Food for thought for the winter months

As we reach some of the shortest days of the year, it is time to think about winter management on your property. At this time of year, the weather can be unpredictable and unforgiving, especially for our younger stock.

Now is a good time to plan – here are a few key aspects to think about.

Paddock condition: Think about where your stock are going to lamb, calve, or unpack. Young animals are much more vulnerable and can quickly become hypothermic and hypoglycaemic. Does the paddock have a shelter or trees for protection during poor weather? They are also more likely to injure themselves from misadventure, so choosing a paddock free of steep areas and bodies of water or paddocks prone to flooding is a must.

Body condition scoring: Body condition scoring your stock is essential for monitoring condition and being able to adjust feeding amounts accordingly. It is especially important to do hands on condition scoring for sheep as their wool can hide their condition.

See the links for useful guides to body condition scoring in sheep and cattle:


Nutrition: Grass can be in short supply over the winter months and so you may need to reach for other supplementary feeds for your stock. Concentrates including commercially produced nuts and pellets can help to meet nutritional needs but should not be fed in excess. The main source of energy for ruminants is fibre. Fibre also helps to stimulate production of saliva, which is important for buffering acid and for providing digestive enzymes. When grass supply is limited, it is essential to supplement with a good quality fibre feed source. Silage, baleage and good quality hay can be suitable and palatable sources of fibre. Straws are also high in fibre but can be less palatable due to having lower sugar content.

Mineral supplementation: In the lead up to and after birth, the physiological demand on the body increases significantly, which can lead to issues if the animal is deficient in essential trace minerals. The survivability of young stock can also be negatively affected if the dam is deficient. Common trace minerals that we worry about in sheep/cattle include selenium, cobalt/B12, copper and iodine. For camelids (Alpaca and Llamas) vitamin D is very important. There are multiple ways to administer minerals, which could include commercially made diets, mineral blocks, oral formulations, parasite drenches and injections. Checking the levels of your animals prior to supplementation is recommended, to make sure that the supplementation is actually needed as many of these minerals can cause toxicity at high doses! Have a chat to us if you need help with a trace element plan for your animals.