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Green picks - the deceptive feed solution

The Central West Local Land Services Ag Advisory team are recommending producers, lucky enough to receive some rain, hold off on grazing early growth or ‘green pick’ paddocks.

Over the past few months, the region has seen some sporadic rainfall; however totals and the potential outcomes vary.

Some producers are supplementary feeding, some are still complete feeding in confinement or sacrifice paddocks, and others have put stock back into pasture paddocks.

While it’s tempting to put livestock into green paddocks to reduce feeding costs, producers should assess how much feed they actually have before deciding to re-introduce stock.

After a significant rainfall event, annual plants will germinate and surviving perennial plants will start producing leaves and tillers. This early growth or ‘green pick’ is high in water content and low in dry matter.

According to Central West Local Land Services Mixed Farming Officer Callen Thompson, dry matter is the important component of the plant as it contains nutrients livestock need for maintenance and growth.

“Grazing paddocks too early will not only reduce the pastures ability to grow, but will also have a negative effect on livestock performance,” Callen said

“It’s important to continue feeding or supplementing until there is enough dry matter in the pasture to adequately sustain livestock.”

Central West Local Land Services District Vets have also been providing regular livestock nutrition information to drought affected landholders.

Coonabarabran-based District Vet Sarah Maher advises producers that sheep require at least 400 kilograms of dry matter per hectare (kg DM/ha) to maintain body weight while cattle require approximately 900kg DM/ha.

“Where dry matter is lower, livestock will be unable to ingest the required nutrients,” Sarah said

“Producers should also consider pasture height, as it determines the amount an animal can eat. If available feed is very short, livestock won’t have enough time in the day to fill their gut.”

Drought ‘smokos’ and workshops targeted at addressing pasture and livestock nutrition concerns will continue to be held across the Central West in the New Year. To find out about scheduled events, or to contact your nearest Ag Advisory staff member or District Vet, please call 1300 795 299.

ENDS

Media contact: Fiona Townsend, Phone: M: 0428 284 252