District vet’s view on managing livestock during this drought

Times are tough….Make a decision

Local Land Services have received a dramatic increase in drought related enquiries and reports of animal welfare concerns in the last couple of weeks. There is a high probability we have a number of extremely tough months ahead of us. Are you and your stock ready?

This article is provided by the local District Veterinarian, Helen Schaefer and may help some livestock owners to make hard decisions, especially those with calving cows or lambing ewes. Allowing your stock to lose condition to the point where their welfare is compromised is unacceptable.

‘Wait and see’ is no longer an option – you need to be making decisions now.


  • Feed enough of the right feed
  • Early lactating animals require significantly more feed than dry animals. They    can’t eat enough dry paddock feed or hay to meet their requirements – they need           grain    or pellets as well. The same is true for heavily pregnant
  • DO NOT give hungry stock free access to grain or pellets. Introduce pellets or grain gradually.
  • Dry stock can do well on good quality dry paddock feed or good quality hay alone.
  • Consider availability, affordability of feed and if you can physically manage the feeding.

To give you an idea of how much is enough, below is a rough guideline (based on “Managing Drought” & “Drought Calculator App” DPI) of how many kgs/head/day stock require using the example of a mix of 80% DDG pellets + 20% hay:

.                                              DDG + hay             hay only alternative
 Cows, lactating (500kg)    8.0kg + 2.0kg           ( – )
 Young cattle (250kg)         3.0kg + 0.5kg           (or 5.0kg hay)
 Adult Dry cattle (450kg)     4.0kg + 1.0kg           (or 7.0kg hay)

 Ewes & lambs                   1.2kg + 0.3 kg           ( – )
 25kg weaner lambs           0.50kg + 0.10kg       (or 1.0 kg hay)
 Dry ewes/wethers              0.50kg + 0.05kg       (or 1.0 kg hay)

  • Stock in good condition continue to get good prices.
  • Start with selling “passengers” in a breeding enterprise, then the older breeders. Sell while you have saleable stock. Use the money to pay for feed for the stock you keep, or keep the money aside to restock later


  • Consider early weaning of calves (eg. >100kg) and lambs (>10kg)
  • Consider stock water availability
  • You must make a decision that suits you and your situation. What is right for your neighbour may not be right for you.

More information:  consult a private nutritionist, contact LLS,  online – DPI DroughtHub

LLS will be holding drought information sessions in Moruya, Cobargo, Bega and Towamba in the first week of September. See the next web post on this FSCLA’s site for details

District Veterinarian, Helen Schaefer, South East LLS, Bega –        helen.schaefer@lls.nsw.gov.au,  0417 296 739