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Feed Management

B+LNZ launch three new feed resources

Regional pasture modelling is indicating that many farmers are going into winter with pasture covers well below target for this time of year. Even with perfect conditions, autumn pasture growth will be insufficient to fill this deficit. Farmers are being urged to put feed plans together now and B+LNZ has launched three new feed planning resources to help farmers do this.
Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Feed planning support service

The agricultural sector’s recently launched feed budgeting and advisory service is proving to be a life-line for farmers struggling with climatic-induced feed shortages and COVID-19 related restrictions.

One couple, who were pro-active in using the service when it first became available, say they were given some very valuable advice and a feed budget they could work with.

“It was very valuable, we had many sleepless nights before talking to Mark (Mark Harris from B+LNZ) and Bob (AgFirst farm consultant Bob Thomson). We were just getting bogged down.”

The couple found themselves in what they describe as the perfect storm. Experienced farmers, they bought their undeveloped hill country sheep, beef and deer farm in the South Island one year ago and walked straight into a drought.

While they knew the first couple of years were going to be tough while they invested in capital fertiliser and a fencing and development programme, they had not bargained on the combination of drought and an inability to shift stock.

They had bought some supplementary feed but it was not enough to meet the demands of the extra mouths they unexpectedly found themselves carrying and the cartage costs of shifting supplementary feed out of other parts of the country was prohibitive.

They knew that some outside help would be valuable, but the budget wouldn’t stretch to a farm consultant, so they grabbed the opportunity to use the free feed budgeting and advisory service when it became available.

“There is always someone who has dealt with worse situations who can share their experiences.”

They urge other farmers dealing with stretched feed resources to use the service.

“It’s okay to put your hand up and benefit from some fresh thinking”.

“We really encourage people to use the B+LNZ feed service and get advice because someone else might think of something you haven’t thought of, no matter how experienced you are.”

How to use the feed planning support service?

The Ministry for Primary Industries together with Beef + Lamb New Zealand, DairyNZ, AgFirst and Federated Farmers launched the free remote feed planning support service to farmers last month and so far, 26 sheep and beef farmers have made use of the initiative. The service offers feed budgeting and professional farm systems advice.

In the first instance, farmers will get a free assessment of their feed planning needs by their relevant industry or levy organisation, from there they can access an advisor who can discuss management options and avenues for practical support.

For farmers who require more in-depth support, they will be referred to a farm systems consultant, but there will be cost to this service.

B+LNZ Extension Manager Mark Harris says all the farmers that have gone through process so far have appreciated that there is help available in what is a very tough season.

“I really encourage farmers to pick up the phone and make use of the service before winter progresses.

“Being proactive at this stage will ensure farmers can get through winter and protect the performance of their capital breeding stock going into spring.”

To access this service there are two toll-free numbers:

  1. Dry stock sector- Beef + Lamb: 0800BEEFLAMB (0800 233 352)
  2. Dairy sector-DairyNZ  0800 4 DairyNZ (0800 4 3247969)

This service will be available until 30 June 2020 at which time farmer need will be revised.   

Farmer Case Studies on feed planning

Commissioned by B+LNZ, Farm consultancy firm AgFirst has compiled farmer case studies to allow other farmers to see how drought management tools and management plans have been successfully applied in drought-stricken regions of the country.

B+LNZ’s General Manager North Island Matt Ward says RMPP research showed that farmers learn best from other farmers and these case studies highlight management strategies that farmers could adapt and apply to their particular situation.

They include a farm overview, options analysis, gross margin comparisons a detailed breakdown of the decision-making process, practical considerations and next steps.

Matt says the level of detail included in these case studies allows farmers to see the whole decision -making process and cost analysis as well as the practical implications of the management changes.

The first of these case studies outlines the drought management and recovery strategies adopted by Dargaville farmer James Parsons. These included the purchase of supplementary feed such PKE and maize grain, off-farm grazing, early processing of bulls and nitrogen applications.

Matt says the other case studies profile drought management strategies adopted by farmers in Canterbury and Hawke's Bay.

Download case studies 

  1. B+LNZ Drought Management Regional Case Study  Dargaville, Northland (PDF, 367KB)
  2. NEW: B+LNZ Regional Case Study  Southland (PDF, 1MB)
  3. NEW: Hawke's Bay Feed Management AgFirst Case Study (PDF, 9MB)
  4. NEW: Future Farm Feed Management Case Study (PDF, 486KB)

Supplementary Feed Table

Farmers in many regions are considering a range of supplementary feed options this year and B+LNZ commissioned feed tables will help them make informed decisions about the best feed for their budget and stock requirements.

Put together by BakerAg, the feed table provides drymatter (DM) and energy (MJME) content of a wide range of supplementary feeds as well as a breakdown of costs per kilogram of DM and MJME.

B+LNZ Extension Manager Mark Harris says the table includes a number of less commonly used feeds such as tapioca, canola meal, corn gluten meal, broll and vegetables.

He says the costs provided were the costs of the feed on 20 April, so while these may vary, these will at least give farmers an indication of the relative value of different feeds.

All of the costs are exclusive of freight and while energy (MJME) is a critical value, other nutritional factors should be taken into account when farmers are looking at purchasing non-traditional supplementary feeds.     

The supplementary feed table can be found at https://beeflambnz.com/knowledge-hub/PDF/supplementary-feed-guide

A range of other B+LNZ feed management resources can be found here: https://beeflambnz.com/news-views/covid-19-feed-management-check-list-farmers