Planning for droughts with an effective strategy

  1. Make sure your feed and water resources are maintained and able to have increased head numbers.
  2. Plan around your financial position
  3. The effect of your plan on future grazing

Should you buy the newest piece of equipment? Probably not! It’s time to knuckle down and return your farm to its glory days with consistency and reducing fluctuations of cash flows.

When all you can think about is drought you tend to do things on a day-to-day basis so that you are able to get by. To keep your all of your livestock fed to limit the impact of their health. Anyone will tell you its no easy feat as it is both physically and mentally draining. With a lot of Australia producers putting in the hard yards to get where they have and for you to lose years of genetics that you have put blood, sweat, and tears into isn’t even an afterthought.

Planning your agribusiness for when the drought breaks

Taking the time to implement a strategy for when you are able to make decisions about increasing your stocking rate or even to start your planting. You should always think ahead and not overcompensate for the very limiting drought as most farmers will be wanting to increase their potential income. It takes years for the ground to recover from the harshness of drought. With preventative measures put in place throughout the drought, you will be able to bounce back a lot quicker than someone who had never de-stocked.

Steps to planning your drought

Ensure your feed and water resources are maintained and able to have increased numbers.

Depending on the different situations that you may be in it’s important to know how long you expect your water and feed to last with the amount of stock you have currently. To limit the impacts of future droughts its vital to steadily increase your numbers and then you can create consistency for your enterprise. Be realistic with yourself and not to depend on carting water in as this is an expensive exercise. Thinking long-term and acting in the short term. When it’s lambing season or calving you will need to allow for increased consumption of feed and water to keep the ewes/cows in quality conditions to rear their offspring as they will require additional energy and protein for survival. Using supplements such as blocks or liquid versions can really livestock through a drought.

Farming for profits

Planning around your financial position

It may be worthwhile seeing your bank manager to work out what sheep management options would best suit your current financial position. You may need to sell some sheep, and help the rest to survive by paying for some feed. Or you may need to look at selling the class of sheep that will return the most money. You need to adapt to your own financial position. Find out more about managing cash flow.

The effect of your plan on future grazing

How much of your current land are you using? (How much has been consumed by grazing through drought). Work out how much you will need per head to sustainably maintain a dry ewe or cow for 2 – 3 years. This is subject to change as environmental conditions heavily weigh in on our agricultural decisions. This can be beneficial as you set a low initial number depending on your pastures bounce back from drought. Plan your pastures growth period with the season as it might grow quicker in summer rather than a damp and frosty winter in regional Australia. Improving your paddocks to hold a higher stocking rate can have a substantial impact on your paddock rotations as new and introduced plant species are able to grow rapidly through summer.

If you are not still receiving the much-needed rain you may need to look at pulling back your numbers to allow for your pasture to recover. After all, it has had the stress of drought since 2016 for roughly most of the eastern parts of Australia.

Time to implement your drought strategy for when it comes around and for returning your enterprise into a sustainable practice.

Share your story on drought and how you have limited its impact with us. @farmsadvice