Destock pasture paddocks that have less than 750kg/ha of dry matter: save the soil and save the livestock.
- On-farm water reserves are very low in some southern shires. Check the depth of your dams – farmers are finding that some dams are almost half filled with silt and paddock debris from past storms.
- Pasture in southern areas is well below average.
- Paddocks with less than 750 kilograms per hectare (kg/ha) of dry matter, or 50% groundcover, should be destocked now and livestock moved immediately to confinement feeding areas or heavier soils with better pasture coverage. Prevent animal welfare problems.
- Livestock will only travel short distances from water in summer – supply water in the paddock being grazed, and within 600–800m of paddock feed.
See the seasonal rainfall update newsletter for a full set of recent rain and soil moisture maps and information.
See the Statistical Seasonal Forecast web page for rainfall forecasts.
Livestock and pasture situation
Pasture production in some southern shires has been much lower than average, and the risk of erosion over summer is high.
- Destock any paddock with less than 750kg/ha of dry matter, or less than 50% groundcover, or where large bare patches have developed. Do this as soon as possible.
- Do a livestock water budget now. Allow for silted dams, and a late start to the 2019 season.
- Do a livestock feed budget now. Cover supplementary feeding over summer and into late autumn 2019.
Shires with very low pasture dry matter areas are Gnowangerup, Jerramungup, Kent, Lake Grace and Ravensthorpe.
See the nutrition links below.
Read these first:
- Drought feeding and management of beef cattle a guide for farmers and land managers 2018: a PDF download (Agriculture Victoria)
- Drought feeding and management of sheep 2018: a PDF download (Agriculture Victoria)
- Feed budgeting for ewe flocks in the dry season (Lifetimewool)
- Feeding and managing sheep in dry times: a PDF download
- Confined paddock feeding and feedlotting
- Water quality for livestock
And then these should help feed decisions:
- Grazing stubbles and dry pastures
- Supplementary feeding and feed budgeting of sheep: a full explanation of the options and how to choose feed sources based on energy and cost. Jump to the introduction of feed grains section
- Sheep feed value guide
- Feed cost calculator: calculate the lowest cost from a number of different sheep feeds
- Annual feed budget for sheep enterprises: estimate the supplementary feed requirements of a sheep enterprise for a single year
- CBH outturns and stockfeed: the site provides information on the process for acquiring stockfeed grain
Health and animal welfare
- WA livestock disease outlook: a monthly newsletter for producers
- Is it fit to load? A national guide to selecting animals fit to transport: a PDF download (Meat and Livestock Australia)
- The forecast is for an average or drier summer, except in the far north grainbelt, so a green bridge for disease is less likely.
- Many areas are reporting record breaking high yields, with smaller areas of low yields because of hail, early frost, and low rainfall.
- Grain Industry Association of Western Australia (GIWA) crop reports for 2018: a monthly forecasting service, released by the end of the second week each month, which estimates grain production and yield in Western Australia for the forthcoming harvest season. These reports have detailed delivery zone information for the month.
- Hay statistics and data for the South West Western Australia region (Dairy Australia)
Land and water information
- Reducing wind erosion risk
- Maintaining roaded catchments and dams
- Calculating dam water volume and drawdown by livestock and evaporation
- Community water supply program (Department of Water and Environmental Regulation): contact Tracy Calvert at firstname.lastname@example.org; 9841 0122 (Albany) or 0428 180 240
- Strategic community water supplies (Department of Water and Environmental Regulation): map of strategic community water supplies in the Western Australian grainbelt as of August 2017
Climate situation and outlook
- For January to February 2019, the Statistical Seasonal Forecast is for above 60% chance of exceeding median rainfall for the far northern grainbelt, below 40% chance of exceeding median rainfall for south-eastern and Esperance shires and neutral chance elsewhere. The most probable decile range is decile 4–7 for most of the grainbelt and decile 8–9 for far northern grainbelt and Albany.
- See the rainfall to date tool for your recording station
- See the last week's rainfall:
- Search for the daily rainfall and other climate records for 2018 from your local station: Climate data online - Bureau of Meteorology
- Seasonal climate information: rainfall, soil moisture, frost risk
- Seasonal climate outlook newsletter
Health and finances information
- Western Australia’s rural health, financial and information services support directory
- Rural Financial Counselling Service WA: free call 1800 612 044 for free financial counselling services to assist primary producers
- Regional Men’s Health Initiative: call +61 (0)8 9690 2277
Contact your local DPIRD office to find out who can help you on any of the topics above. During the Christmas and New Year period, phones may be diverted, but you will be put in contact with someone who can help with your questions.