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Time to take stock

North Coast Local Land Services is urging beef producers to seriously reassess their current situation for the remaining winter months heading into spring. The knock on effect of a dry summer and autumn has left the majority of the region with much lower pasture, and water levels than usual. Cattle are now heading into the hardest part of the year with minimal reserves.

Nathan Jennings Senior Land Services Officer said despite decent falls around Lismore much of the north coast is yet to receive anything substantial. Recent rainfall around Lismore has further reduced the quality of any remaining tropical pastures with some low lying areas inundated. Any further rain in the next couple of months will have little effect on tropical pastures as growth will remain restricted by cold temperatures and short winter days.

The stock feed market remains under pressure with demand often exceeding supply across the state, causing an impact on price. Many producers are already supplementary feeding.

“Winter and spring on the North Coast is a tough time in an average year, so going in with short pastures, and limited water on the back of a dry year adds significant challenges,” Nathan said.

“It's critical when you are doing the budgets you fully cost the long-term needs of your stock because there is no guarantee conditions are going to ease soon.”

"Every enterprise is different, but a 'hope for the best approach' could lead to disaster."

Nathan is urging producers, to reassess cattle body condition, pasture and water availability, and most important finances.

“For some, checking and adjusting the budget will help make some sound decisions very quickly.”

“The class of cattle (dry, pregnant, or lactating) and their condition will influence the amount and quality of feed needed. Cattle in poor body condition can suffer cold stress if wet from rain or frost. Animals need more feed to maintain their body temperature in cold weather.

“I’m seeing a lot of breeding herds being fed hay or silage yet the cows are continuing to lose weight because their energy demand still exceeds what is being provided, remember the quality of the feed (Energy Protein and Fibre) is more important than quantity alone.”

Ms Louise Orr, General Manager North Coast Local Land Services, said the local team are ready to help landholders make informed decisions.

“The Beef Cattle Health and Husbandry guide available from North Coast Local Land Services has a guide to body condition scoring beef cattle, as well as nutritional and water requirements to help producers in assessing and making decisions. Our sustainable agriculture team also produce a regular stockfeed update to help producers to make better-informed decisions.

“Regardless of your planned approach for the coming months take the time to check the potential impacts of your choices against your budget, then set a date to reassess, act and go again.