The Value of Feed in a DroughtWednesday, Apr 4, 2001
Rain has again proved elusive for the central and southern regions of the country. While reasonable
falls have occurred in many areas, in the context of breaking the drought in the badly hit areas it
has done little more than tease the hopes that seed may germinate or growth may occur.
Low cost pastoral farming has this unfortunate downside - farm output is directly related to our lowest
cost feed input - pasture. As unpalatable as it seems even in times of relatively good income,
supplementary feeding with high cost feeds is a very fraught area in periods of drought.
In spite of the persuasions of the feed salesman or even the sourcing of reasonably priced hay it seems
the most profitable reaction to drought is to put aside production and accept the cost of maintenance
of condition on stock that will produce next years production as the priority users of any
Splendid in theory but a difficult in practice because as farmers we are reluctant to give away potential
production now for more profitable production in the future.
It really points out we are on our own as individual managers in times of drought. Even the best of
forecasts for the next month cannot predict rainfall to the level necessary for a manager to plan
for a reliable outcome.
The abundance of sunshine and rainfall that is the basis of our pastoral success will always remain
a fickle input inspite of our wish to control all our inputs. Our management systems must assist us
to see the relationship between the value of todays feed and the value of today's production in
the context of the full seasons profit line.