Drought and supplementary feed calculator app (DASFC)
Author: Geoff Casburn, Ed Clayton and Hutton Oddy (NSW DPI) | Date: 10 Mar 2020
Take home messages
- Livestock needs for energy and protein vary according to their weight and whether they are dry, pregnant, lactating or growing
- Assessing grains, hays and silages for their nutritional value and cost is important to ensure animals are feed adequately and at least cost
- Feeding to supplement pasture and stubbles is complex as it also requires calculations based on the digestibility, height and density of paddock feed
- The DASFC is designed to help producers meet livestock needs and enable them to see the cost
- Example: Maintenance feeding 1000 ewes for 100 days, barley (energy = 12.5MJ/kg DM, $320/t on-farm) or canola hay (energy = 9.5MJ/kg DM, $280/t on-farm)
barley: 63 tonnes in total (630 g/hd/day), total cost = $20,195 ($20.20/hd).
canola hay: 90 tonnes in total (900g/hd/day), total cost = $25,272 ($25.27/hd).
Mobile phones have changed the way we communicate and do business. They are the ‘go to’ tool where many handy apps can solve problems on the spot.
In October 2014, NSW DPI released the first ever drought feed calculator (DFC) app. By January 2018 it had been downloaded 10,000 times and by July of the same year, 18 000 times, corresponding with an increase in severity of drought in eastern Australia.
The drought and supplementary feed calculator is the next generation of the DFC. Its development was driven by user feedback and the need to solve practical problems while also providing a structured approach to educate and improve the user’s ability to solve future problems.
In addition to calculating cost effective drought feeding rations, the app:
- Calculates supplementary feed requirements based on intuitive pasture inputs
- Can save and clone mobs
- Has a ‘My Feeds Database’ alongside the DPI feeds database
- Provides a basic feed inventory to keep track of allocated feeds
- Calculates auger timings and feed amounts for development of mixes and feed-out activities
- Can be tailored to needs by switching functions on and off
- Enables the user to export handy feed reports via text or email.
Figures 1 to 3 demonstrate the general process for assessing animals and pasture and developing a ration with a range of inputs and outputs, starting with livestock, pasture and supplements available. The user is led through the process using simple and intuitive prompts making it easy and quick to use.
The free app can be downloaded from the Apple App Store or Google Play for mobile and tablet devices or visit: www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/dasfc
Figure 1. Dry ewe/wether drought/confinement feeding example.
Figure 2. Lamb production drought/confinement feeding example.
Figure 3. Twin lamb pasture supplementation example.
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