Livestock producers are now planning for difficult conditions through summer and autumn, going into winter.
NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and Local Land Services have advised producers to use available tools and tactics to develop feasible solutions for worst case to best case scenarios.
DPI sheep development officer, Geoff Casburn, said the free Drought and Supplementary Feed Calculator app is available from the Apple App Store and Google Play to help calculate feed requirements, costs and budgets and develop cost effective feeding strategies.
"Involve your whole business, use the app, your own experience and knowledge, assessments of current conditions and weather forecasts to develop feasible solutions for best to worst case scenarios," Mr Casburn said.
"Decisions to feed all remaining stock, sell some or all is complex - it depends on your ability to containment feed, access funds, repay debt and return to full operation when the season breaks."
Develop a livestock feeding checklist, including:
- current stock numbers, age, status and value
- pasture condition and potential for growth
- opportunity cropping potential
- grain and fodder on hand using feed quality tests and the app to calculate how long feed will last and likely shortfalls
- rising feed prices and associated costs, including interest on loans
- potential break-even prices for livestock
- human capacity and support
DPI analytical chemist, Richard Meyer said feed quality testing is the only sure way to get value for money, provide confidence the feed will deliver adequate levels of energy and protein, and check feed will not pose health risks to livestock.
"Drought conditions have increased the risk of high nitrate and prussic acid levels in some hays, silages and forage crops," Mr Meyer said.
If livestock safety is in doubt, test plants before stock graze.
Never allow stock to graze sorghum less than 50 centimetres high and always introduce animals with a full stomach.
Ensure sorghum hay is cut during low-risk conditions as prussic acid content survives the hay-making process.