Most of us in southern Australia have had an above-average winter in terms of moisture and, consequently, will have a great start to the Spring.
I hear stories across a lot of country of bogged vehicles of all descriptions, including fire trucks attempting to put out a small grass fire. Those of you situated along the tablelands and slopes will look forward to warmer weather to stimulate growth and get stock performing. Those in the drier regions are starting to warm up, and in areas that did not receive enough rain last summer, you have been utilising the softer winter forage. This feed will start to dry off and disappear as the heat comes on. So, what do we need to pay attention to this Spring?
1. Watch your Grazing Chart and do your feed budget
We all know it is crucial to be prepared to destock when our Grazing Chart, whether a paper version or digital, warns us that our stocking rate is getting close to our Benchmark Carrying Capacity. It is essential to check what is actually happening in the paddock. Then, do a feed budget and, if necessary, make the appropriate adjustment. Namely, reduce stocking rate to match carrying capacity. If you don’t know how to do this effectively or confidently, we’d recommend upskilling with one of the following.
- Either one of our in-person Grazing Clinics,
- or if you’re COVID bound right now, try out our online courses on the RCS Global Learning Hub to develop these fundamental skills.
2. Be ready to capitalise on the good season
It is just as important to be proactive and be ready to increase stock numbers when the season has taken a favourable turn. These are the years where we can consider putting a bit of fat away. Averages, after all, are calculated by taking the good and the bad into account. Unfortunately, too often, we sit back when it is good and watch the feed grow rather than capitalising on the opportunity.
3. Be flexible with your enterprise choices
Rather than aiming to meet a particular specification, it may be wiser to be prepared simply to add kilograms and/or move up a class, unless there is an attractive premium available. Too often, chasing a “spec” locks our thinking into a particular strategy and then reduces the likelihood of us offloading in time. So, be prepared to just add the kilograms.
4. Tidy up your current herd
Livestock markets are pumping along, which has had a dampening effect (pun intended) on the temptation to stock up. With the market where it is, there is an excellent opportunity to consider tidying up the livestock inventory and getting rid of stock that are not performing. We all have stock that pack on the kilos, but at the other end of the scale, there are those that we continue to hold onto because they haven’t reached “spec”, whatever that is. It is critical with both sheep and cattle to clean out the non-performers periodically. We are coming into the ProfitProbe® season, and you will be hearing David Mclean talking about increasing Asset Turnover Ratios. Well, this is one way to lift it.
There are concerns that it is difficult to buy into the market with current stock values. For those of you that haven’t, I would suggest you do a KLR marketing course. This course will give you some structure behind your decisions to buy or not buy, and you won’t need to rely on emotion or gut feel.
5. Look for other opportunities
Is it time to consider selling your grass to someone else? I have had a couple of enquiries lately from people chasing agistment. In every season there are people seeking agistment for a myriad of reasons. RCS clients have a significant advantage in this space with their knowledge of feed budgeting and ability to match stocking rate to carrying capacity. Should feed supply cut out earlier than expected or other options become available, you can move them on. As an enterprise, it can be pretty attractive. It generates cash flow, doesn’t risk your hard-won capital and gives you flexibility in your pasture management.
We hope this has given you some food for thought and that you’ll take this chance to build up your farm buffer. And finally, enjoy this bumper season and the profits it could bring!
Senior Advisor and Facilitator