Finishing winter strong: tips for maintaining stock into spring
With just over a month until the mornings begin to warm up and hopefully bring a change to the weather, many producers are looking at management options to finish off their winter season.
Frost, dry weather and annual grazing pressure can leave the month of August with a tight feed budget for livestock. While dry stock may be able to hold condition though to a turn in the season, those carrying calves/lambs/kids at this time can fall behind quickly if not managed efficiently.
Depending on your agribusiness, the options for managing stock condition vary. Here we have provided a summary of some common practices for assisting stock maintain weights and growth development leading into the warmer half of the year.
Feed assessment and budget
Assessing feed-on-offer, stock conditions, and demand for nutrition is a great first-step for any livestock business. Stocking rates should be constantly reassessed for suitability, so as dry feed begins to decline, those rates can be adjusted with plans put in place to ensure your paddock and stock are prepared for the forecasted season ahead.
Where to start? Speak to your local Elders livestock production advisor for support to develop a feed budget and management this season.
Removing pressure on breeders, while ensuring young stock are getting a strong start in life, can be one of the best options as winter feed starts to decline.
Timing may depend on the availability of quality feed for weaners, whether in spelled paddocks or in feed provided, however the benefits to breeding stock regaining condition are well researched. By allowing a dam to recover sooner, there is less pressure overall on paddocks, often at a time when feed-on-offer is declining.
Where to start? Read our article discussing the benefits of early weaning, or speak to your local Elders livestock specialist about your management plans this season.
Drying pasture is often coupled with a decline in available nutrients and digestibility. Research has proven that the earlier supplementation can be introduced into those paddocks, before and stock condition starts to decline, the better. Supplementing increases digestibility of pastures while ensuring key nutrients for stock (young and old) are not missed at crucial stages.
Where to start? Speak to your local Elders rural products specialist about pasture assessments and recommendations for your supplement program. Elders offers a range of animal health products including supplements and blocks.
For those considering a more intensive approach to resting paddocks while feeding livestock, confinement feeding may be a viable option. Benefits include greater control over inputs and a reduction in collateral costs like travel between paddocks, although there are disadvantages to take into account before making a plan.
Where to start? Read our recent article on confinement feeding for more information, or speak to your local Elders livestock specialist about infrastructure requirements and stockfeed supply.
While the annual seasonal changes are nothing new, with careful management producers can ensure they are finishing off their winter programs in a stronger position that the year before. From budgeting feed-on-offer to introducing a tailored supplement program, there are many options to suit each situation. As we step into August, a little planning can go a long way to a successful summer ahead.
For all your livestock needs, speak to your local Elders branch and livestock production specialist.