The latest news and ag extension advice

Welcome to the latest Ag Chat newsletter which offers advice, seasonal updates and informs landholders of what is happening at Western LLS in all areas of agriculture. First, let's meet the team:
  • Gemma Turnbull — Team Leader based in Bourke
  • Tanisha Shields — Senior Land Services Officer based in Balranald
  • Claudia Bryant — Senior Field Officer based in Broken Hill.

Ag extension news and updates 

Register now for our next informative webinar 

Landholders have a great opportunity to hear from Dick Richardson of Grazing Naturally when he presents our Introduction to planning growing seasons in Western NSW webinar. 

***Click here to register*** — Monday 29 June at 4:30pm AEST 

Dick Richardson is well known to many landholders in the Western region, having presented at various workshops and field days over the years. The webinar will go through an introduction to grazing management in Western NSW and cover off on rotational grazing and how to plan your growing season. 

Once registered, participants will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. For more information contact Tanisha (details at the end of the newsletter). 

Clostridial vaccination of sheep in the Western Division — necessary or not?

Vaccinations form an important part of a livestock health plan. They can be used to help prevent costly losses of livestock or reductions in productivity associated with disease.  As you may have seen in the recent animal health update by our vets, cheesy gland is the highest cause of carcass trim for livestock from Western NSW sent to abattoirs. This costs the meat industry due to condemnations and carcass trimming. 

The most commonly used vaccines are the clostridial vaccines, which come as either 3-in-1 (pulpy kidney, tetanus, cheesy gland), 5-in-1 (pulpy kidney, tetanus, black disease, blackleg, malignant oedema) or 6-in-1 (clostridial diseases and cheesy gland). In Western NSW, it is recommended to incorporate a cheesy gland vaccine into your animal health program due to the large impact of this disease at abattoirs. 

Initially, two doses are required to provide protection, and then an annual booster is necessary to maintain it. Some guidelines for the timing of vaccinations are:
  • vaccinate ewes 2–6 weeks before lambing to protect young lambs 
  • vaccinate at marking and give a booster 4–8 weeks later (weaning). The first dose of vaccine primes the immune system, but only provides a small amount of short-term protection. The second dose of the vaccine allows the immune system to be capable of providing protection against the disease
  • give ewes an annual booster timed before high-risk periods, such as grain feeding in drought or grazing high-quality fodder crops. 
For more information on vaccination programs contact your local district veterinarian

Measuring your business performance — profit and loss and cash flow

The business metrics identified through the financial benchmarking process are key indicators of the performance of a business. These metrics can be used to identify areas for improvement and to set performance goals. In each edition of the Ag Chat newsletter, we will briefly explain some key business metrics. Profit and loss and cash flow statements are examples of useful indicators of business performance. 
  • Click here to read a newly developed resource on profit and loss and cash flow.
  • Click here to read a key finance metrics summary sheet produced for the Land Services Program.
For landholders interested in learning more, the Land Services Program will provide you with one to one support to benchmark your business. If you are interested in the Land Services Program contact Tanisha. 

New trial site investigating crop sequencing 

This year, for the fifth consecutive year, we are working with Mallee Sustainable Farming to conduct a cropping trial reflective of the priorities of cropping producers in Western NSW. This year's trial is looking to investigate the role that break crops play in a longer-term rotation, and the subsequent crop production responses. This trial will run for three years, looking at a rotation of various break crop options, followed by wheat and barley. 

The break crop options being investigated are: 
  • medic pasture
  • lentil pulse crop
  • vetch hay
  • fallow
  • oaten hay
  • vetch brown manure. 
In the wheat and barley plots, rates of nitrogen from 10 kg N to 70 kg N are being used to investigate crop sequence and N fertiliser interactions. This will highlight the impacts on productivity, profitability as well as nitrogen balances, and soil carbon. Stay tuned for further updates on this trial. 

Attention cropping producers 

We have got a great opportunity for cropping producers in the Balranald and wider region to partake in a series of seven demonstration days aimed at all stages of the crop production cycle. This program will allow producers to work together towards their production goals. For more on this opportunity, the trial site or cropping in general, contact Tanisha. 

Withholding periods on farm chemicals

The withholding period (WHP) is the length of time that must pass between the last application of an agricultural chemical and the sale of produce from the crop or livestock. These are mandatory for the domestic market and are on the label of all registered products. 

This is like an export slaughter interval, which is the period that must pass between chemical application to livestock and their slaughter for export. 

Another term is the export grazing interval which is the minimum time interval between application of a chemical to a crop or pasture that is continually grazed and slaughter of the livestock grazing the fodder source. 

This is a reminder to read the label of all chemicals, keep accurate records and ensure you declare any WHP details on your National Vendor Declaration when selling livestock. You should also ask for a commodity vendor declaration when purchasing supplementary feed.

Looking at pastures — Black Bluebush (Maireana pyramidata)

Black Bluebush is a long lived, drought-resistant species. It is a blue-grey perennial shrub which grows mostly on calcareous soils of light texture, with deep-wetting profiles and low surface salinity. It is a deep-rooted species. 
Flowering occurs mainly in spring, particularly following autumn and winter rains. Male and female flowers are often found on separate plants. Seeds will germinate under a wide range of conditions, with the optimum being 20 to 23 degrees and following 50 mm of rain over two days. Successful establishment requires summer rainfall. 
Black bluebush is relatively unpalatable to stock, however sheep will graze it. It has been reported that sheep will graze this to “keep themselves alive”. It can tolerate heavy grazing but contains high levels of oxalates which can be toxic to livestock. 
It is a valuable species for protecting the soil surface against wind erosion and providing cover for important perennial and annual grass species to grow.

Before we sign off...

Increasing Profit in Livestock webinar — recording now available 

We recently produced an increasing profit in livestock webinar which featured Grahame Rees from KLR Marketing. A recording of the webinar is now available by clicking here

The webinar provided an overview of the simple, powerful and proven livestock sell/buy strategies that have been developed by KLR Marketing to maximise cash flow while minimising the market risk. 

Until next time...

Thanks for reading our Ag Chat newsletter. We encourage you to save the contact details for Gemma, Tanisha and Claudia and feel comfortable to contact them if you have any questions about your enterprise from an agricultural perspective.
  • Gemma — (02) 6870 8632 and
  • Tanisha — 0447 642 131 and
  • Claudia — 0448 796 109 and
If there are any topics you want covered or questions answered in next month's Ag Chat, simply hit reply or contact one of the team.
We welcome your feedback about this newsletter.  Please feel free to pass it on to anyone you think may be interested. 
If you would like to be added to our mailing list, subscribe here.

Western Local Land Services 
Freecall: 1300 795 299

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