Destock pasture paddocks that have less than 750kg/ha of dry matter: save the soil and save the livestock
- Ravensthorpe community livestock water supplies have been checked by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation – see the attached Ravensthorpe livestock water supplies update for details.
- 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.
- Poor groundcover in some southern areas means that wind erosion risk is high.
- 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 and erosion 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.
- Seek professional advice about the costs and benefits of feeding, agisting or selling livestock if feed or water is limiting.
- Seasonal rainfall update newsletter for a full set of recent and forecast information
- Statistical seasonal forecast web page for rainfall forecasts
- Livestock News AgMemo articles December to February
- Grains News AgMemo articles December to February
- FarmHub: connects Australian farmers with services and support during tough times, such as drought
- National drought map: provides access to spatial data from Australian government agencies
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
- Agisting 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)
- Many areas have reported heavy stubble loads, which may cause problems during seeding. Check your stubble management options.
- 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 email@example.com; 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
The Bureau of Meteorology’s autumn seasonal rainfall outlook indicates neutral chances of exceeding median rainfall for March to May 2019. This suggests some improvement in rainfall prospects across southern WA in coming weeks. However, most international models are for below-normal rainfall being more likely.
Seasonal temperatures are likely to be warmer than normal over the lower west and south-west, with stronger chances of above-normal temperatures further inland.
- 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.