Northern rangelands beef producers get on-station lessons

[February 2016] 

Nutrition EDGE on-ground workshops were held at Larrawa station (Halls Creek), Liveringa station (Derby) and Ethel Creek station (Newman) in November 2015.

Larrawa workshop participants.The workshops were organised by the Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia (DAFWA) and Rangelands NRM to give producers a comprehensive look at ruminant nutrition and how it can be applied on-property. Funding was provided by the Australian Government's National Landcare Programme.

Désirée Jackson, an experienced Nutrition EDGE presenter, was contracted to deliver the workshops.

Previously, in March-April 2015, all participants attended Nutrition EDGE workshops. Due to the large amount of information exchange at the earlier workshops, participants thought it would be useful to reinforce key lessons again; but do it on-station where more time could be spent looking at cattle, lick, hay, grass and energy supplements.

Larrawa

At the Larrawa workshop participants brought along samples of lick, pellets and calf meal currently been fed. Désirée picked through each sample showing its constituents, such as: urea, salt, Gran-AM, Kynofos, sorghum, corn and explaining their nutrition composition.

In the afternoon, a plant ID session was completed along Christmas Creek frontage area. Plants were examined and discussion centred on: phase of growth, leaf:stem ratio and % greenness —key drivers of pasture quality.

Liveringa

At Liveringa station, the focus was on cattle. Desiree spoke about how breeder body condition is the main driver of breeder herd performance. Examples of cows with a body condition score of two, three or four were looked at. The take home message was cows with a body condition score of three or over at the time of calving will have a much greater chance of conceiving early enough to maintain a 365-day calving cycle.

Liveringa also has a feedlot (Inkata) and produce hay/silage. Liveringa was feeding recently weaned calves corn silage.  These calves were weighed regularly and once they reached 150-kg they were transferred from the feedlot into a paddock close to the homestead.

Ethel Creek

All participants at the Ethel Creek workshop sent away faecal samples for near infrared reflectance spectroscopy (NIRS) testing prior to the workshop. NIRS results showed that in some herds the primary limiting nutrient was Phosphorus (P).  A lactating 400kg mature cow with a calf requires 19g P/day for maintenance. Using NIRS results we calculated the cow was receiving 10g P/day from available native pasture. To compensate for the shortfall, a loose lick supplement that could provide at least 9g P/day was formulated. 

An analysis was also completed comparing loose wet season P supplement quotes from various lick companies. This analysis provided producers with the skills to compare price quotes based P, but also to take into account any other differences in lick formulations.

Producers were appreciative that Rangelands NRM and DAFWA worked together to bring such a relevant series of workshops to the Northern Rangelands.

This article was written by DAFWA Development Officer, Matthew Fletcher and was originally published on the Future Beef website.  

Image: Larrawa workshop participants.