Welcome to our Spring update! We have put together some information that we think will be relevant this season, especially for forward planning and not missing those key dates.
Autumn Lambing Preparation
For some regions now is the time to start preparing for Autumn lambing. This can be challenging depending on the season, as feed quality and quantity starts to decline. The Ewe needs to be on a rising plane of nutrition to stimulate cycling and grow good quality eggs. Throughout the joining period energy is still required for that egg to turn into an embryo and implant firmly and successfully.
Things we want to keep in mind:
Body Condtion Score (BCS)- Start examining your ewes now to determine their current BCS and if they need to gain or maintain weight. We are aiming for a condition score of 3.5 for ovulation and maximum conception potential. Maiden ewes must be 85% of their mature weight by joining.
Balanced diet - The ewes body needs to know that it is in good condition to carry lambs. Ensuring the ewe has its basic needs met is top priority. Maintenance off the back of spring grass is more cost effective than having to reach critical targets in summer.
Maintaining mineral balance - We recommend offering TPM Flock Boost two weeks prior to and during the joining period. TPM Flock Boost is a proven, cost effective mineral supplements containing Essential Salts, Macro & Micro minerals Inc Vitamins AD&E.
Access to clean water is crucial
Offload the passengers - Cull now to remove any animals with poor fertility or health issues that won't correct in time such as udder deformities or lameness - anything that will limit their ability to rear a lamb.
Spring Lambing Preparation Ram Preparation
Checklist for Ready Rams
Remember the 5 T's !!
For February joining, we need to set our Rams up from the start of december.
12-16 weeks prior assess the Body Condition Score (BCS). We are aiming for a score of 3.5, so if they are a bit too light we still have time to get them to productive condition with energy grains such as barley, to avoid any stumbling blocks to producing viable sperm.
8 weeks prior to joining, check your rams Teeth, Toes, Testes and Tossle to ensure there are no abnormalities, and replace any rams that won't hold up through joining. This time is also key to start feeding high protein diets for optimal sperm production. It takes 6-8 weeks for mature sperm to develop, so preparation must start early.
It takes 6 weeks to get good hoof hardening and hoof improvement. Supplying TPM Hoof Health as a loose lick in the paddock provides Copper, Biotin and Zinc, plus all the essential vitamins and minerals. Copper strengthens the horn and connective tissue of the hoof. Biotin is necessary for keratin production, a structural protein in horn development, and Zinc, for hoof hardness and activates enzymes required for would healing and the prevention of lesions and dermatitis.
Lastly, don't forget to shear at the latest 3 months before joining, allowing them to have a short wool cover to help with heat stress, as well as adequate shade and water.
Early Weaning Calves
Prices have been high for red meat this season, however with the expected summer forecast for SE and Western Vic a longer, dry summer may be on the cards which can have detrimental impacts on bought in feed, and more importantly quality, especially when the rest of Australia has been struggling with the dry conditions.
Spring 2016 saw perennial pastures mature rapidly increasing NDF in grass diets beyond 60% resulting in reduced energy density, resulting in significant impact on animal performance.
Weaning the autumn drop calves early allows us to put the cow on a Maintenance only diet, rather than feeding for maintenance + lactation. Therefore we can now allocate our best pastures to our young stock and use alternative resources to increase daily weight gains.
For example, the dairy industry removes calves from the cow at day 0, they are on milk for approximately 12 weeks and then weaned. In the beef industry, the typical weaning age is 7-8 months. There are simple strategies we can use to pull this date back by 2-3 months, for a weaning age of 5 months old without sacrificing growth.
Early Rumen Development is the Key The trick dairy guys use is supplying a quality grain meal from the very - beginning containing high protein, energy and key nutrient, starch. Starch is required to develop the papillae in the lining of the rumen, the papillae are little nodules that increase the surface area and absorption sites for VFA's - the animals energy supply. Therefore the earlier we can develop the papillae, the faster growth we can achieve. By developing a working rumen early on, the calf can obtain it's energy requirements from home grown pasture and supplements without the requirement of milk from the cow, potentially compromising her condition into the next breeding season
Supplementary Feeding Being Prepared
In some areas spring has been a little late to join the party, but soon some of us will have more grass than we know what to do with! Unfortunately however this healthy supply of feed won't last, our pastures will turn and we may need to start supplementary feeding.
How to prepare so that we don't get lags in growth rate or hit with high fodder prices because everyone has just realised there is no more feed. It is vital to be prepared by:
1. Allocating feed correctly - The sooner we can wean young stock the better so that we can put mum out in the back paddock and just feed for maintenance, focusing our inputs on maximising growth rates in our young stock. We need to do this by preparing the rumen early through transition feeding. And don't forget your passengers, be careful not to compromise next year's production by having passengers so quit non-productive animals while prices remain high.
2. Balancing the quality through the change in season - We are going to go from Low NDF, High Protein and High Energy feed to High NDF, Low Quality pastures soon. Again, by preparing the rumen with grain feeding now, we can balance and utlise the excess nutrients with starch from grain so its not wasted, and hold our animals through onto lower quality feed with energy and protein grains.
3. Protein - Typically, animals will not do well on summer dry standing feed due to the reduced ability to digest the forage. Dry standing feed is low in crude protein and high in fibre. For the rumen to function well and extract energy from feed there must be sufficient protein in the diet -protein grows more rumen bacteria to ferment the fibre to energy. Look at your available protein sources that can be simply and efficiently fed out:
Lupins - an excellent source of RDP that can be fed out alone or with barley.
TPM Dry Feed - the best option when you don't have time to cart grain to them every day. TPM Dry Feed is a loose lick mineral supplement to help utilise this feed, by using slow release protein technology. This type of diet is suitable for livestock requiring maintenance/small amount of weight gain. For young stock requiring growth we would recommend a more energy dense solution. Contact one of our productivity consultants to discuss your options.
Fodder Conservation Silage.. Is it cheap feed?
If done well... yes! However, If the quality is poor, it's expensive due to losses in wastage and animal performance. The weather often gets in the way, but there are things we can do to manage this and conserve good quality home grown forage. We need to test it, learn from it to make a plan for next year and, do everything possible to cut at the right time and keep that oxygen out.
Call one of our consultants to find out more about how we can save on costs later by making good silage now.