Owning or operating a farming business involves a lot of planning and considerations into how to maintain profitability. Whether you are new to farming or have been farming for many years it is important to break down the cost of production on your farm to ensure you are operating at the most efficient and effective level possible. (A growing trend toward alternate methods shouldn’t be dismissed as they can be more effective than conventional treatments.)
What factors do you need to take into account?
When working in a livestock system your cost of production is influenced not only by the animals, but also the pastures or paddocks they live in. Things such as parasites (worms, ticks, lice), bacteria and diseases all contribute to the cost of production faced by your farm. It is important to manage these factors in a way which will reduce the impact on the livestock and therefore your cost of production. According to the MLA parasites are the most costly expense in a livestock production.
In a conventional farming system the majority of your production costs include chemical wormers/drenches, vaccinations and fertilisers etc which are used on a periodic basis. Even if you follow the guidelines recommended by these chemical companies do you actually know if it they are working? For instance you can run a worm test a couple of days after drenching; this will give you a indication. Recommendations by chemical wormer/drench companies suggest conducting a drench trial and to count faecal egg counts every 2-3 years. This is a long time to wait to find out if your worming program is working. Aside from the need for regular treatments there is also the issue for small farmers who struggle to find products at a reasonable cost and size. The growing trend is for chemical companies to produce one size of chemical drum/bottle suited to large scale producer and phasing out the smaller sizes typically used by small farmers. This will increase the cost of production if the farmer needs to buy a product larger than necessary or they may go without and struggle to maintain their farm business and livestock productivity. However, there are alternate farming methods and natural treatments which can be adopted by farmers of all scales which are typically more economical.
Inefficiencies of the system
During my time working with sheep and managing livestock properties I found chemical drenches and vaccinations to have a negative impact on the stock. The process of weighing the stock periodically proved to be beneficial in identifying the issues and results within the system.
Animals are placed under a lot of stress with the conventional farming system. Stressed animals and animals with high chemical loads in their body will always perform or grow at a lower level. Some may die. Those animals which reproduce generally have offspring with weakened immune systems and a reduce tolerance to stresses such as worms and diseases. They become harder to manage, requiring more inputs to keep them well and productive. The consecutive generations of livestock then accumulate the load and the overall herd health spirals down. This has been the pattern for quite a few years.
How to find out if your production is being affected
The best way to find out if your production costs are helping and not hindering your productivity is to keep records and run your own trials on your farm. For example, a great way to identify the impact of the drench is to weigh the stock before drenching and again 2-4 weeks after. This will allow you to compare the physical affect of the drench on your stock. Any drop in health or body weight will drive your cost of production up as you will need to add more supplements etc to get the animal back to a healthy weight where it can grow or perform to its best ability.
From my experience managing multiple properties in Queensland and New South Wales I have found the conventional chemical products to impact negatively on the health and growth of livestock. I conducted many trials on these farms (as well as with other independent farmers) using alternate farming methods, such as homeopathic remedies, with fantastic results. It is evident that the generations of animals from the parents in these homeopathic trials are more healthy. As a result I have adopted this natural farming which has increased the health and immunity of the stock all for a fraction of the cost.
Timing of inputs is important
The timing of inputs ensures your inputs are utilised in the most efficient way as possible. An example of this is worming your stock on the ideal phase of the moon; the full moon. This timing is due to the lifecycle of the worms being at their most active within the animal as opposed to laying dormant within the muscle tissues. Worming now will allow the wormer to cover more worms and therefore a better success rate will be obtained.
Years ago while managing a large property Northern New England NSW. We ran trails on the use of selenium supplements. These trails uncovered the fact that time was critical and changed the outcome of what we were doing quite a bit. At the time it was something like $20/head on feeder steers and helped us to reach joining weights quicker with our heifers which for the sake of treating at a different time was quite a bit to help the bottom line.
Alternate wormers or homeopathic wormers provide a natural treatment for worms in livestock without adding toxic chemicals to the animal. You can get good results when you combine a homeopathic wormers with the moon cycle to allow for an extensive cleanse. They are economical, one bottle can treat up to 300 doses and they are safe and easy to use. Buy your alternate Allwormer remedy here.
Another step that is often over looked is grazing management. With the use of effective grazing programs you can help improve the effectiveness of your drench programs and also decreases the number of drenches needed which in the long term; along with helping to improve your pastures is a win win.