With sheep contributing 50 per cent to business profit, Rohan Bahr and Kellie Penfold say dual-purpose crops that respond quickly to rain have become an integral part of their enterprise.
The husband and wife team, who farm 1600 hectares across two properties east of Henty in southern NSW, say grazing crops complement their phalaris, lucerne and subterranean clover pastures, which also coped well in dry seasonal conditions and grow quickly when it rains.
Rohan and Kellie say dual-purpose crops such as LongReach Kittyhawk (PBR) wheat and Hyola 970CL winter canola underpin their livestock enterprise by filling the early feed gap while pastures are establishing each year.
In 2018 these crops were critical during the dry seasonal conditions with dual-purpose canola proving to be a gift that just kept on giving, Kellie says.
One paddock of our failed canola was baled for hay for sheep feed and we bought a lot of hay from neighbours from failed crops to use as feed this year.
A portion of the farm is sown to new pastures every year. However, during 2018, the dry start to the season meant just 40ha was sown, down from their usual 60ha.
Holdfast GT (PBR) phalaris and Coolamon (PBR) subclover is planted on the couples hill country and GenesisII (PBR) lucerne and Zulu arrowleaf clover is sown on their flatter country.
Rohan says their 3000 Merino ewes are kept off the newly sown pastures for 12 months to enable effective establishment.
Rohan and Kellie believe better identification and understanding of decision-making triggers are critical in challenging seasonal conditions.
Wed like to know when to commit a crop to hay, silage, green or brown manure rather than taking it through to harvest, she says.
Having this kind of flexibility will be important in the future when facing difficult climatic conditions.
Rohan and Kellie say 2018 highlighted the shift that had recently taken place in the Australian grains industry with domestic and international demand for red meat keeping grain prices high.
Red meat producers are now keen to keep their livestock numbers consistent and their quality high, she says.
They want to invest in quality feed grain, hay and silage, which opens up more options for grain growers, even for agistment, and provides a buffer against falling international grain prices.