Drought Planning, what is it?

The current pattern of lower than average rainfall is predicted to continue.As livestock producers we have two options we can ignore the predictions and hope that we have the financial resources, available feed and water to sustain our livestock or we can plan for what could eventuate if the drought continues. Hope for the best but plan for the worst case scenario.

Planning involves assessing your financial capacity to carry your livestock, identifying if you will have access to water and feed. Identifying where and what feed you will be able to access and at what cost. Consider  pre-ordering feed to lock in a price. Basically do a SWOT analysis to identify strengths, weaknesses and opportunities and threats to your business that may be caused by the drought.

Drought planning also involves assessing things like cutting back on mating in an effort to maintain stock in a good condition if you cannot access higher protein feed. Unlike other livestock industries that have access to abattoirs and pet meat markets to reduce numbers we may have to consider euthanasing older stock that cannot be maintained through drought. You have to consider that there may not be buyers in the market to buy, for the same reasons that you need to destock.

Failure to plan to deal with drought can have very negative impacts on the mental health of farmers, largely because they are not prepared to make the necessary decisions when they are necessary.

A drought plan means that you can identify what the tipping point is for when you enact your plan. It also means that you have identified what actions need to be taken before you have to take them. This removes some of the stress that comes with having to make decisions without proper consideration of the consequences to your business and your physical and mental well being.

Things to Consider;

  • Your financial capacity
  • What assistance and support is available
  • Availability of fodder and water
  • Securing fodder and water
  • Managing pasture through drought
  • Securing additional finance if required
  • Management of livestock through drought to minimise stress on animals.
  • Determine how you are going to destock if required. 

Putting a drought plan in place is much the same as having a fire plan in place. If the worst occurs you have a plan and know what to do. You are less likely to panic, stress and make the wrong decisions

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