Actions arising from the changing seasons

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And just like that, April was gone too.  It appears the warmth went with it as most clients are reporting a change in season.  What does this change in season mean for you?

For the graziers

It indicates that your growing season is probably done for now, and you are about to enter your rationing period.  This means you have two key areas to consider.

match stocking rate to season carrying capacity1. Matching stocking rate to carrying capacity

How much feed did you grow during your accumulation period – what is your carrying capacity this rationing period? It’s time to start having a good look down into your paddocks to see how much usable feed you’ve grown.  With the previous dry, such a late start and short growing season, you may not have grown as much as you’d hoped.  How many animals do you have on hand now and how many do you intend to have for the rest of 2020? Do you need to decrease numbers, increase numbers, or look at other plans?  Now is the time to develop a plan.  Depending on where you are located, you will need to assume how long you need to ration this feed for.  Remember, good decision-making needs two essential ingredients: meaningful information and a clear goal/outcome.  The meaningful information you need now is how many stock days of feed in your budget and what is your intended stocking rate.  The goal is to get to the end of your rationing period ‘rain ready’ (which means rain will infiltrate and your plants are ready to respond).  You want to do this whilst optimising the performance of your country with the feed you have got.  Do not put this off – start developing a plan now.

2. Supplementation programLearn Ruminant Nutrition Online via the RCS Global Learning Hub

With the changing seasons, it also means a change in supplement requirements.  Firstly, never forget to assess available water quality and quantity.  Without adequate good quality water animals will not perform, regardless of what you supplement with.  Secondly, the cheapest form of nutrition is good quality grass (see point 1 above).  Thirdly, supplements.  During the green season, animals generally need mineral supplementation to optimise growth (e.g. phosphorus).  Now, as the season starts to change it will be a lack of protein that primarily limits production.  So, urea levels in the lick will need to increase (to provide more protein) and mineral content may be reduced.  The exception to this is if you are grazing a forage crop, mineral supplementation may still be required (e.g. phosphorus on oats) to optimise animal performance.  As the dry season progresses energy will become the most limiting nutrient.  The cheapest way to increase energy availability is via feeding a non-protein nitrogen source (e.g. urea) to increase rumen microbe populations to stimulate rumen function.  If this isn’t enough energy in the pastures, then other energy sources (e.g. molasses) will need to be considered.  Supplementation is not a ‘one size fits all’ situation. Your needs will be different to other people and may change from year to year.  Seek good advice to ensure you are feeding the right feed to the right animals at a profit.  Don’t just assume this will happen – plan for it.

Consider changing world markets when making decisionsFor the farmers

It is time to take stock of moisture profile you’ve accumulated (including irrigation quota).   Take into consideration what the markets are doing and what options you have available in your crop rotation.  What does this mean for your intended cropping plan?  Consider your timing, variety and end-use when assessing gross margins.  If you’ve got grain in storage, what is your plan with that?  Consider what is happening with world production and the forward pricing options. 

With such variability in our operating environment, please take a moment to ensure you are actively managing your current reality.  I see the current reality as being large variability. 

I reckon it’s time to adapt an old saying…. ‘if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll get something different this time’!  …. and you may not like what you get.  Put yourself in control and manage what you can.

A final note of caution.  It is that time of year when we always see some really stupid business decisions being made in the name of reducing tax.  The two key areas are spending on taxable expenses or holding off on sales until the next financial year.  If you are consistently profitable then tax is an unavoidable cost of doing business.   Please ensure you are focused on business profit after tax as your measure of success.  Saving $20,000 tax does not make any sense if it means your business profit after tax is $30,000 lower.  Remember the key point from our schools: ‘Maximise profit first, minimise tax second’.

Our experienced advisors are here and happy to help out if you need any support with these decisions.


David McLean

David McLean
Chairman, RCS Australia

Phone: 1800 356 004