Livestock in dry times event held at Wudinna

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Eyre Peninsula farmers gathered at Wudinna this week to attend the ‘Preparing your livestock enterprise for dry times’ Science to Practice event, to hear about the latest projects being funded by the SA Drought Hub. The key takeaways from the presentations were:

  • Heat stress in sheep – Dr Hannah Griffiths, SA Drought Hub; their research is finding positive trends in improved sheep reproduction when administering vitamins and melatonin prior to joining, they are still crunching the numbers but watch this space.
  • Pasture Optimisation for Drought Solutions – David Peck, South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI); serradella can be a good fit on acid sands on EP and there are ways to include it in the farming system to make life easier. Medics are still the best adapted species for the alkaline soils of EP, and contribute substantially to the following cash crop. The new powdery mildew resistant varieties are working well.
  • Filling Feed Gaps – Tim Prance, T Prance Rural Consulting; Tim presented information on hay vs silage for EP, you can check out his presentation here. My notes were:
    • Air is the enemy of silage!
    • Good silage doesn’t smell
    • Cereals make good silage (high sugar content)
    • Legumes are low sugar
    • Cereal/vetch can make a good mix
    • Silage keeps for 5-20 years (as long as the plastic/protection lasts)
    • As soon as you open it, you need to use it, so bundle in smaller parcels.
    • Need to be set up to feed out
    • Silage is less wastage than hay
    • It needs to be good quality or don’t bother
    • About 500-1000 tonnes is required to make it worthwhile
    • Large squares in a covered pit can work well
    • Silage cut earlier than hay to give a better weed control outcome, but there’s a short window of opportunity.
  • Using online climate tools SAT and Climate Services for Agriculture (CSA) – Dr Penny Schulz, SA Drought Hub; these tools can be helpful in whole farm decision making – check them out.
  • Red Meat and Wool Growth Program and Sheep Connect updates – Dr Jodie Reseigh, PIRSA

The event also included a panel session of local farmers Chris Lymn, Leon Veitch and Ty McKenna, talking about how they best manage their livestock and farming systems, particularly in the face of low feed in dry years.

This event was part of the Australian Government Future Drought Fund‘s Science to Practice Forum, and was delivered by the SA Drought Hub team in partnership with AIR EP.

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