Let's take a moment for reflect on where we are now and look forward to prepare for the season ahead
Are you meeting requirements now to hit the pastures running?
Its not going to start raining grass in the next couple of weeks, so are you meeting stock needs now, as their requirements are increasing with autumn lambing and joining preparation for next Autumn calving?
It's a tough time of year to maintain productivity during tight times, however now is crucial to make those checks to hit the ground running when the pastures are ready to go.
Are you feeding enough forage to physically fill the animal?
Is the energy density high enough, to get cows cycling and the ewes milk flowing for the autumn lambs?
Do you have a transition management plan to ease the animals onto pastures, to allow both rumen adaptation and pasture establishment to maintain growth through winter?
These are all questions that can make the year ahead a successful one. For a strong pasture establishment and to begin grazing at full speed, we are looking at still 6-10 weeks away. For that reason we need to keep feed up to stock now so we can remain productive throughout the year and avoid playing catchup when we should be excelling.
Confinement feeding is a valuable tool to implement for a short term period, allowing greater control over weight gain and having the animals close by to monitor progress, disease and health.
At this stage in the game those who have decided to run a confinement feeding system will be well into it, and for those who didn't, now is a great time to assess if confinement feeding may be something you need to implement in the future to make sure you are in the correct position coming into Autumn.
Did it work? Lets take this opportunity to review how you are travelling this year, and if there are any updates for next Summer-Autumn feeding program.
Were you adequately prepared to feed out through summer to maintain growth rates and production targets?
Did you meet the targets you had set? Why/why not?
Did you have higher losses or disease than you had expected? Do you need to implement a plan to reduce this?
Regardless of which system you chose, was this the most economical decision? Did you get return from your investment? Or could you have acheived greater results from investing in more infrastructure or equipment?
Take the opportunity to review summer feeding options with one of our local TRAC representatives.
Hoof Health Starts Now
It is hard to believe looking out over dry paddocks now but soon it will get wet. Grass will be green and we will start getting a few “hoppy”/ lame sheep. Not only are these lame sheep frustrating to move but their lack of willingness to walk limits their pasture intake. A drop in dry matter intake (DMI) will limit their ability to put on weight, grow a foetus, produce milk and even grow wool.
The hoof is made from horn formed from keratin, similar to human hair and finger nails. Zinc is a major component in forming strong health hoof horn. Like building a house there is no point having strong bricks if the mortar in no good, this is where biotin come in.
Biotin helps to strengthen the join between the keratin blocks, not only forming a strong bond but one that is more water repellent. Also like building a house, growing hoof horn doesn’t happen overnight. It will take months to grow and strengthen hooves, so if we want strong water repellent hoves for our sheep during winter we need to start feeding them a supplement with extra zinc and biotin now.
- Owen Rees, Rumen Productivity Consultant
Autumn Calving Preparation Going Forward
We are in tight times waiting for the Autumn break, but we can't sacrifice future productivity by not meeting animal requirements now and fully feeding livestock.
It takes approximately 60 days for follicles to grow to ovulatory size, therefore we need to ensure our pre-joining nutrition is on a rising plain for at least 8 weeks before we put the bulls in to achieve for maximum reproductive success.
During this time the cow is recovering from giving birth, working hard to produce milk and trying to hold condition while feed quality is at an all time low - all of which are not sending signals to the cow she is in prime position to carry another calf and have the ability to produce strong hormones for cycling and conception.
Meeting maintenance in the lead up to joining sets the foundations and is just as important as nutrition through the joining period. Checking the quality and quantity of feed to ensure protein and energy are in check to provide the cow with enough nutrients to support her calf and to be in ideal condition for joining is the best start.
If you have any questions about energy and protein requirements for cow and calf units, please do not hesitate to call one of our friendly advisers.
Staggers - Keep an eye on stock for any signs of staggers over the next month such has shaking, wobbling, overheating and abnormal behaviour. As soon as you identify a potential issue use TPM Flock Boost Staggers Preventer or TPM Bovine Boost Toxin Binder to help get your animals back to health ASAP. Call of our ruminant experts to further discuss management options.
Managing Autumn Pastures - keep up hand feeding to keep animals moving forward. Avoid nailing autumn pastures too soon and sacrificing growth for the rest of the year. Allow annuals to establish and your perennials to regain their vigour for better stands.
Transition feeding onto grass - when the pastures are ready to go - look at options to transition the rumen. Rumen change takes 3-6 weeks to fully adapt, ease animals onto grass and keep up effective fibre and salt to help animals deal with the fast flow rate and the soluble protein present in lush grass.