Managing feed in extremely dry conditions

Each year, farmers are faced with dry conditions


Below are some management strategies farmers can implement to get through winter and protect next season’s lamb and calf crop.

Beef and Lamb New Zealand’s feed planning service is still up and running and will help farmers put together a feed budget and consolidate their thinking around feed and stock management. Farmers facing feed deficits are encouraged to make use of this service.

Practical tips for managing your feed when farming under drought conditions

When pasture covers are low then pasture-growth rates are also low and so it’s worth remembering the old adage that ‘grass grows grass’.

B+LNZ says farmers should consider what rotation length is required to build pasture covers. “In practice, it can be tough on livestock in the short-term, so you need to keep the long-term goal in mind i.e. creating feed for lambing and calving when ewes and cows will recover quickly and productively.

“Rotational grazing allows you to ration your feed far more effectively than set stocking.

Temporary fencing is a cost effective, practical method of controlling pasture intake for cattle.”

Nitrogen boosted pasture is the most cost-effective supplementary feed but obviously requires moisture to activate, says B+LNZ.

“Theoretically, there should be plenty of nitrogen stored in the soil following drought conditions, but practical farmer experience has shown nitrogen application is a valuable way of getting pasture covers back sooner.

“The only way for nitrogen to work is when it’s on the ground and not in the fertiliser bin. If you need nitrogen book it in and get it on ASAP.

“Breeding stock are very sensitive to underfeeding in early lactation, so it is important to plan early. When feed is short, it is better to ration feed before lactation than during lactation.”

Post-calving feeding is much more important than pre-calving feeding, says B+LNZ.

“Once calved or lambed, breeding stock need to be fully fed and will recover quickly and productively.

“Finishing and trading stock are a flexible stock classes and can take some short-term reduction in feeding or alternatively could be sold store.”

Visit the B+LNZ website for more information.



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