Managing livestock in dry times

Low rainfall across much of the North Coast over Autumn and Winter means that many producers are facing a lack of suitable feed coming into Spring. North Coast Local Land Services District Veterinarians are offering advice to primary producers that, with declining pasture levels and quality, a decision must be made to sell, agist or feed cattle. The combination of lower cattle prices, high feed and fuel costs on the back of several challenging seasons means it is critical for stock owners to make decisions in a timely manner.

Jocelyn Todd, North Coast Local Land Services District Veterinarian, said, “Selling all or some cattle might be the most financially sensible decision at this time, even if that is at a loss.

“In most operations, it is more efficient in both costs and labour to sell animals, even if that is at a loss, than to feed them for an extended period.”

High prices of grains, limited availability of many feedstuffs and high freight costs for hay means feeding of cattle is extremely expensive and needs to be carefully budgeted for. It is also vital to consider an exit strategy and decision points for feeding programs if the budget is exhausted and there still has not been a break in season.

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.’

Jocelyn continued, “The most important part about making all these decisions, is to ensure they are made in a timely manner BEFORE cattle 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 through challenging seasonal conditions.

North Coast 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.

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