Rain equals money when it comes to grazing. Or, is there such a thing as too much rain?
“There is too much rain and we are at that point at present just because we’ve got waterlogged soils,” said Phil Graham of Phil Graham Advisory
“That slows pasture growth a bit but growth’s not the major negative when the country’s this wet. It’s the impact it has on the feet of livestock. They’re more prone to a range of foot problems.”
“With the bulk of ewes in the district just coming up to the point of lambing, it creates some real management issues that are difficult for people to deal with,” he said.
Of the range of foot problems, the most common is foot abscess.
“Foot abscess flares up when the animal is very heavy in weight. It’s often the twin bearing ewes that were in good nick at joining time and that’s why they had twins, and b) when carrying twins, they’re carrying extra fetus, extra placenta and extra fluid.”
“Foot abscess is not an indication you’re a bad manager. Foot abscess is the indication you’ve got heavy sheep, you’ve got very wet ground and that’s the two requirements,” said Phil.
While there are specific steps you can take to minimise risk, none of them are without flaws.
“It’s exceedingly difficult, that’s the issue. When conditions are this wet, there’s very little that you can do.”
“The glib answer is to move them to drier paddocks but when you’re setting your ewes up for lambing you’ve got to spread them out. So if they’ve got to go on a wet paddock, they’ve got to go on a wet paddock. If you bring them into the yard and the yards are wet. If you can run them through a foot bath that helps but often you can cause as many problems trying to get them through to the foot bath as you do, doing nothing.”
“It’s just going to be a difficult six weeks for producers to deal with the issue,” said Phil.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom. The incredible period of moisture means the region’s farmers are likely now raring for a successful start to spring and, in turn, a strong summer.
“We’re going to finish winter with a full profile of moisture which virtually gives us six weeks of spring growth and even if we have a dry start to spring, we’ve got six weeks of spring growth already in the soil.”
“That’s a real positive and the long-term forecast is looking very positive. The odds are now, we’re looking at another very good spring coming up.”
“A good spring most likely gives us about six months’ coverage. That’s about as long as we’re ever going to get. We get a good spring, we’ll have feed over summer. But, if next autumn’s dry, a good spring doesn’t fix a hole for a dry autumn.”
Phil also wanted to encourage those seeking further information to utilise farmingforecaster.com.au, a new, cutting edge resource available to all graziers.