News & Advice

Summer is coming

Sep 5, 2018 | Dry stock

A predicted moderate El Nino summer weather pattern could mean unpredictable weather this summer so preparation will be key.

There are four stages of preparation for, and reaction to, an adverse event such as a drought – reduction, readiness, response, and recovery.

Reduction is about analysis of long term risks, taking steps to eliminate them if practical, and if not to attempt to reduce their impact. In the case of drought, all farms are different but attempting to reduce its impact involves having supplementary feed available, ensuring paddocks have adequate water, and having appropriate stock numbers and therefore stocking rate. Provision of access to shade for stock during the day is also important in a drought.

Having stock that can stay, or be sold as store (depending on the weather) is a helpful plan. Early weaning of lambs, creep grazing (lambs can pass through gates that ewes can’t to have access to more feed, so they can be sold quicker), use of a crop (eg chicory or turnips), feed budgeting and prioritising stock can help in preparing the farm for a drought.

Readiness is about having a plan, and set cut off dates, feed levels and body condition scores that trigger action (e.g if it hasn’t rained by a certain date the ewes will be early-weaned). This helps manage feed resources and protect the performance of capital stock. Early decision making is critical in situations where climate and grass growth rates are uncertain.

Response is during the event. Having plans in place so that you can ensure there is feed, water and shade for all stock will help you through.

Recovery is the time directly after the event and is for both short and long term effects. During this time you can assess pasture and stock condition and start to prepare for next season. Setting up breeding animals on a rising plane of nutrition after the drought reduces the effect of periods of marginal feeding on reproduction for the next season.

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