A new group-learning program for beef and sheep farmers has been well received in the south west, with seven Geographe farming businesses signing up to improve their grazing management and business performance as part of the Grazer Matcher program. Farmers that completed the 12-month program have been reporting great progress and currently there are four groups running, two in the southwest and two in the great southern region.
The program is a joint initiative of the Western Beef Association and South West Catchments Council and is supported by Meat and Livestock Australia under the Profitable Grazing Systems program, and Revitalising Geographe Waterways.
Participating farmers take turns hosting the group on their farm, where Jeisane Accioly, ALIS Consulting, and Dan Parnell, from Agsure Consulting help farmers match their grazing inputs to maximise outputs.
Yalyalup farmer Casper Fouche, of Stoneaxe Pastoral hosted this month’s meeting where he manages 1300 wagyu breeders across 1100 hectares. Casper got involved in Grazing Matcher because he was keen to increase production through better pasture management.
“We’d really like to grow our own hay to save us some money and we are always looking at ways to improve what we do and look after the farm,” said Casper.
Grazing Matcher advocates rotational grazing and applying an understanding of how pasture responds to grazing and weather conditions to maximize production. Farmers have been working on a rotational grazing plan for their property to ensure the right amount of pasture residue after each grazing and supplementing feed where required.
“Revisiting the rotational grazing concept today was really good. It’s been a really big shift in my thinking and the benefits are starting to really sink in. I’m starting to understand that the grass leads the decision on when to shift the animal,” said Casper.
Dan Parnell, who facilities the program with Jeisane Accioly, reminded farmers to be patient and stick with the plan.
“At this time of year it can be 40-50 days before the grass will be back to the ideal 2-3 leaf stage in a paddock since it was last grazed,” said Dan.
“If you let stock back into paddocks before the grass is ready, those paddocks are likely to struggle for the rest of season, and that will come at a cost.”
Farmers also practiced condition scoring, which can provide accurate information on how animals are travelling compared with pasture assessment. Participants also learn about the different livestock requirements, how to interpret feed analysis test and allocate supplement adequately to meet production targets.
The Grazing Matcher project aims to improve productivity and profits for farmers and minimise impacts to the environment by supporting farmers to adopt best practice grazing management across their sheep and beef farms.
For more information contact GeoCatch on 9781 0111 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
PHOTO: Casper Fouche of Stoneaxe Pastoral hosted this month’s Grazing Matcher group