Here are six principles you may find useful. For more details, see the B+LNZ Extreme Dry Management Toolkit.
1. It is usually more economic to sell stock than buy feed.
2. Don’t feed any animals that will not be in productive condition next spring (i.e. 35-40 kg ewes are better sold).
3. It is more important to maximise income after the drought, than minimise costs during the drought. In simple terms, losing weight on ewes and cows now by under-feeding will cost far more in lost production next season.
4. It is vital to do some scenario analyses – consider the big “What ifs”. (“What if it doesn’t rain until 25 April?”). Solutions need to be identified for these and implemented when necessary.
5. Use destocking as an opportunity to consider future stocking and structural options (e.g. reducing cow numbers, increasing deer, switching sheep breeds).
6. Monitor the condition of your stock and pastures regularly. In particular, you must know bodyweight and body condition of stock. Usually, we over-estimate stock weights, if we don’t measure.