On-Farm Options – Feed budgeting and tactical management
Tactical decisions define how the farming system is managed in the short term to make the best use of pastures, and to adapt to variable price and season scenarios. Farm systems are dynamic, so it’s not possible to provide recommendations for short term management in every scenario. However, using a range of tools combined with regular monitoring of pastures and livestock, it is possible to set trigger points for variables such as Feed On Offer (FOO), rainfall, soil moisture, stock prices, feed prices and livestock condition. These decisions can inform changes to stocking rates, purchase or conservation of fodder, or movement of stock from one paddock to another in a rotation.
Measuring and estimating feed on offer and quality
The AWI Feed On Offer Library provides a comprehensive gallery of photos with corresponding quality which is important for feed and fodder budgeting.
Feed and fodder budgets
Feed budgets are important for enabling day to day management of stock movements and feeding. They are also important for longer term planning for tactical management and fodder purchasing in the months ahead.
The EverGraze Feedbase Planning and Budgeting Tool contains a number of different calculators. Full details of how these tools and calculators are used are shown in the Tools section of this website.
- Simple paddock budgets (includes quick and easy budgets for determining how long the paddock will last, how many stock can be run in a paddock and how many hectares are required for each mob at lambing).
- Seasonal pasture budgets can be used to ensure that pasture targets in autumn or winter are achieved. These longer term budgets estimate pasture FOO at critical times and then adjustments can be made to supplementary feeding, use of Nitrogen or deferred grazing to ensure critical target are met.
When developing feed and fodder budgets, the MLA Rainfall to Pasture Growth Outlook tool can be used to predict pasture growth relative to the norm in your region, based on soil moisture profiles.
Use caution when completing feed budgets – the calculators and resource tables used with these feed budgets, rotation planners and other tools have been put together with the best information available, but should only be used as a guide. It is essential that pasture and animals are monitored regularly.
Developing grazing plans
Tactical management of green feed
Research at Wagga Wagga showed that flushing ewes by grazing them on green feed (such as lucerne) for two weeks prior and two weeks during joining could result in higher twinning rates and around 10% extra lambs marked. However, the opportunity to graze ewes on lucerne needs to be compared to other option such as finishing lambs or growing weaners during the summer/autumn months.
The EverGraze Green Feed Allocation Tool can be used to help with this decision by comparing the economic benefit of each option, accounting for variables such as stock on hand, available green feed, lamb prices and feed prices. This tool is very new and is currently in a pilot phase. We would be keen to receive your feedback.
The Wagga Wagga EverGraze Proof Site also demonstrated the value of flexible stocking rates and marketing with lucerne in the system. See the key message – Flexibility in livestock systems is important for risk management in a variable climate .