Nutrition & Animal Health

Sheep producers get real options and mental relief at late break day

Sheep Central, May 24, 2024

Tim Leeming – helping producers find solutions.

SUPPORT to the mental health of Western District sheep producers battling the repercussions of low rainfall has been a major benefit of a ‘Managing the late break’ field day in Victoria this week.

Western Victorian producers are battling a “perfect storm” of insufficient rain to generate a pasture wedge for ewes with high pregnancy rates that have lambed or are close to lambing.

The producers have had to supplementary feed sheep at rising costs for an extended period in containment areas and sacrifice paddocks.

The field day was organized by the Glenelg Grass Growers BestWool/BestLamb Group with support from Australian Wool innovation and Agriculture Victoria.

Co-organiser Tim Leeming said an audit of the 300-plus producers at the day showed that 10 percent had ewes that have started lambing.

“Seventy percent of the audience were lambing in the next month … that’s the traditional winter lambers, especially in the northern half of the district.”

He said it was good to hear that many producers had ewes in containment areas and sacrifice paddocks; an estimated half of those at the field day at Nareen on Tuesday.

Mr Leeming said he remembers it raining at the last late-break forum he was involved in in 2005, “but unfortunately it didn’t happen yesterday (Tuesday).”

About 85 percent of the producers had done the Lifetime Ewe Management course and 90pc indicated their ewe pregnancy scanning rates were 10-30pc higher than average.

“Thirty percent of that 90pc have had their best scanning they’ve ever ever had in their life – so they are fully loaded.

“I rammed home the fact that the people who have not scanned for triplets it is going to hurt them, because they don’t know how much that foetal loading is going to restrict that energy intake that is so important in late pregnancy,” he said.

“The great thing is that we could talk about megajoules of energy and most of the audience knew about it, they understood.”

He said grain traders and fertilizer company representatives at the day were able to give producers real feeding options, despite the scarcity of lupins and beans.

“There are thousands of tonnes of maize (corn) sitting up in the Riverina that was planted in the irrigation areas and after a good harvest.

“So we can get 15 megajoule/kilogram down landed around Coleraine for $420/tonne – it works out at about 2.8 cents/megajoule – amazing,” he said.

“And it is high starch, but it’s a starch that is a gradually broken down, so it’s safe – it’s low protein, but massive energy.”

Mr Leeming believed the biggest benefit of the day was what it meant to the mental health of the producers by sharing and discussing their issues.

“It was awesome to have Ken Solly to finish up on mental health.

“He really inspires people to keep their chins up, stop arguing, work as a team, communicate and plan.”

Speakers included speed feed strategies from Josh Brown at McDonald Rural Services and Vickery Bros’ Elizabeth Kennedy. Veterinarian Jane Gaussen covered the health of the pregnant and lambing ewes and Dave Vickery from JK Milling spoke on grain and fodder access. Mr Leeming and Richard Edgar spoke on containment feeding designs and strategies.


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  1. Steven Harrison, May 25, 2024

    Sorry for being blunt, but if maize is available at $420/tonne landed, get onto it and feed it sooner rather than later.

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