Decisions, right and wrong, help long view

Long-term plans and animal welfare in a time of drought

Long-term plans and animal welfare in a time of drought

John Meban

A long-term plan is usually formulated after experiencing an adverse event while things are clear in your mind and anticipating it will re-occur in the future. It should be in place now before the current event is experienced.

A long-term plan involves analysing what you did right and what you did wrong during the last event, particularly around decision-making. Some decisions will have been right and some will have been wrong. The more decisions you make built around facts (actual measurements such as stock body condition scores, pasture quantities, water availability) the more right decisions you are likely to make.

Stocking policies

Long-term decisions involve setting flexible stocking policies suited to your location. One of the key things is to get down to your winter stocking numbers as early as possible in summer dry areas. This may mean selling store lambs by developing a long-term relationship with a lamb finisher.

Also, you need easy-to-sell sacrifice classes of animals built into your system to reduce feed demand quickly without taking too much of a financial hit. That is a balance of breeding and trading stock.

Another measure is to include some summer cropping, where possible, with dry tolerant crops such as lucerne. We have all seen the way Doug Avery has turned his farm around. Some properties may even have areas where irrigation could be investigated and numbers crunched.

Building strategic resilience into agribusiness

Long-term strategic decisions need to be made to build resilience into agribusinesses. We are told adverse events are going to be more common and more severe so should be planned for. Monitoring for early warning signs such as soil moisture deficit, rainfall and wind run will help in making early decisions and those that follow, all helping to minimise the financial, physical and psychological impact.

Post-drought is also time to think about planting shelter trees for shade. Willows and poplars can provide both shade and forage. Plan to make hay, haylage or even silage for stockpiling when prices are right. Get all the infrastructure in place. Clean the dams, build more dams.

Think about water reticulation, is it a goer? What has this got to do with animal health? It’s all about feeding, feeding, feeding.

Animal welfare

When it comes to animal welfare in drought situations; as managers of animals farmers are required to meet the needs of their animals in both good and bad times.

The clear majority of people have the animals’ welfare in mind at all times as healthy animals are productive animals. In times of drought it can be challenging to provide all the needs of animals’ short term, and early sell down is often the most profitable way forward before animals lose too much condition.

Maintenance feed, adequate quality water and shade are important for an animal’s welfare and are a no-brainer. Enough said. Adequate planning and building resilience into your farm will go a long way to meet your animal welfare obligations.

Team up with others

Keep an eye out for some that may be behind the eight ball and get in behind them. You are not on your own out there. Build a team of trusted advisers around you, stick together with neighbours, share experiences, decisions and plans.

Do not hesitate to seek an outside and impartial opinion, or more than one. Let’s hope more rain comes soon.

A long-term plan is usually formulated after experiencing an adverse event while things are clear in your mind and anticipating it will re-occur in the future. It should be in place now before the current event is experienced.

A long-term plan involves analysing what you did right and what you did wrong during the last event, particularly around decision-making. Some decisions will have been right and some will have been wrong. The more decisions you make built around facts (actual measurements such as stock body condition scores, pasture quantities, water availability) the more right decisions you are likely to make.

Stocking policies

Long-term decisions involve setting flexible stocking policies suited to your location. One of the key things is to get down to your winter stocking numbers as early as possible in summer dry areas. This may mean selling store lambs by developing a long-term relationship with a lamb finisher.

Also, you need easy-to-sell sacrifice classes of animals built into your system to reduce feed demand quickly without taking too much of a financial hit. That is a balance of breeding and trading stock.

Another measure is to include some summer cropping, where possible, with dry tolerant crops such as lucerne. We have all seen the way Doug Avery has turned his farm around. Some properties may even have areas where irrigation could be investigated and numbers crunched.

Building strategic resilience into agribusiness

Long-term strategic decisions need to be made to build resilience into agribusinesses. We are told adverse events are going to be more common and more severe so should be planned for. Monitoring for early warning signs such as soil moisture deficit, rainfall and wind run will help in making early decisions and those that follow, all helping to minimise the financial, physical and psychological impact.

Post-drought is also time to think about planting shelter trees for shade. Willows and poplars can provide both shade and forage. Plan to make hay, haylage or even silage for stockpiling when prices are right. Get all the infrastructure in place. Clean the dams, build more dams.

Think about water reticulation, is it a goer? What has this got to do with animal health? It’s all about feeding, feeding, feeding.

Animal welfare

When it comes to animal welfare in drought situations; as managers of animals farmers are required to meet the needs of their animals in both good and bad times.

The clear majority of people have the animals’ welfare in mind at all times as healthy animals are productive animals. In times of drought it can be challenging to provide all the needs of animals’ short term, and early sell down is often the most profitable way forward before animals lose too much condition.

Maintenance feed, adequate quality water and shade are important for an animal’s welfare and are a no-brainer. Enough said. Adequate planning and building resilience into your farm will go a long way to meet your animal welfare obligations.

Team up with others

Keep an eye out for some that may be behind the eight ball and get in behind them. You are not on your own out there. Build a team of trusted advisers around you, stick together with neighbours, share experiences, decisions and plans.

Do not hesitate to seek an outside and impartial opinion, or more than one. Let’s hope more rain comes soon.

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