PLANNING well ahead of joining pays off in time and money, and producers are being urged to plan a fodder budget which looks at the nutritional requirements of their stock, putting a dollar value on each ewe.
The focus should be keeping ewes in good condition throughout summer, according SheepSMART Solutions consultant Megan Rogers, based at Forbes.
“It costs a lot more to bring them back into condition if you let them slip over summer, so it’s good to start feeding earlier with a small amount of feed,” Mrs Rogers said.
“A dry ewe at 65kg, to keep in condition score 3, needs 10 megajoules of energy per day, but it takes 20MJ to get them from condition score 2 to 3.”
It’s also important to understand the quality of feed, particularly stubble remaining from winter crops, as nutritional value varies depending on the level of grain still available to stock.
”Some of the drought or frost affected crops might be the best paddocks this year, but our expectations of what stubble is going to do isn't realistic sometimes,” Mrs Rogers said.
“Once they've hoovered up the grain off the ground and any leaf, there’s not much substance there.
“A paddock that's gone through to harvest is not going to be overly nutritious and provide prolonged feed.
“You can tell when stock have eaten all the grain if you pita a bale of good quality hay in the paddock and they start poking over to that.”
Ram preparation, including going through the four Ts – teeth, testes, toes and tossle – should begin two to three months prior to joining, not the day before the rams are put out with the ewes, Mrs Rogers said.
“Rams need two to three months worth of wool to help them cope in the heat, not too much wool for weight, and should be in condition score 3.5.
“Feeding lupins can assist, but the other thing for people feeding breeding ewes and joining over warmer months is making sure they’ll cope with any supplementary feeding. Don't put rams out with the ewes and feed barley if you haven't been feeding the rams barley as well prior to joining because they'll be unwell and become infertile.”