35StockPlan®: a decision aid for management of livestock during drought and other times

Davies, B.L., Carberry, P.M., Graham, R.P., Mullen, J.D. and Meaker, G.P., (2007) StockPlan®: A Decision Aid for Management of Livestock During Drought and Other Times, Economic Research Report No.35, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Paterson

Executive Summary

StockPlan® is a suite of programs aimed at addressing particular problems in drought management of livestock. The initial program, DroughtPack was developed to help graziers estimate feed requirements and feed costs during a drought. Feed, sell agist (FSA) helps users compare feeding, selling or agisting as options when faced with a drought. Impack examines drought recovery options to get the farm up back to full carrying capacity.

Most people would generally use StockPlan® to help in tactical decision making, however, once the programs are thoroughly understood, it can also be very useful for strategic planning to prepare for future droughts.

StockPlan® is generally sold as a package that includes a comprehensive training component to ensure that users have a good understanding of the appropriate uses and limitations of the three software programs, however, individual packages can be purchased. Detailed workshop notes and case studies have been developed to explain how to use the programs and how to interpret results.

This report has two purposes. Firstly, it details most of the calculations used to generate the financial results in each of the software programs. Secondly, in the process, it uses examples to show the capability of StockPlan® and what it can be used for. In the case of Impack, because of the huge volume of formulae involved, many of the obvious equations that are simply a summation of values or a multiplication of two variables (for example income = number for sale x price) are not provided.

As with all models that are designed for ease of use with a relatively small data input requirement, shortcomings are inevitable. These shortcomings are highlighted, but no apology is made because such programs can be justified if their simplicity encourages use but at the same time they are sufficiently dynamic with a good underpinning of science, to take the user to a new level of understanding of the interactions and consequences of a decision. In time, there will be an increasing number of farmers who have a sound knowledge of the consequences of their decisions and will be seeking decision aids which are more sophisticated.

With the assistance of Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) this program is now offered nationally. AWI helped fund the conversion of FSA and Impack from Excel ® spreadsheets to stand alone programs written in the Delphi language. DroughtPack was also revamped to a Windows format with the help of AWI funding.

More information about Managing in Drought is available.