Sheep feed kicks into overdrive at Kroehns

Early season start kicks sheep feed into overdrive at Waikerie

Cropping
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AFTER two years of heart-breaking drought, Waikerie cropper and sheep breeder Brenton Kroehn said this year's stellar start was certainly needed.

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Brenton Kroehn in a barley/vetch feed paddock last week.

Brenton Kroehn in a barley/vetch feed paddock last week.

AFTER two years of heart-breaking drought, Waikerie cropper and sheep breeder Brenton Kroehn said this year's stellar start was certainly needed.

The Kroehns recorded 138 millimetres of annual rainfall last year, with about 100mm during the growing season.

This year, they have had 166mm to-date.

"It is the best start we have had in a long time," Mr Korehn said.

"We had 93mm from January to the end of March, which just set the season up."

Mr Kroehn said after such good early rain, they "took a chance" on the season and started sowing 20 hectares of feed on February 6 after 50mm of rain.

"I have never sown that early before," he said.

"But every time we had a rain event, we got the tractor out and went seeding."

It has created the unlikely problem of now an abundance of feed because of ongoing favourable weather.

"I've never seen anything like this," Mr Kroehn said.

"Normally we sow our feed (a mix of barley, oats and vetch) to wean onto in late July - some of those paddocks have already gone to head.

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"We can't even cut them for hay because it is the middle of winter - we would never get it dry.

"And it won't be harvested because the grain will get frosted because it's so early.

"We have been grazing them since late March and we can hardly keep up.

"At least it is taking the pressure off other rested paddocks, plus we don't have the hay stocks we normally would because of the drought.

"We hope to take the edge off these paddocks before we wean in three weeks time."

All up, the Kroehns put in 3000ha of wheat, barley and sheep feed. They finished seeding by May 12 after an "awesome run".

"We have kept our cropping program pretty simple coming out of two years of drought," Mr Kroehn said.

"But looking at our paddocks, you wouldn't know we have just been through two years of drought.

"And while our optimism about the season isn't as strong as it was earlier in the year, we have so much subsoil moisture, that I am confident we're going to be OK."

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