A sheep operation that has used containment lots since 2016 says while the setup is an important tool during drought, it can also help maintain pastures in the lead up to lambing.
Matthew Martin, Old Cobran Poll Merino stud, Mullengandra, displayed his pens as part of a workshop on feed budgeting hosted by the Holbrook Landcare Network.
Mr Martin said the stud moved from Deniliquin to Mullengandra in 2015 with just under 6000 breeding ewes and 200 Angus cows.
The operation is run on 1800 hectares, of which 600ha is bush and land left as a covenant with the Biodiversity Conservation Trust.
"So we're working with a large amount of stock in a reasonably small area," Mr Martin said.
"I would say that the containment pens are a great tool in the drought but we would use it nearly every summer and autumn to give you a feed gap, to allow the feed to come away when you need it most in winter for lambing."
Mr Martin said maintaining ground cover was the main driver for using the containment lots.
"The main things you just don't want to tear it up, because it takes a while to get that cover and I always found the you get that first break of rain, the sheep will just run around and nip it all off, as quick as it grew they would just take it all off," Mr Martin said.
"I found it difficult for the grass to keep in front of the stock, most years.
"I always I say feed grows feed, for the grass to grow it needs more surface area."
The stud started building pens at the end of 2016 and have since modified the designs to better suit their system.
Initially the feed troughs were on the inside of the pens, but the operation moved the troughs to the outside to make it easier to feed out and to reduce the amount of feed wasted.
"Once the sheep are grain trained, they work it out really really quickly," Mr Martin said.
"I work on 30 centimetres per animal for trough space."
Jim Meckiff, JM Livestock, Wagga Wagga, said research had shown 10 to 15 per cent of grain was wasted when trail fed out along the ground.
"When grains are $150 a tonne, its not so bad but when its $400 a tonne, it makes troughs sound like a good idea," Mr Meckiff said.
Mr Meckiff said the main idea of stock containment areas was to protect investments made to the farm.
"The point of a stock containment area, although we are looking after our sheep and cattle better and meeting our nutritional requirements a whole lot better then, say a bale of straw out in the paddock and then ripping bark off the trees, is to preserve domestic investment into your pastures," Mr Meckiff said.
"The natural resources within the farm, the native pastures that you might have existing, and massive amounts of finance into our fertiliser programs.
"So if we can keep the nutrients, keep the ground cover, infiltrate the water better, we get better recovery post drought, we get much better longevity out of our pastures."
Containment lots could allow producers to keep progressing with genetic gain rather than destocking when feed ran out, he said.
"You don't want to be destocking a losing production, we want to be hitting the ground running when the drought breaks," he said.