USING a 20 cubic metre feed mixer is allowing Errol and Candy Brumpton to make use of otherwise unpalatable stock feed, turning it into a high quality ration.
The Brumptons have been purchasing Seko feed mixers for their Well Gully Poll Merino stud at Mitchell for the past 20 years.
Their latest purchase is an upgrade from the previous 17 cubic metre model, and means they can feed close to 4000 sheep in a few hours.
"There are plenty of feed mixers, but this cuts and mixes, so we can put in low quality feed like Rhodes grass, sorghum or sugar cane billets," Mr Brumpton said.
"The sugar cane was what made me buy my first mixer, because the billets were five to nine inches long and not capable of being eaten by sheep."
Mr Brumpton adds minerals, protein and molasses to his roughage, along with cottonseed or lupins.
"The cottonseed absorbs molasses, so there's no waste. In the bigger drought years we'll use barley straw or oaten hay from the south, which might be unpalatable, but you can add other grains, protein, minerals and molasses to create high quality feed."
Mr Brumpton said the property had been officially drought declared since May 2012, but he's been able to handle the long-term drought with the help of the feeding system.
The Brumptons run about 3000 registered stud ewes plus offspring, selling 600 to 700 rams each year by private treaty.
"In my younger life we used to spent a lot of time in the ranges which are covered in wilga, whitewood and bottle trees — all edible scrub — and I'd be up there every day cutting with a chainsaw. We stopped doing that a long time ago."
Mr Brumpton feeds out 7.5 tonnes every three days, and the feeding system has allowed the stud to continue a large artificial insemination program of 1000 to 1600 ewes each year and maintain their lambing percentage by getting the ewes in good condition for joining.
"Last year's lambing percentage was 94pc for our maiden ewes and our long-term average for all ewes is 116pc. Our very best lambing was in 2016 at 134.6pc."
They've also taken advantage of storm rain to plant their own forage crops which are used as silage in the ration.
"In 2015 we had storm in February that we planted forage sorghum on, and it grew tall enough for silage so we put 2000 tonnes away then, and in 2010 we put 3000 tonnes away," Mr Brumpton said.
"We had a really wet August in 2016 that allowed to us make 1200 tonnes of oaten silage, so we've been able to store that and use it in this drought."