Recovering from Drought on Australian Farms
The harsh Australian climate is an all too familiar challenge for farmers across the nation. Perhaps one of the most prominent issues of all are the impacts created by drought. Recovering from drought can be especially difficult as farmers try to manage their resources and maintain the productivity of their property.
Assess Your Feeding Capacity
The most visible impact of a drought is the devastation of a farm’s pastures. Your paddocks need time to recover following a long period of drought. Begin by assessing the state of your grazing pastures and then plan accordingly for their recovery. While pastures recover from the drought, you will need to rely more heavily on supplemental feed to get by. Maintain your stock’s weight by the calculated use of grain feed. It’s likely you will need to keep cattle in a holding paddock to let your pasture recuperate. Choose your supplemental feed based on:
- The condition of your cattle;
- The availability of grazing pastures;
- Staff labour and available equipment; and
- Farming objectives i.e. cattle survival or immediate profitability.
Rebuild Your Heard
Restocking your livestock is a reality that many farmers must face after a period of drought. The decision to take a passive approach and rebuild the farm slowly by raising and breeding surviving cattle rarely pays off profitably. A more involved strategy is often needed to ensure the profitability and productivity of your farm. Farmers should consider using any or a combination of the following tactics:
- Buying pregnancy tested calf cows;
- Trading cattle;
- Take in cattle on agistment; and
- Buying back the heard – including steers, heifers and pregnancy tested in calf cows.
Monitor Heard and Pasture Growth
Regular assessment of your pasture and cattle’s progress is essential during the recovery period. Knowledge of cows’ and pasture growth combined with responsive planning are integral to the long-term profitability and productivity of your farm following a period of hardship. Practiced assessment and appropriate response can optimise pasture and cattle growth, leaving you in good stead to deal with future droughts as well. Planning a schedule for regular assessment and holding yourself accountable is the key to success.
Prepare for Future Drought
The last fundamental aspect of drought recovery is pre-planning for the next dry. Preparation is essential to your farm’s long-term survival and productivity. Some of the most important preparations to make include:
- Review of breeding management – ensure your farm is calving and weening on a schedule which minimises the impact of the next drought;
- Document your current drought recovery process – identify what was effective and what was ineffective;
- Assess your heard structure and make any appropriate changes; and
- Develop a drought and dry weather management plan if you have not already done so.
Farming in Australia is a demanding way of life. Growing the food which feeds Australians is essential and often challenging. The temperamental and harsh climate forces farmers to be resilient and responsive during and following times of hardship. Planning, resourcefulness and responsiveness are all essential to the Australian farmer. For more information on recovering from drought, get in contact with the team at Steel Supplies Charters Towers.