DPIRD’s new online webpages to help livestock farmers’ pasture and feed management

Olivia FordCountryman
Pasture management advice to help livestock producers optimise feed availability during dry seasonal conditions can found on DPIRD’s Season 2024 webpages.
Camera IconPasture management advice to help livestock producers optimise feed availability during dry seasonal conditions can found on DPIRD’s Season 2024 webpages. Credit: Kathy Saunders/Kathy Saunders

A new online resource with up-to-date pasture and feed management information is now available for WA farmers facing this year’s dry seasonal conditions.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development has published the Seasons 2024 webpages to help livestock producers find ways to manage their pasture and feed.

The webpages includes a list of resources, including an article on deferred grazing and sheep at the break of season in WA’s South West.

Principal research scientist Clinton Revell said farmers could establish and maintain pasture productivity through winter and autumn by deferring grazing for some paddocks.

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He said producers may have to consider implementing confinement feeding, sowing a forage crop or using a “sacrificial paddock” to manage feed availability.

“Delaying grazing until about five weeks after plant emergence until the feed on offer, or FOO, reaches 500-800kg of dry matter per hectare will help improve pasture growth for the rest of the season,” he said.

“Supplementary feeding will need to continue so feed budgeting remains essential, as well as testing hay for annual ryegrass toxicity and monitoring flocks for signs of poisoning.”

Another webpage is focused on information on grazing crops for extra winter feed and has information on topics such as lightly grazing canola and cereal crops before stem elongation.

According to the webpage, there is also still an option to sow cereals such as oats, barley, triticale and cereal rye as a forage into a sacrificial pasture paddock.

Dr Revell said producers could achieve winter pasture growth rates of 20kg of dry matter per hectare with cereal forage crops using suitable stocking rates and rotational or strip grazing.

“Target better quality paddocks with low pasture density and sow at a rate of 80-100kg/ha, aided by a starter nitrogen application of 5-10kg/ha, if soil nitrogen is low,” he said.

“For best results, protect crops from pests and defer grazing until plants are anchored.”

The Season 2024 webpages has more dry season information and advice, such as targets for different classes of sheep, a video to help farmers estimate FOO, a deferred grazing calculator and a strip grazing calculator.

The WA Government’s Drought Response WA website also has information and aid for producers, such as weather outlooks, mental health resources and financial support.

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