Experts warn producers to brace for winter feeding

Winter feeding - do you have a plan?

Even with the recent rainfall across the Southern Tablelands pasture growth will be limited due to cold conditions and short winter days.

Local Land Services district veterinarian Lou Baskind is urging producers, who aren't already, to consider supplementary feeding their stock.

This season, stock are heading into cooler conditions with minimal reserves.

"Winter on the tablelands is a tough time in an average year, so going in with short pastures and on the back of a dry year adds significant challenges.

"Every enterprise is different, but a 'hope for the best approach' could lead to disaster."

Producers should assess pasture and fodder reserves for both quantity and quality.

There are a number of variables which could impact the health of stock this winter.

Stock can suffer cold stress if wet from rain or frost and there is a forceful wind, or prolonged cold conditions, he said: "put simply, animals need more food to maintain their body temperature in cold weather."

If pastures are limited stock movement will use up more energy. "Animals need to spend more time walking and grazing to get enough feed each day. The energy cost of walking to chase feed needs to be considered in their requirements. This is enhanced if the landscape is steep."

As well as shorter days restricting grazing time.

The class of livestock (dry, pregnant, or lactating) and livestock condition will also influence the amount of additional feed needed, as well a number of other factors.

"In late pregnancy, especially for twin bearing ewes if feeding doesn't match their requirement they can suffer from starvation, pregnancy toxaemia, and birthing difficulties. These conditions often result in death," Ms Baskind said.

Introducing high energy feeds such as grain, pellets, dried distillers grain, lupins et cetera into the diet will outperform hay alone, he said.

So, how much additional feed do livestock need?

  • Contact South East Local Land Services for more information on 4824 1900.
Local Land Services district veterinarian Lou Baskind is urging producers, who aren't already, to consider supplementary feeding their stock.

Local Land Services district veterinarian Lou Baskind is urging producers, who aren't already, to consider supplementary feeding their stock.