Feed management strategies assist in challenging conditions

Challenging seasonal conditions for sheep producers in Northern New South Wales has meant best practice management techniques are under the microscope, with Sheep Solutions consultant Geoff Duddy saying producers may look to wean lambs earlier in an attempt to reduce stocking rates and reduce feed requirements.

“There’s also options like creep feeding, which a lot of people don’t use,” Geoff said.

“Creep feeding is basically setting aside areas that lambs can access without the ewes.”

Geoff will discuss timely topics including feed budgeting, best practice sheep health, the use of fodder and dual-purpose crops, confinement feeding and creep feeding in Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) and Australian Wool Innovation’s (AWI) ‘It’s ewe time!’ forums, to be held in in Dubbo, Walgett and Dirranbandi, QLD, on August 14-16 2018.

Geoff said an example of creep feeding was using a gateway into a cereal crop. Using star droppers, spaced at 25 centimetres apart, with a 20cm gap at the bottom for lamb access, would bar ewes from entering and provide valuable extra feed for lambs.

“You put the posts up across a gateway so lambs can access a cereal or brassica crop – something that’s not quite ready for the whole mob – to provide them with additional feed,” Geoff said.

“Alternatively, a producer can panel or fence off an area where they can put the better quality, more expensive feed for lambs to access. It takes a bit of pressure off the ewe as well.”

Along with feeding and health practices, Geoff said genetics would have a big role to play in getting mobs through tough periods.

He said selecting sires with Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs) of above average growth, fat and eye muscle would assist in developing resilience and lifetime productivity in a flock.

“Each of those ASBVs may help with reproduction or fertility in the daughters, but for lamb survival growth rates are very important – so you select sires that are higher performing on growth rate,” Geoff said.

At the Northern NSW It’s Ewe Time forums, Geoff will also discuss key results from trial work conducted at a Merino stud near Goondiwindi, QLD, which showed a 20 per cent difference in lamb survival rates based on a sire’s genetic merit in fat and eye muscle.

Other speakers at the Northern NSW It’s Ewe Time forums include Matt Playford, Dawbuts; Simon Vogt, Rural Directions; Ben Swain, BCS Agribusiness; Hamish Dickson, AgriPartner Consulting and Mark Gardner, Vanguard Business Services.

It’s Ewe Time! Event Organiser Anne Collins urged producers and industry to register now for the forums – so they didn’t miss out!

“We have a great line-up of speakers at all of the events, who will deliver a wide range of relevant and timely information that producers will be able to implement on-farm,” she said.

“The forums aim to help producers achieve productivity increases through carcase values, reproduction rates and reducing the cost of production.

“Each of the forums will deliver the latest research and information outcomes to ensure producers leave with confidence and the knowledge on how to best manage their flocks.”

Northern NSW It’s Ewe Time forums include:

  • Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, NSW: Tuesday 14 August 2018
  • Walgett District Sporting Club, Walgett, NSW: Wednesday 15 August 2018
  • The Old Moey Motel, Dirranbandi, QLD: Thursday 16 August 2018

Source: MLA

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