3 September, 2020
Ounce of prevention worth a tonne of cure
CENTRAL QUEENSLAND producers will have a suite of on-farm decision-making tools for spring at their fingertips with the launch of Meat and Livestock Australia’s Spring Hub this week.
MLA has compiled seasonal tips and resources in the one location on its website, covering key spring management practices specific to production type and region including northern cattle, southern cattle, sheep and goats.
AgPro Management Director Consultant and Advisor to MLA’s Spring Hub, Ed Riggall, said most producers failed to utilise 60 per cent of spring pastures.
“Whether spring is great, good or poor, ‘use it or lose it’ is the guiding principle,” Mr Riggall said.
MLA Research, Development and Adoption General Manager, Michael Crowley, said the Spring Hub equipped producers with a toolkit to prepare pastures and plan livestock activities.
“Like other hubs MLA has been developing, for things as wide-ranging as genetics, mental health, dung beetles, leucaena, phosphorous, and Covid-19, we’re trying to curate relevant content for producers to save them time,” Mr Crowley said.
“The Spring Hub includes advice from some of Australia’s most respected advisors, sharing their tips to guide on-farm management decisions through late winter and into spring for northern Australia, Queensland, New South Wales and the southern states.”
Niethe Consultancies Principal and Spring Hub Advisor, Geoff Niethe, said conditions would be variable across Northern Australia and Central Queensland coming into spring.
“Some areas had good rainfall and exceptional pasture growth last summer,” Mr Niethe said, “but the concentrated two-month growing season means pastures hayed off and went to seed quickly. Other areas had another failed season.
“This year would be a turning point for many pastures. Some subsoil moisture creates potential for a more typical or early start to the growing season and there’s plenty of seed ready to germinate.
“If producers can give this new seed time to germinate and establish before applying too much grazing pressure, there is potential for land condition to improve.”
Mr Niethe said it was critical Central Queensland producers assessed their feed supply going into summer, and adjusted their stocking rates accordingly.
“Graziers should take into account the impact of winter rain and quality and quantity of groundcover, as the bulk of calves will fall between August and October,” Mr Niethe said.
“We should welcome spring rain if it falls, but not rely on it to get through summer.”
Mr Niethe said a mid-dry season forage budget in July-August would determine if feed would last until the next production point.
“Graziers should aim to retain at least 10-15 centimetres of pasture stubble in the paddocks going into summer to accelerate the response to season-breaking rain and ensure topsoil is retained,” Mr Niethe said.
“Graziers should aim to have stock numbers at their lowest in spring and early summer, allowing numbers to increase naturally so extra stock are not outstripping pasture supplies during pasture recovery.”
A comprehensive range of feed and stock budgeting tools, calculators and manuals are available via MLA’s Spring Hub at https://www.mla.com.au/extension-training-and-tools/