News and Views

Sheep business analysis reveals unique management options

WA sheep producers are being encouraged to think long-term when considering options for managing their sheep enterprise through spring.

An economic analysis of sheep management options commissioned by the WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development has revealed it is profitable to feed stock, even if spring rainfall is tight.

Many sheep producers have been supplementary feeding stock for several months, as a result of below average growing season rainfall.

Department senior development officer Mandy Curnow said with favourable prices for lamb, mutton and wool, producers should consider options to hold on to sheep.

Ms Curnow said sheep were profitable, even in areas affected by below average rainfall, and many growers were prioritising spring feed to maintain stock.

“2017 is a unique season, in that it is still profitable to feed grain to sheep to increase condition in preparation for joining,” she said.

“Preference should be given to medium and high priority stock, such as mature ewes and rising maidens, to ensure there is breeding stock next season.

“Ewes that are likely to be mated in 2018 that are currently condition score 2.3 are the most profitable to feed, with a return on investment of up to 500 per cent on the grain fed to stock.”

The economic analysis showed it was important to plan ahead to ensure feed is on hand when needed, especially while feed prices were competitive.

Ms Curnow encouraged sheep producers to use the department’s annual feed budget calculator, available on its website, to prepare a feed budget for the next six months to determine grain purchasing requirements.

“Ewes and adult dry sheep will require seven to eight megajoules of energy per day if there is no pasture in the paddock, which equates to 600 to 800 grams per head per day, depending on the quality of the grain,” she said.

“Supplementary feeding cereals will require planning to prevent animals from experiencing acidosis, while lupins are ideal stock feed as they can be fed at high rates, infrequently and have little wastage.”

Producers have been urged to discuss their situation with their agent or consultant, as business considerations will vary from property to property.

Source: WA DPIRD