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Stubble may be inferior after heat

Zach RelphCountryman
Sheep grazing summer stubbles in WA.
Camera IconSheep grazing summer stubbles in WA. Credit: Sarah Hyde

Sheep producers have been put on high alert as summer conditions intensify.

Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development veterinary officer Danny Roberts said that with the harvest coming to an end, growers had started putting sheep onto stubble.

But Dr Roberts warned this season’s stubbles might not contain sufficient nutritional value to sustain sheep at condition score 2.5.

“Leaf material provides the most nutritious component of the sheep diet when grazing dry cereal stubbles, which comprises only 6 per cent of the stubble biomass at harvest,” he said.

“The unharvested or split grain on the ground also have a reduced energy and protein content compared with harvested whole seed.”

The warning comes after the Bureau of Meteorology released its summer outlook last month, forecasting warmer and drier conditions nationwide.

The bureau has predicted WA rainfall to be below average this summer, with only coastal areas from the Mid West to the Kimberley showing increased chances of wetter-than-average conditions.

Dr Roberts said water availability and quality was important when grazing stubbles.

“To prevent sheep from overgrazing around watering points, strategically located chaff heaps may attract sheep to graze beyond the 600m around troughs and dams,” he said.

“Moveable watering points may be another option in large paddocks.

“On hot days during summer adult sheep will require more than 10 litres of water a day but will avoid warm water.”

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