Dry prompts supply question

Tight supplies prompt questions

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BENEFITS: Carefully managing cattle through drought will put a grazier in the best possible financial position for when the season breaks.

BENEFITS: Carefully managing cattle through drought will put a grazier in the best possible financial position for when the season breaks.

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WITH the current drought conditions being experienced, producers begin asking themselves some questions. These might include: Beef producers know it is import...

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WITH the current drought conditions being experienced, producers begin asking themselves some questions.

These might include: 

  • Have I made the correct decisions? 
  • Am I looking after my livestock and land the best I can? 
  • Did I sell or move livestock from the drought affected property so we come out the other side in good condition?

Beef producers know it is important to look after their livestock as they provide the future income but the land also needs to be carefully considered. 

Overgrazing risk

Overgrazing paddocks means the pasture is slow to respond after rainfall or it can even be killed off forever. 

Cattle will normally overgraze the softer sweet grass first and then start on the tougher more indigestible grasses and shrub secondly.  

This process normally naturally selects and kills off the overgrazed more profitable softer grasses. 

By the numbers

IT is important to identify the available feed in the paddock and run stock numbers to match the available feed so it doesn’t damage the pasture base.

Normally producers have a full range of feed stock like hay, grain, molasses and cotton seed available to purchase to help supplement the cattle diet and get them through the drought. 

However this year with the drought affecting the whole east coast, agistment has been impossible to find and it has stretched feedstock available to the point to where extra feed cannot be purchased.

Like graziers, most feed companies and lick manufacturers have been just as frustrated at not being able to purchase enough supplies to keep up with their customers’ demands. 

“I’m not sure how we fix the running out of commodities in future droughts,” Ultralix managing director, Brad Monk, said.

“Currently lick manufactures purchase commodity supplies and ingredients months before the seasons start in around April, May each year and while it is an educated guess it is a little gamble. 

“Most years we can purchase extra supplies as the season goes on if needed but when the whole east coast of Australia is trying to purchase all these supplies we all run out quickly.”

Problem solving

THE solution could be about focus. 

“How do we fix the problem?” Mr Monk said.  

“It doesn’t warrant the lick company to purchase enough supply in case it is a drought year as the finance to carry unused ingredients would send them broke and I don’t believe it is fair to expect them to either. 

“The question comes back to the grazier: What are you doing yourself to reduce your exposure to drought? 

“Can you cut a paddock of hay in the good years and store it?  Even bury it in the ground so you preserve the quality like we do with silage. 

“Do you contract supply with your lick company or guarantee to purchase a set amount so the lick company can supply your required feed needed?

“Do you purchase extra feed stock and store them for the next big dry spell?”

Supplier support

THESE are all questions graziers should be considering and discussing with the people they purchase supplies from, according to Mr Monk.

“If you don’t, we know a cow in poor condition will not cycle and without your cows having a calf each year what will your income be next year?” he said.   

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