When you live in a location with variable seasons like Central Queensland, graziers are always looking for ways to improve land condition and productivity while capitalising on any rainfall they receive.
Forage budgeting, which aims to match stocking rates (number of animals in a paddock) to carrying capacity (the amount of available feed in a paddock), is a method which does just that.
There are a variety of methods that can be used when forage budgeting like; using pasture photo standards determining the amount of Kg/Ha of feed there is, using the STAC method working out the amount of grazing days left of feed in a paddock or using your stocking days and average 12 month rainfall to see how much your grass will grow to every 100ml of rain.
Example of pasture photo standards in Alluvial country on the Brigalow Belt
Delivered in partnership with NQ Dry Tropics with funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program, the Regenerative Grazing Tools for Burdekin Soils and Pastures project is supporting graziers to adopt or refine the practice of forage budgeting. This involves mentoring and equipping graziers to implement tools and techniques on their own properties in order to maximise pasture utilisation and improve land condition. Such tools include Rapid Assessment of Soil Health (RASH) tests which enables landholders to conduct in paddock soil testing and monitoring.
Reid Bauman and Graduate Grazing Extension Officer Brad Martin conducting RASH tests in the paddock
As CHRRUP Project Officer, Zach Moore explains, forage budgeting is all about ensuring that pastures aren’t overgrazed, which can significantly affect productivity and land condition over time.
“An overgrazed pasture doesn’t respond as well to rain which hampers production, causes erosion, hardens the soil and leads to a loss of palatable, productive and perennial species for livestock graze on,” he says.
“With forage budgeting, you’re carefully managing desirable grass species, ensuring even grazing across paddocks and matching feed and stocking rates which helps to avoid all of these issues, improve the condition of your land and minimise the effect of drought.”
Third generation grazier and Alpha local, Reid Bauman, has started to experience the benefits of this first-hand after employing forage budgeting on his 18,093ha property, ‘Monklands’.
“Traditionally, we’d always set stocked our paddocks in the same way my father and grandfather had done it for years, but I started doing it in a rotating fashion a few years ago after hearing about the benefits of spelling country,” Reid explains. “As we did more with rotations, I felt I wanted to get better at making decisions about moving stock and grass supply, which is why we decided to go ahead with the forage budgeting service.”
Reid has since moved to basing his stocking rate decision on objective measurement of the amount of feed he has on hand.
“I’ve got my stock book in order so I can determine the demand of the herd at any given time. It’s been very useful to our business and the extra contact and support in the paddock has been spot on.”
Forage budgeting in progress with Landholder and his two sons
If you are interested in trialling forage budgeting on your property or would like further information about the project, please contact CHRRUP on 07 4982 2996 or email firstname.lastname@example.org