A lot of farms have strong potential for capital investment and upgrade, where large areas are not being fully utilised. Capital upgrades will focus on four key areas:
Water & Irrigation System
A reticulated stock water system allows for greater control of livestock management across large areas. Studies indicate that livestock has an approximately 7% higher production rate when accessing water from troughs instead of dams. When provided with easy access to high quality water, animals will drink more, eat more and ultimately, gain weight more quickly.
On properties designated as “fattening” AFF may introduce irrigation systems. On these properties careful focus will be to ensure the water costs, infrastructure costs and labour costs do not increase the cost of production.
Many farms with inadequate fencing exhibit signs of patch grazing in paddocks where only certain sections of grass have been grazed. This is a clear signal that utilisation can be improved. The issue of uneven grazing often has to be dealt with firstly, before stocking rates are increased. Running more stock will increase pasture utilisation, but any areas that are already overgrazed will be impacted most heavily.
The installation of new fencing, is a very cost effective solution. Smaller paddocks are generally grazed more evenly than large paddocks, with very large paddocks well suited to subdivision. Once adequate fencing is in place, AFF will then implement cell grazing techniques to increase productivity of the properties. While cell graz- ing is more labour intensive it ensures paddocks are grazed evenly, allows for an adequate rest between grazing and maximises the carrying capacity of a property.
Shelter belts are a mixture of trees for shade and also some fodder shrubs, which animals utilise as a supplementary feed – saltbush is good example of this in sheep farming. Shelter belts have been used to protect stock from harsh weather conditions for hundreds of years.
Through reducing the level of exposure of both stock and pastures to harsh conditions, shelter belts can meaningfully improve the productivity levels of a livestock enterprise. A reduction in mortality of newly born lambs is one of the most well recognised roles of shelter belts. Trials conducted in southeast Australia indicate that losses of newborn lambs can be reduced by 50%.
AFF in conjunction with local, independent agronomists spends a large amount of time getting the pastures right for each property. This involves conducting numerous soil tests together with advice from independent agronomists combined with the experience of our management team.
The pasture used depends upon the location of the property and the soil types on each property. However, generally, the aim is to establish perennials to minimize ongoing capital expenditure with further sowing each year. This approach not only reduces ongoing overheads, it also improves soil health and increases stocking rates. At the same time the right seed mix can also reduce the need for expensive fertilizer, lime and gypsum supplements.