Rain seems to be a figment of our imagination lately. 2018 was a very tough year with only 369mm of rain, whilst our annual average rainfall is 673mm. Despite receiving only 55% of our usual rainfall, we have managed to keep our remaining core breeders in relatively good condition, by implementing a full drought feeding program.
After receiving 37mm of rain in December 2018, we hoped for a turnaround… but no, just a temporary break to catch our breath. With no rain at all in February, the grass failed to grow and we started full feeding the livestock once again.
As farmers and primary producers we do focus so intently upon the weather and weather forecast, as a means of farm business management, livestock feeding, land management and cropping. It is sad but true. Drought feeding takes its toll on us all physically, mentally and financially. At what point do we say enough is enough? I wish I knew the answer.
From a national economic stance, it is important that not all farmers sell all of their livestock, as the end result will be far too detrimental to our agricultural industry. Livestock that are sold during this drought, will not be sold for breeding purposes. Livestock numbers across our nation will be drastically reduced, thus affecting the future production of our red meat industry. We need to have breeding stock still alive when this drought breaks and producers will need to re-stock over time, which will take several years.
Drought feeding is very costly, yet a necessity for remaining core breeders on farming properties. Most primary producers are borrowing funds to feed their livestock with no idea when this will end. But tough decisions are made, right or wrong, for each individual farming business and the future of our livestock industry and red meat production.
I have been avoiding the drought feeding routine on our farm lately and feeling a little guilty… leaving it all in the hands of my husband. But today I did go with him and I took the camera. We were checking the cows out the back in the pine country. I was surprised that we have managed to keep up their condition score quite well. These Hereford cows are pregnant, producing a calf to be born in only a few months. Since cattle only produce one calf per year, we felt it was important to ensure their condition was maintained as to produce their progeny without fail.
So today I share with you, a photo taken this morning. The photo depicts a green Kurrajong Tree amongst the pine trees with a small mob of Hereford cattle resting in the shade. There is no grass for feeding livestock, so they rely on us to provide their feed rations and nutritional requirements. But as you can see, the cattle are in good condition to ensure their farm productivity.
Rural Reflection #13…
I like this photo because the cattle calmly watch us encircle them with satisfaction upon their faces. The green Kurrajong Tree is prominent and a saviour when drought feeding. I felt content to finally see something green today… the colour alone lifted my spirits.
The branches of Kurrajong Trees can be lopped for livestock to feed on, in times of drought. The green foliage can be a real saviour to drought-stricken cattle. Then during the better seasons, they are great shade trees and are quite attractive in appearance. Farmers value the importance of Kurrajong Trees on their farms.
So today I am reminded that we need to look beyond the image of drought and find beauty in our breeding animals and our environment. It is this that will keep us focused and capable of battling each new day. Look for beauty in your life today!
Take care, Karen.
“It’s not the load that breaks you down,
it’s the way you carry it.
~ Lena Horne