SHEEP producers are using a popular drought feed calculator to estimate their future grain needs while prices are low.
The Australian-first app, NSW Department of Primary Industries Drought Feed Calculator has gained national and global traction with an estimated 9000 downloads since its release in October 2014.
NSW DPI sheep development officer, Geoff Casburn, said the universal appeal of the livestock feed app is reflected in the number of downloads recorded across Australia, India, United States, Brazil, Turkey, Mexico, South Africa, Pakistan, Egypt and Italy.
The app is designed for use in the paddock and is popular with producers who use it to develop well-informed and cost efficient feed strategies, he said.
“NSW farmers managing livestock following recent bushfires have benefited from the app, which was used to calculate feed rations to maintain stock.
“This February, the app was downloaded on 200 android and 250 apple devices and we expect those numbers to increase if conditions continue to deteriorate across NSW,” he said.
Mr Casburn said the app is not well-suited to assist the production feeding of store lambs in a feedlot, but it has been used to work out what ration types are cheaper on a megajoule or energy basis and protein basis.
“The other thing it is quite good for is working out how much grain they might need to store for a certain period.
“So they can go into the market now with the grain being relatively cheap and work out a certain drought ration and how long their current feed supplies are likely to last.”
Users can develop full feeding rations for sheep and cattle by calculating daily feed requirements of dry, pregnant, lactating and growing animals, in tough times and plenty.
The app can calculate the total amount of feed required per head and for a mob of animals, over a selected period of time.
Mr Casburn said the app provides estimated energy, protein and dry matter values for 71 different feeds, including hay, grain, silage and alternative feeds.
“Feed quality varies and the Drought Feed Calculator really comes into its own when producers can use feed test results.
“Laboratory tests, such as those available from the NSW DPI Feed Quality Service give producers the most accurate value of available feed,” he said.
“In drought situations producers can use the app to quickly work out minimum feed requirements for animals with a range of nutritional needs.
“Users can easily assess the value of different feeds by comparing the results for up to three feeds, as well as mixed rations.”
The Drought Feed Calculator was developed by DPI to consolidate information generated from more than 30 years of research and on-farm results into a simple, easy-to-use app.