A FREE app developed by the NSW Department of Primary Industries is helping farmers facing drought and rising stock feed costs develop cost-effective feeding strategies.
NSW DPI livestock development officer, Geoff Casburn, said the Drought Feed Calculator app would help simplify cattle or sheep producers’ feeding decisions.
“The app provides estimated energy, protein and dry matter values for 71 different feeds, including hay, grain, silage and alternative feeds,” Mr Casburn said.
“In drought situations producers can use the app to quickly work out minimum feed requirements for animals with a range of nutritional needs.
Mr Casburn said selecting the right feed could save producers time and money.
“Cereal grains are often cheaper in terms of energy content and transport costs compared with hay – we advise farmers to consider delivery costs per tonne,” he said.
“The app can provide crucial information, for example a producer with 1000 dry sheep weighing 50kg each can compare feeding costs for three months on either pasture hay at $300 per tonne on farm with barley at $370 per tonne on farm. Barley contains about a third more energy than the hay and in three months the producer could save more than $4000 by selecting barley (if there is sufficient other roughage available).
“Producers can easily calculate how much feed is needed and when it’s needed, so they can plan ahead and allocate resources more effectively.”
Mr Casburn said feed selection was a key factor in transport costs.
“A 45-foot drop deck can carry anything from 25 tonnes of high-density, large square bales of hay to 10 tonnes of small round bales, in comparison a 36-foot tipper can cart 25 to 27 tonnes of grain with higher energy levels, at lower costs,” he said.
“Feed quality varies and the app really comes into its own when producers use feed test results.
Laboratory tests, such as those available from the NSW DPI Feed Quality Service, give producers the most accurate value of available feed.
The Drought Feed Calculator app, free from the App Store or Google Play, offers more than 30 years of collected DPI scientific data and experience, and puts that in the palm of the producer’s hand.
- NSW Government drought feeding and nutrition information is available here.
Livestock nutrition in dry times workshops
Meanwhile NSW Western Local Land Services is encouraging landholders and community members to attend one of its upcoming ‘Livestock nutrition in dry times’ workshops, as tough seasonal conditions continue throughout much of region.
The workshops, which will be held from 18 to 21 June at Mossgiel, Anabranch, Tilpa and Packsaddle, will be presented by the respected Geoff Duddy, who is the owner and manager of Sheep Solutions and has over 30 years of experience in the industry.
Topics that will be covered at the workshops include:
- the foundations of feeding
- maintenance vs production feeding
- comparing feed types
- feed test interpretation
- animal health concerns during dry periods.
Western Local Land Services Team Leader Gemma Turnbull said it was a bonus to have someone as knowledgeable as Mr Duddy confirmed as the presenter.
“Geoff brings a wealth of knowledge and is the ideal person to be running these workshops,” Ms Turnbull said.
“There will be a lot of great information on offer for landholders and we encourage them to bring along any questions about livestock feeding to ask Geoff.”
- Mossgiel Hall, 10 am Monday, 18 June
- Glen Esk Station (Anabranch), 10 am Tuesday, 19 June
- Tilpa Hall, 10 am Wednesday, 20 June
- Packsaddle Roadhouse, 10 am Thursday, 21 June.
RSVP by Friday, 15 June to Mitch Plumbe on 0408 241 200 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The workshop series was organised in conjunction with Sheep Solutions NSW while other agencies will be present at the workshops. Funding was through Catchment Action NSW.
Sources: NSW DPI, NSW Western Local Land Services.