News & Media

Plans required to manage sheep feed availability

Released on

Released on:
Thursday, 7. September 2023 - 11:45

Sheep producers impacted by variable seasonal conditions have been encouraged to have a plan and consider options to manage flock condition and capture market opportunities over coming months.

A range of information and decision making tools are available on the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development’s (DPIRD) Season 2023 webpages.

DPIRD development officer Katherine Davies said it was important for producers to regularly condition score sheep to provide an estimation of the nutritional wellbeing of the flock.

“The 2023 season has been patchy across the agricultural region, with highly variable crop and pasture production,” she said.

“A target condition score of 3 will help ensure the flock is in good shape and is particularly important for lactating ewes with lambs at foot.

“Maintaining sheep in good condition ensures producers can capitalise when market opportunities present.”

Ms Davies also suggested producers monitor feed on offer (FOO) to know when best to act.

“FOO levels of more than 1000 kilograms per hectare are recommended to carry a flock, otherwise supplementary feeding and other strategies need to be considered,” she said.

The Season 2023 webpages include several feed budgeting tools and calculators, as well as sheep condition scoring to help growers make informed decisions.

Ms Davies said with below average rainfall forecast, it was important for producers to have plans to reduce sheep numbers or hold sufficient supplementary feed to take advantage of weather and market opportunities.

“It is useful to have key decision points during the season to determine how to best manage stocking rates and feed demand,” she said.

“This includes weaning lambs 12 weeks after lambing starts or as soon as eight weeks in areas with a poor season, which allows time for ewes to regain condition before the next mating.

“Wean lambs onto paddocks with sufficient energy for them to grow at a rate of 50 grams per day, while ensuring a 12 per cent crude protein content to aid survival.

“Other options to manage feed requirements and ground cover could also include confinement feeding and agistment.

“Producers need to consider future stocking rates and supplementary feed in light of market opportunities, if dry conditions prevail and FOO remains tight.”

For more information and seasonal advice visit the Season 2023 webpages.

Hands on a sheep.
DPIRD reminds sheep producers to condition score their flock and have backup plans for feed as the season continues.

Media contacts:

Megan Broad/Jodie Thomson, media liaison                        

+61 (0)8 9368 3937