Beef cattle producers are being urged to consider management options following a dry spell and severe frosts throughout August and Bureau of Meteorology forecasts which point to warmer and drier conditions over the next three months.
NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) north west beef cattle officer, David Llewelyn, said producers should review dry spell strategies for cattle management and ensure they have considered all the options available to them.
"Some breeding stock and young cattle on the lighter country in the upper hunter region and on the north west slopes in particular are showing signs of deteriorating condition and still carrying their old winter coats," Mr Llewelyn said.
"If the dry spell continues into spring and summer, one of the biggest challenges for producers is a potential reduction in herd conception rates.
"A range of management options are available to producers, including reducing stock numbers and closely matching nutrition and stock requirements.
"First calf heifers for example may need special attention and a sensible ratio of green feed to dry feed in the diet.
"Unfortunately, lightening breeder numbers hasn’t been possible for many producers given they are still in the middle of calving."
Mr Llewelyn said producers with carryover dry feed only, now needed to consider moving to higher impact feeding options such as whole cottonseed or lupins to steady the condition loss on breeders with calves at foot.
"As little as 1-2kg per head per day could have a big impact on re-breeding rates for a relatively small investment of around $3.50 per head / week," he said.
"Cottonseed is a good option for producers due to its relatively low cost, oil content, fibre level and high digestibility.
"With many north west cotton gins expected to close over the next month, people should act quickly if planning to order cottonseed.
"It should be remembered that cottonseed is designed for inclusion at not more than 30 per cent of the animal’s total diet."
Mr Llewelyn also urges producers to ensure pulpy kidney vaccinations are up to date, especially on fertilised clover country that is susceptible to growth spurts following storms and summer rain.
Source: NSW DPI