Dry weather makes autumn feed budget critical

As ewe mating gets underway, farmers need to be thinking about how they are going to provide high quality feed for those ewes at lambing.
Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Farm systems scientist Tom Fraser says dry conditions around many parts of the country make putting together an autumn feed budget even more critical to ensure multiple-bearing ewes have high-quality feed from two to three weeks before lambing.

“That needs to be a real priority.”

Tom says farmers need to plan ahead, as while there is plenty of poorer quality feed around, it is the high-quality feed that will determine the performance of next year’s lamb crop.

“You need to set-up the farm for next spring by doing a feed budget and doing it now.”

He says many parts of the country are experiencing a green drought and even if it does rain, it is too late to get significant pasture growth out of any moisture.

To try and conserve feed now, farmers could consider holding back high Body Condition Score ewes onto maintenance feed or use ram harnesses to identify mated ewes and put them back onto maintenance pasture.

Tom says it shouldn’t be too difficult to maintain ewes as winter feed crops are not looking too bad and most farmers have plenty of supplement on-hand.

“There is plenty of maintenance feed around, it’s just the high-quality feed that could be a problem in spring.”

He says it is too late to plant annual ryegrass green-feed crops and while feed cereal green-feed crops could be an option, they still need moisture to get established and grow.

“Really farmers have to deal with the feed resources they have on-hand and do a budget to ensure the farm is set-up to try and maximise production next spring.”

To help with your feed budget, B+LNZ is running FeedSmart workhops in Canterbury and Nelson in April (see B+LNZ Events Calendar) and these workshops are available to all levy payers on request. Talk to your local Extension Manager.

Find out more

For more information about feed management go to: https://beeflambnz.com/search?term=Feed+quality