Not as simple as opening the gate

'Slowly but surely' best method for taking stock out of containment

News
Peter Parkman, Murringo, has just taken 2500 Merino ewes out of containment but is still feeding a reduced ration three weeks later. Photo: Suplied

Peter Parkman, Murringo, has just taken 2500 Merino ewes out of containment but is still feeding a reduced ration three weeks later. Photo: Suplied

Aa

Producers begin to ease sheep out of containment.

Aa

With good rain falling throughout the state, producers are letting sheep out of containment lots and back onto pasture. But, livestock consultants are warning that it's not as simple as just opening the gate.

Local Land Services mixed farming systems officer, Geoff Minchin said the key was to make the transition slowly but surely.

"You've invested a lot of money in those stock to get them to where they are," Mr Minchin said.

"An extra two three weeks feeding to get them out of containment safely is a minor investment compared to what's already been put into those sheep."

He said while it might be tempting to let sheep out as soon as a green tinge was sighted, green pick was not going to meet sheep's nutritional requirements.

"A lot of the lush short feed is 80-90 per cent water and the feed value in it is actually quite low," Mr Minchin said.

Geoff Minchin, LLS

Geoff Minchin, LLS

He advised waiting until pastures reached at least five to six centimetres before letting sheep on and that sheep should also be slowly introduced to green grass over a 10 day period.

"It's best to take them out of pens later in the afternoon, after they've had a feed of grain and are only going to intake a small amount of grass.

"I would suggest use laneways or paddocks that don't have lush Lucerne but just some fairly mundane pasture species, rye grass etc."

He recommended maintaining a full feed ration, including roughage, for the first week before slowly reducing.

"Reduce it every other day by 100 grams or so until you get down to zero.

"The NSW DPI Drought and Supplementary feed calculator (DASFC app) can help with this process."

If sheep were not eased onto grass they could develop pulpy kidney disease.

"The key sign of pulpy kidney is that good, healthy stock fall over and die pretty quickly," Mr Minchin said.

"I would strongly consider vaccinating on the way out of containment."

Peter Parkman, Orizaba, Murringo, has just taken 2500 Merino ewes out of containment.

"It was a good feeling all round, we were probably more overjoyed then the sheep," Mr Parkman said.

He said with the rain they'd received in the last couple of months, there was enough ground cover to consider letting them out.

"Fodder reserves were also getting low, they had been in there since late November."

He said they had let ewes out onto a phalaris, clover based pasture but had been keeping feed up to them.

"The early growth pasture doesn't have a lot of goodness in it so we kept supplementing them but we're easing back," Mr Parkman said.

"We're only feeding a couple of days a week instead of every second day."

Aa

From the front page

Sponsored by