - Presentation

Grazing Crops - Risks vs Rewards

Key Messages and Resources:

  • The winter feed gap can be filled by grazing established crops, if the key principles are followed
  • Winter cereal can be grazed with out a yield penalty, where canola commonly occurs a yield penalty
  • Management of grazing is critical to successful outcomes and can be short and quick, however if you multiple it over several crop paddocks the grazing days add up.
  • Grazing must occur before Growth Stage 30 and an exclusion cage can provide that indicator.
  • The decision to graze winter crops should take into account soil moisture and likely rainfall to avoid potential grain yield losses.
  • Animal health issues need to be managed as significant losses can occur.

Simon Falkiner, Falkiner Ag - Presentation

Grazing Cropped Land: A summary of the latest information on grazing winter crops from the Grain & Graze Program

Farm Decision Making: The interaction of personality, farm business and risk to make more informed decisions.

Post Lambing to Early Weaning Strategies - Ewe recovery & Early Weaning

Key Messages and Resources:

  • Ewes at peak lactation lose weight as the demand for energy is higher than what they can consume
  • If possible, keep the feed up!
  • Lamb marking is the critical action point to determine weaning time
  • Condition score ewes at lamb marking (See presentation for trigger points)
  • Monitor ewes and lambs for parasite burdens
  • Differentially manage ewes and lambs based on either lambing status (single/twin) or condition score to prioritise feed resources
  • Keep a record of how you went and reflect on what worked well!

Dr Andrew Kennedy, Thrive Agri Services - Presentation

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