Industry stakeholders learn about hay and silage in first Top Fodder workshop held in WA in more than 20 years

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Sean Van Der WielenHarvey-Waroona Reporter
Participants in the Top Fodder workshop in Bunbury on Thursday.
Camera IconParticipants in the Top Fodder workshop in Bunbury on Thursday. Credit: Supplied

A program which has not been held in WA in more than two decades made its return as the State’s agriculture sector works to better adjust to a drying climate.

The first of at least two Top Fodder workshops was held at the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development’s Bunbury office over three days last week, with about a dozen industry representatives participating.

Originally developed by Dairy Australia and the NSW Department of Primary Industries, the program has expanded from focusing on dairy farmers to also include beef and sheep producers.

The Western Beef Association has brought the workshops back to WA through its Better Making and Use of Hay and Silage - Mitigating drought and season variability effects for WA livestock industry project.

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Main presenter Neil Griffiths said the program focused on silage but included other conserved forages.

“We’re not hung up on that it has to be silage and most of what we’re talking about is equally applicable to hay,” he said.

“There’s differences in detail but fundamentally what we’re trying to get people to understand is the factors that impact the feed quality, because that’s what affects profitability.”

While higher quality feeds are often smaller in quantity, they often work out better economically than higher quantity, lower-quality stock feed.

Mr Griffiths said it was a challenge to get producers to take a quality over quantity approach.

“If I’m used to thinking I need a hay shed full to get me through summer and then someone comes in and says ‘but if you’re only got half a hay shed full, you’ve actually got more feed quality, megajoules and it’s more profitable to do that’, that’s great in theory,” he said.

“But if I can’t sleep at night because my hay shed’s not full, that’s going to be really tricky to deal with.

“However, it works even for drought feeding, which surprises some people.”

The workshop was supported by funding from the Federal Government’s Extension and Adoption of Drought Resilience Farming Practices Grants Program, which the Western Beef Association received through the Future Drought Fund and SWWA Drought Hub.

Another workshop is scheduled to be held in Albany this week.

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