The amazingly dry season in the south of New South Wales continues.
Many cattle have been fed for several months now, and farmers are getting a bit sick of it.
Tomorrow is ANZAC Day. This is the time when local producers look to an Autumn break being imminent. The odds are that rain will come soon.
However times are changing and autumn breaks may be occurring later than previously. Modelling suggests that winters are becoming more mild, so when it does rain, pasture growth should benefit from this.
Driving around the district, many cattle are living on supplementary feed alone. Many paddocks have reached a minimum dry matter mass, and these have been locked up from cattle to preserve the pasture plant base.
Some cattle are looking a bit poorly. Either these animals are not getting enough feed, or the feed is of lower quality than needed.
Advisers work on a required amount of energy needed by animals according to their stage of production. Lactating cattle need more than pregnant dry ones, which need more than non-pregnant dry ones.
Cattle of higher growth rates need more than lower growth rates.
The energy level in the feed is used to work out how much of that feed is needed. The more digestible and energy in the feed, the less amount will be needed.
Hay and silage are some more popular feeds in this district. As producers put this out every second day, they are still doing their sums on how much they will need for the winter.
It’s a bit of a balancing act, and feed budgets are essential.
When the rain finally comes, the agronomists will run the risk of getting abused by suggesting to farmers that feeding should continue for a bit longer so paddocks can get away.
It’s pretty sensible advise, but hard to stomach for some who have been feeding since mid summer.
The rain will come soon, and the smell of it on the dry and dusty ground will bring a smile to all of us.