Managing cattle in dry conditions and drought

Following are some short-term management options which provide financial rewards as well as preventing animal welfare problems during extended dry conditions.

At a glance
  • Regularly reassess carrying capacity
  • Reduce stock numbers to match carrying capacity
  • Wean lactating cows to reduce their nutrient requirements
  • Yard-feed weak cows and cows with calves at foot
  • Sell dry and aged breeders to reduce feed requirements
  • Sell young weaned cattle — if there is a market
  • Only agist sale cattle, not breeders
  • Focus on feeding cattle to make them fit to travel
  • Feed a good diet for 3–4 days before transporting cattle e.g. shipper cubes
  • Humanely destroy animals that are unfit to travel unless they can be fed on-site

During extended dry periods stock may require transporting to ensure their survival and to free-up feed reserves for stock remaining behind. It is important when transporting stock in poor condition that they are fit to load as animal welfare is essential for sustainable and profitable cattle production. It is also a legal responsibility.

Further information