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Friday, November 15, 2013

Drought Feeding and Management Field Day

We attended this field day put on by the Dungog Gresford Hoof and Hook Group.

A very interesting and enlightening day and well organised with some of the states most knowledgeable presenters and cattle producers.

The areas that were covered included:

Pastures, pasture management and feed value and options and hands on examination of pastures.

Different feed options in drought conditions. There were examples of all the feed types on display with the costs per unit and more importantly per mega joule. This was a real eye opener.

Open air and conference room discussions covered animal metabolism, nutrition and feeding methods. Especially important was the need to be aware of the effect of sudden feed type changes.

Animals in differing condition were examined in the cattle yards and strategies going forward covered in detail.

Setting and adhering to goals going into dry conditions and in dry conditions and not pinning hopes on weather reports. Set a date for a particular action and stick to it be it purchasing feed, early weaning or disposal.

Monitoring animal condition and decision points. A thorough look into judging an animals condition.

Animal welfare and the responsibilities of owners was emphasised repeatedly. Not taking good care of your stock is no longer an option.

Such a lot of information to digest and so complex. It isn't possible to summarise in a single blog.

Anyone running cattle really should get involved in a seminar of this nature. The just "feed out more hay" solution really doesn't stand as the only or best solution. There are so many other options, strategies and issues to consider.

Here is a pertinent formula. 30 mm of rain will in effect be 25 as 5 mm is lost to evaporation. With good grass cover on good land you can expect 30-35KG of dry matter per hectare. That is 750-875 KG. Each lactating cow will need 12KG per day. So how many cows can you feed for one day or how many days can you feed one cow.

BUT if the pasture is eaten down or the country not improved expect 5-10 KG dry matter per mm i.e. 105-250 KG dry matter per hectare.

Jean and I both took notes separately and then compared them to  ensure some accuracy. There are some useful bits of information which will appear over the next few days in the blog.

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