At the December meeting of the Support Group, at Mark and Narelle McDonald's Tallangatta Focus Farm, agreed this was shaping up as a drier late spring and summer than in recent years, therefore feeding plans needed to be reviewed.
In many cases, summer feeding focuses on the milkers and often young stock can be a secondary consideration. Recent years have seen young stock grazing green pasture from summer rains. This year it is likely higher levels of supplement will need to be fed, adding to the overall cost.
Since the start of the Focus Farm, the Support Group has been keen for the McDonalds to maintain good feeding rates to their young stock. The herd is expanding and over summer there will be 310 replacements to feed. A major focus of the December meeting was a review of the feed requirements of each group of replacements and an assessment of whether costs could be reduced any further, without impacting on the condition and size of these replacements. The following table indicates the weight of each group and the feed requirement to gain 0.7 - 1.0 kg of live weight per day.
80 spring 2012|
calves (100 – 150 kg)
2.5 kg GM|
2.5 kg silage
80 autumn 2012|
calves (250 kg)
2.5 kg GM|
5.0 kg silage
|60 x 15-16 mth olds being joined||91 MJ||6.0 kg silage||$6.30||$1,620|
90 x 2yo autumn|
9 – 10 kg silage|
The Support Group and the McDonalds strongly agreed , in dry summer conditions all calves below the age of 12 months needed to keep getting a grain mix (70 per cent wheat/30 per cent canola) to achieve growth targets. A diet of solely silage would not be good enough for this group - they cannot eat enough silage to achieve the required weight gain.
The 15 - 20 month old heifers have been well fed as calves and now have the ability to eat enough silage for both maintenance and growth. These heifers will be used initially to clean up late spring pasture – but not pushed too hard before the introduction of silage.
The average weekly cost of feeding will be $9.36 per head per week (including grain mix and home grown silage), or 1.7 cents per MJ. This sounds expensive but remember that this is achieving growth and maintenance, not just maintenance through the toughest time of the year, on complete supplement. The total cost will be $12,437 per month just to feed replacements. Let's hope that the summer is not too long and an early break takes the pressure off.
Upcoming field day - focusing on pastures and forage
The 'What? Where? How? What cost? Why?' of irrigated and dry land areas on the McDonald Focus Farm, including a review of the dry land lucerne sown in spring 2012.
This will be the subject of a field day to be held at the Focus Farm on Thursday February 14 2013 commencing at 11.00 am (cuppa available from 10.30) - 1.30 pm, lunch provided.
The discussion will be led by Darren McCormick, Agronomist with Landmark Normac, Focus Farm Facilitator John Mulvany and Focus Farmers Mark and Narelle McDonald. Please contact John Mulvany, telephone 0409 935 578 to confirm your attendance and secure a lunch.