Ask plenty of questions before buying fodder.
This is the advice from Brett Littler, who says farmers need to be informed about the fodder they are buying in during the big dry sweeping the state.
Mr Littler, who is senior land services officer (livestock) with Central Tablelands Local Land Services (LLS), said the shortage of fodder had meant farmers had to wait for deliveries, and in some cases, they had come from interstate.
“Some hay and grain has been transported from as far as South Australia,” he said.
Mr Littler said in the past month there had been a shift towards different types of feed as winter approaches.
“We've seen a lot of white cotton seed coming into the mix over the past four weeks and we're also fielding a lot of questions about feed that is new to a lot of producers like vetch hay," he said.
Mr Littler urged farmers to ask plenty of questions.
"In times of drought when the pressure is on, we can make impulse decisions and spend a lot of money buying in fodder, but it's really worthwhile having the conversation first around rations and whether the fodder is suitable to your livestock. It's much easier to manage fodder once your situation has been assessed, rather than trying to fix a problem after the money has been spent and it's in the shed,” he said. “The amount and type of feeding required will depend on the quality of the feed, the size, type, condition, stage of pregnancy or lactation of livestock, what facilities or equipment are available, past feeding history of livestock and the degree that livestock have be affected by drought, so there are a lot of factors at play.”
Mr Littler said a feed test should be a priority.
“Don’t assume the quality of the fodder – it’s much easier to make an informed decision if you have the numbers in front of you,” he said. "Most farmers know with any new feedstuff, introduce it slowly. Don’t introduce new grain or pellets to sheep or cattle when they’re hungry. Fill them up first with something else, and as a rule of thumb, wean them on to it for 10 days if you can afford the time.”
Mr Littler said farmers could access advice on fodder through the DPI DroughtHub, under the information and resources tab, or they could contact LLS.