Maintaining animal health in trying weather conditions

Everyday we read the papers, drought in the USA, floods in the tropics, minimal rainfall in parts of Australia and well I don’t think I have ever met a farmer who has no interest in the weather. I know we do and I never considered really what climatic conditions do until I married a farmer in the Upper South East of South Australia. I don’t know how many times I had to ask why the yearly average rainfall was important and what was ours… 17 inches. Rain is still talked about in inches despite Australia being metric.

My husband is second generation farmer who loves the land, loves the animals and well it is his passion and hobby. He is not happy unless he is fixing something, doing something, mending fences, planting trees, painting equipment and cleaning up around stock yards, sheds and the house. His pride in his ‘work’ is only matched by his knowledge of the property we own 5000 acres or 2023.428 hectares of land. He plants crop and we have Angus Cattle and Dorper sheep, which currently I am bottle feeding twin brothers whose mother died and they sit or sleep touching each other. I can not guarantee they will not be sold for meat but the level of comfort and care they receive is a testament to my husbands caring for his animals. They now live in my 1 acre or .404 hectare vegetable garden, but the concern is that we are going into a dry period. Ben is facing the camera.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I won’t talk about climate change as we have over 60 years of rainfall records kept by his father and now him and the average hasn’t changed and some years it’s less or more, we are not seeing what the ‘experts’ are saying so I will leave this topic alone. What we are seeing and hearing is the cry of animals looking for food so we are buying hay to feed them. We do not feed lot – that is place them in a confined area and feed them grain, this is not part of our practice and takes away our grass-fed status. Animals that eat from pastures are getting a more balanced and nutritious diet thus making the meat of the cattle tender and tastier. If you think about it, natural pastures in our part of the world include veldt grass, rye grass, clover and planted Lucerne whereas a feedlot or grain fed cattle get barley or wheat or a mixture of grain to sustain their diet. This also goes for lambs.

How do we looking at our dry pastures keep feeding the animals to maintain a healthy weight range and balance to sustain the herd? Well we purchase hay from other farms and every second day he loads hay and takes it to the animals in the different areas of our property they reside. We are waiting for rain and a break in the season so that the native vegetation begins to grow which will help the land rejuvenate and animals settle back to not looking for the Ute and trailer piled high with hay

 

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