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Livestock containment areas, more than a drought measure

Paddock feed is becoming limited in many areas of the Barossa due to a drier than average summer and recent hot weather, leaving livestock producers looking for alternative options for feeding their stock.

The Barossa Improved Grazing Group (BIGG) have created a video guide with livestock consultant Hamish Dickson to help producers design and manage an effective containment lot.

Mr Dickson said in his experience with clients, containment lots are used more often than producers initially expect.

“Quite often containment areas are put in with the idea of being to manage the drought years but there’s a lot of handy benefits of having these facilities on farm,” he said.

BIGG technical facilitator and Keyneton producer Georgie Keynes agrees.

“On our farm we developed a containment area with a view to using it maybe once every five years in a drought situation,” she said.

“In the past 15 years since we’ve had it, we’ve used it almost every single year.”

Mr Dickson advises the key to success is to make decisions early.

“It is important to move livestock into a containment area before you lose body condition, which will happen quickly if ewes or cows are in mid to late pregnancy,” he said.

Ms Keynes says there are farm-wide benefits to containment lots.

“By resting the main paddocks, containment lots allow the pasture to recover from summer grazing and allows the winter pasture to get ahead after autumn rains,” she said.

Along with managing stock in dry conditions, containment lots can be used to quarantine new animals, weaning, or holding stock prior to other handling tasks.

“A well-planned containment lot can make it easy to manage and feed stock, so our webinar provides practical tips for site selection and size, feeding and watering, using self-feeders or feed troughs, working out livestock nutrition requirements and formulating a ration,” Ms Keynes said.

“Every participant reported that the webinar improved their confidence in managing containment lots,” she said.

The video can be found online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bbwdb8_WUj0

BIGG is supported by the South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program and the NRM Levies.

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