Prepare your business for dry times ahead

Prepare your business for dry times ahead

11 October 2023
-Min Read


Key points: 
  • Be prepared to deal with hot and dry weather conditions over spring and summer. 
  • Continue to manage your property in accordance with the LPA rules and standards. 
  • The MLA drought management page can help you prepare, manage and recover from drought. 

Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) is expecting hot and dry conditions for much of Australia during spring and summer.

During September, BOM confirmed that an El Niño weather pattern is active over the Pacific for the first time in eight years, while a positive Indian Ocean Dipole has also developed. Together, these two climate drivers tend to increase the severity of rainfall deficiencies.

Following months of low rainfall during spring, some farmers will be looking to reduce their livestock numbers, downgrade crops or increase supplementary feeding of their animals. 

Being prepared 

Managing livestock during a drought can be challenging and stressful, and the welfare of both producers and their livestock is paramount. Planning can help producers manage these conditions more effectively and this checklist is a useful tool to help prepare your business for drought. 

Meeting LPA requirements 

The Livestock Production Assurance (LPA) program is the Australian red meat industry’s on-farm assurance program underpinned by seven key elements covering food safety, animal welfare and biosecurity. If you manage your property in accordance with the LPA rules and standards during drought, there will be no issues with your LPA accreditation. 

Priorities include:  
  • Animal treatment: Treatment of livestock must be in line with the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines which cover producers’ responsibilities and set out animals’ needs, including during natural disasters such as drought. 
  • Stock feed: While it is important to ensure animals get enough feed during drought, safe practices must be maintained to ensure animal health and the integrity of their meat. When sourcing emergency fodder, exercise caution. Risks associated with purchasing from unfamiliar suppliers include chemical contamination, weed seed, restricted animal material, and feed that is of poor quality or unsuitable for your livestock. Request a Commodity Vendor Declaration (CVD) for any purchased fodder. Keep a record of all feed that has been brought in and the animals it was fed to. 
  • Fit to load: Livestock must be fit to load for transport. The LPA preparation for dispatch of livestock checklist and MLA’s guide, Is it fit to load? can help producers prepare livestock for transportation. 
  • Livestock movements: Recording livestock movements with LPA National Vendor Declarations (NVDs) and the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) ensures treatments and exposure to food safety hazards are traceable. 
  • Biosecurity: Stock owners need to be aware of the additional risks associated with introducing fodder and agisting stock during drought. LPA’s farm biosecurity plan template outlines recommended practices for returning livestock to your property.

Using NLIS in a drought

The NLIS database can be used to reconcile your livestock numbers and update the number of head on your property. Notify the database of any animals that have died on your property or if you are agisting them during drought.

Further assistance 

Further assistance is available via your State Department of Agriculture or industry contacts 

MLA’s drought management page has a range of guides and resources to help prepare, manage and recover from drought conditions.   

Lifeline provides a national 24-hour telephone counselling service (13 11 14). 

Beyond Blue offers phone, live chat, email and online forum services for anyone who just wants to talk (1300 22 4636). 

Virtual Psychologist offers 24/7 psychological support to drought affected farmers in remote areas via text/online service (0488 807 266). 

ISC’s Natural Disaster Response Bulletin – Drought provides information on continuing to meet the requirements of Australia’s red meat integrity systems during drought. 

ISC Customer Service (1800 683 111) can provide information and assistance to help you meet your integrity requirements during drought conditions.