Continuing rain a mixed blessing for Northern Tablelands farmers, LLS report

File image.
File image.

Local farmers would not complain about recent rain, but the wet conditions could present particular challenges in the Northern Tablelands and North West.

Recent downpours could delay shearing around the region, while an abundance of short green grass without adequate dry roughage, matured in a longer growing season, could pose a particular risk to stock health.

Local land services Steve Eastwood described recent rain is a mixed blessing and said though local producers would be unwilling to complain about the wet conditions that could be serious ramifications and even stock death if producers did not take conditions into account.

“Given we have effectively had no springs for the last three years, I think it would be very brave to complain about the amount of rain we have had,” Steve said.

“The problem is though that this time of year we normally have those dry winters with traditionally warmer months.”

Shearing, Steve said, was one farm job that is usually well underway at this time of year. But the recent conditions, though a welcome drought relief, may delay shearing around the region.

“It provides a particular challenge for farmers to keep them sheltered, and to keep the seed up to them, particularly when you get a combination of the wet, and the wind, in cold temperatures,” Steve said.

“The problem with green grass is that it is not well-balanced.

“You end up with mineral deficiencies and, in particular, calcium and magnesium (deficiencies).”

Local Land Services in the Northern Tablelands and North West recently released a warning for local farmers against grass tetany. Steve explained the condition was caused by hyper magnesia, an extreme magnesium deficiency, particularly in heavily pregnant or lactating cows.

File image.

File image.

“That occurs when all they do is just chase the green pick. But it's really not good for them, particularly when their metabolic demands are really much higher. They need to mobilise both calcium and magnesium to produce milk,” Steve explained.

He urged farmers to look out for changes in stock behaviour and to carefully manage cows on short green grass.

“With grass tetany, you often just see dead cattle. It is just that some, but it can be dead within 24 hours,” he said.

“(But) Most farmers in the Northern Tablelands, particularly with sheep already supplementary feed and they have to keep going with that. And not get carried away with the fact that there is actually grass around.”

Steve said farmers should consider keeping up supplementary feed, while cattle producers should be providing additional feed or additional energy in particular for the cows until the grass matures.

“Obviously the colder parts of the long table and is going to be slower with the growing season and the further west you get, out towards Bundarra, it is a couple of degrees warmer, and the growth is going to be quicker, and the grass is going to be maturing much more.

“It really does depend on where you are in your individual circumstances,” he said.

“I would really encourage anyone who wants advice to phone their closest LLS office and have a chat.”

This story Continuing rain a mixed blessing for Northern Tablelands farmers, LLS report first appeared on The Armidale Express.