Planning key to drier times

Sometimes you get lucky, but a plan helps


On Farm
A paddock is sown on Friday at Spring Terrace. KLR Marketing's Grahame Rees reckons drier times can be used to advantage, picking over a herd or flock to refine genetics and maybe offloading some animals earlier than usual.

A paddock is sown on Friday at Spring Terrace. KLR Marketing's Grahame Rees reckons drier times can be used to advantage, picking over a herd or flock to refine genetics and maybe offloading some animals earlier than usual.

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Dry and drier summers are testing the management skills of all.

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IT WAS Thursday afternoon and it was the contractor’s call.

Cameron Oborn of Forest Reefs called it well, he’d kept his eye on the forecast and reckoned if there was anything to the predictions of weekend rain Spring Terrace, at about 1000 metres, would snag it. It didn’t take long to sow the eight-hectare paddock with 100 kilograms of oats to the hectare complemented by 100kg/ha of DAP at “Sunnyside” on Friday afternoon.

By Sunday morning the rain had started and by Monday afternoon about 38 millimetres had fallen.

“It’s nice when sometimes it goes your way,” said Adam Crouch, who with wife Giselle owns the 16ha “Sunnyside”. He’s hoping the oats will feed about 80 to 100 first-cross lambs a year and the family’s horses.

Mr Oborn said he was pretty busy at the moment, he works ground up and sprays, sows and makes hay.

“Most of the older cockies are looking to get their early oats in from mid-February for winter grazing,” he said, adding the seed might have to wait in the ground a while before it rained. To the south at Bookham, Tony Armour, “Glenrock”, says there are no alarm bells ringing in his part of the world. “I’ve lived about 60 years and about half of the summers have been like this,” he said, two days before he got a good fall of about 40mm across the property.

Before that his dry feed, mostly native pastures, had probably been going off a bit quicker than usual, but solid barley and lupin mixes of 16 to 17 per cent protein were keeping his self-replacing flock in reasonable nick. He said long-term averages had most months at Bookham getting about 60 to 70 millimetres of rain, but in the summer months there were huge variations in which “you might get none, and you might get 200mm.

“Really everything is a day to day proposition, we might have to lighten numbers to make way for breeding stock, but that’s part of our regular management.”

KLR Marketing’s Grahame Rees said the most critical element was balancing pasture inventory. “I hear the word ‘hope’ a lot and I don’t think that’s a very good strategy considering the weather,” he said. “In Queensland, you’ve got people at Hughenden who have had six years of drought, four of them without stock.

“You must feel like you’re in control – once you’ve got your stocking rate under your carrying capacity you are in control,” he said.

“There’s no excuse for a sheep or a cow to be losing weight, there’s good money to be had in the market, take the cash and spend when conditions are better.”

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