Many producers in areas that have received below average rainfall are supplementary feeding sheep, as the animals’ energy intake from pastures is limited and the amount of food on offer continues to decline.
The WA Department of Agriculture and Food is urging livestock producers to take action by monitoring the condition score of sheep.
Department veterinary officer Danny Roberts said assessing the muscle and fat covering a sheep’s backbone provides a good estimation of nutritional wellbeing.
Dr Roberts said it was important to ensure individual sheep within the flock were above condition score 2.
“There will be animals that vary within the flock so it is best to aim for an average condition score of 2.5 to ensure the ewes remain productive at mating,” Dr Roberts said.
Dr Roberts said producers should be continually reviewing their feed budget as the season progressed to determine the amount of supplementary feeding required.
“It is more cost effective to maintain the condition score of sheep at 2.5 than to lose it and try to regain it again before the next summer,” he said.
“Producers should also consider future stocking rates and opportunities to capitalise on solid market conditions, should dry conditions prevail.
The video How to condition score sheep is available for free for searching for the title on the department’s website, where the online Supplementary feeding calculator for pregnant and lactating ewes can also be found.
The website now also features a Season 2017 webpage, which harnesses a range of livestock, agronomic and financial and wellbeing information, which is located by clicking HERE.
In other news, the Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia will become part of the new Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development from 1 July.
This new department will bring agriculture together with the staff and functions of the departments of Fisheries and Regional Development and nine Regional Development Commissions.
Leading the amalgamated department will be Ralph Addis, director general of the Department of Regional Development.