Managing livestock in dry times

Low rainfall across much of the Hunter over the last twelve months means that many producers are facing a lack of suitable feed coming into Summer across parts of the Hunter region. The Hunter Local Land Services team is offering advice to primary producers that, with pasture availability and quality, a decision must be made to sell, agist or feed livestock. Under current livestock market conditions and with high feed and freight costs it is critical that stock owners make their decisions early to ensure the best possible outcome for their livestock and farm business.

Brett Littler, Livestock Officer with Hunter Local Land Services said, “With the season having gone the way it has and the uncertainty of current weather conditions it is time to consider whether you are value adding to your livestock by hand feeding or whether you need to take advantage of your livestock’s condition and destock to some degree.

“It may be more efficient to your operation in both costs and labour to reduce numbers, even in the current market than to feed all of them for an extended period as it doesn’t take long for costs to escalate when feeding livestock, especially when demand is high and supply low.

High prices of grains, limited availability of many feedstuffs and high freight costs for hay means feeding of livestock requires continual budgeting and re-evaluation as the season progresses. It is also vital to set critical dates to assess your situation, build in flexibility and be prepared that the decisions made now may not suit the conditions in a month's time.

Brett continued, “Sending cattle away to agistment is another option, however freight costs and the travel, time and labour for inspection need to be taken into consideration. If cattle are to be transported to sale or agistment, they must be suitable for transport and ‘fit to load.’

“The most important part about making all these decisions, is to ensure they are made in a timely manner BEFORE livestock have lost too much weight and are unsuitable for sale or transport.”

Every operation is unique, with different drivers, financial reserves, motivations and pressures impacting options, decisions and outcomes. There is no “one size fits all” approach for managing a herd or flock through challenging seasonal conditions.

Hunter Local Land Services has an experienced team who can assist with feed, sell or agist decisions, and can provide advice to livestock producers on feed, transport and animal health. Contact your LLS office to be put in touch with one of our team 1300 795 299.

There are a large number of resources to help in managing livestock on our website.

Related news

Related information