WARWICK TAFE rural teacher Duncan McMaster has advised property owners planning a well-deserved break over the Christmas holidays to schedule in some preparation time, to prevent emergency return trips back to the farm.
Mr McMaster has acknowledged it's been a rough year for the nation's farmers, and has prepared a series of tips designed to prevent the preventable and help property owners rest easy during their time away, with livestock being the main focus.
"Animals don't have holidays so you've an ongoing commitment to maintain their health and wellbeing, even when you're away - it just takes a little bit of planning," Mr McMaster said.
Tips for looking after the farm, when you're afar
- Water is the most important consideration for your animals. A cow can drink up to 40 litres a day in summer so water quantity and quality are priorities. Be sure you have adequate storage, eg tanks or dams, as Murphy's law will ensure your pump breaks down the day you want to leave. Ask a neighbour to check the water every couple of days.
- Ensure your animals have access to good quality feed for the period you are away. Again, ask a neighbour to help out here or leave adequate feed in the way of large hay bales, off the ground in a feeder. Horses and cattle require between 2% and 3% of their body weight a day so a 500kg cow should get about 10kg a day of good quality hay. It is not necessary to feed lucerne hay, roughage is important.
- If you have working dogs, then be sure you have them attended to each day. They are vital to a rural business and should be treated accordingly.
- Shelter is essential in the hot summer months - try not to leave animals in yards unless they have good shade. Heavy rain can make yards very boggy so paddock your animals during this period.
- Summer is a time of high fire danger. Fire breaks can certainly help prevent the spread of fire to your property and improvements. Clean up around sheds and buildings before you leave. Storms can start fires and bring down trees so be aware and prepare.
For more information on Warwick TAFE agriculture courses, including the hands-on jackaroo-jillaroo course, phone 4660 4600.