Livestock producers in different parts of Australia face very different challenges when managing their herds or flocks, and their environment.
However, they all have one thing in common – at some point drought will hit and they will be faced with the critical question before, during and afterwards of which animals to keep and which to cull so that their business, animals and landscape not only survives the drought, but thrives when it breaks.
The Decide and Thrive project, which is being delivered by the University of New England (UNE), CQUniversity and CSIRO through funding from the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund, is working to assist graziers to answer this question by developing innovative and regionally relevant livestock ranking strategies.
Developing strategies and improving stock ranking tools, as well as assisting farmers to adopt such tools, first requires an understanding of producer needs. Which is why Decide and Thrive has undertaken a series of in-depth interviews with producers and advisors from the Northern Territory, Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria to better understand how producers make decisions about the culling of breeding stock when responding to and recovering from drought.
The study revealed differences between the types of information and support required by producers in different states, age brackets, debt levels, and business type, as well as very different approaches to answering the question of which breeders to keep and which to cull in drought situations.
However, it is clear most producers are receptive to the message to ‘decide early’ and ‘not look back’ – if communicated appropriately for their circumstances.
To assist extension practitioners in their discussions with producers, the Decide and Thrive team has summarised key insights from each region. You can download the insights below.