The Northern Tablelands Local Land Services Sustainable Agriculture team has reminded producers about the importance of getting feed tested.
Despite recent rain, many producers have had to continue feeding their stock.
The Local Land Services advice says feed testing can help livestock producers understand the production potential of feed at hand and its suitability for different purposes, such as for use with different animal phases, including maintenance, production, pregnant or lactating animals.
To assist producers, Northern Tablelands Local Land Servicesis offering up to two feed quality tests, one water quality test and soil testing free of charge to producers in the Northern Tablelands.
Senior LLS officer Tahnee Manton said knowing the quality of feed helped producers to predict the quantity needed for their livestock and was especially important if they are buying feed from sources they haven't used before.
"It can be very difficult to tell a feed's quality just by looking at it, and it costs the same to transport good fodder as it does to transport poor quality feed," she said.
"A small difference in feed quality can make a big difference in the amount of livestock feed required."
One of the most important principles when sourcing livestock feed was to cost out the most economical feed source.
This can be determined by knowing the dry matter content and the energy within the feed, she said.
It was also more economical to source feed with a high dry matter content, such as hay and grain, if transporting it long distances.
Ms Mahton said a feed test would show the nutritional composition of feed, or the feed value, be it hay, silage, grain, pasture or pellets.
This included the megajoules of metabolisable energy per kilogram of dry matter (MJ ME/Kg DM), crude protein (CP) and dry matter (DM) per kilogram of the feed.
She said this helped producers accurately formulate feed rations for their livestock.
The other principle LLS promoted was to source fodder with the highest and the cheapest energy value, often expressed as megajoules of metabolisable energy per kilogram of dry matter.
This could only be determined through a feed test.
The LLS says even small differences of 1MJ ME/kg DM could make a difference in the cost of feeding livestock and weight gain.
An example it provided was silage of 8MJ ME/kg DM compared to silage with 9 MJ ME/kg DM at the same price.
That 1MJ difference meant an extra 2kg of feed per head a day for an average mature, dry cow.
Across a herd of 50 head for 30 days, this would mean an extra three tonnes of feed. Across six months, an extra 18 tonnes of silage would be required.
Tips on how to formulate a ration are in the LLS' Drought Handbook.
- Visit www.droughthub.nsw.gov.au or contact 1300 795 299.