THE district veterinarians of the North Coast Livestock Health and Pest Authority (LHPA) report that cattle on many farms are in poor body condition and are struggling with the season.
In marginal areas unless farmers have had a supplementary feeding plan in place cows have calved in very low body condition and are losing more weight as they feed their calves.
Growing stock is also underperforming.
In all areas cattle have struggled to maintain body condition if farms have had too high a stocking rate.
New farmers to the region often find it hard to believe that cattle can "go hungry" on the coast but in fact malnutrition is very common on the north and mid coast during winter and early spring. The growing season of most pastures is limited to summer and autumn.
This year, very wet conditions followed by a very dry period, has led to some farms having very poor quality and/or quantity of feed.
Although conditions will improve later in the spring this may be too late for some cattle.
If their body condition is poor cattle may be late to fall pregnant again or be more prone to disease.
Growing cattle may never recover from the protein deficiency they have had when young.
When faced with a short term feed shortage cattle farmers may need to introduce supplementary feeding to avoid significant production loss.
On many farms on the North Coast this should be done routinely to prevent a problem.
More options and advice for supplementary feeding of cattle is available at the following websites: dpi.nsw.gov.au/agriculture /livestock/beef and www.lhpa.org.au/_data /assets/pdf_file/0018/430515/NCLHPA-Beef- Cattle-Book.pdf
NSW beef officers, agronomists and district veterinarians can also provide advice. To investigate disease contact your veterinarian.