drought lot


 This is not exactly a new word since droughtlotting has been under discussion since 2009, but the current drought has brought it into prominence again, with a greater number of farmers across the country adopting the management practice.

 When there is significant lack of rainfall sheep farmers need to decide what strategy they will adopt. Will they send the sheep off for agistment somewhere else? Will they destock? Neither of these options is attractive but if they wait too long to make a decision they may well find that the drought has spread and agistment is no longer available and the sheep are in such poor condition that selling them is not possible.

 In the past they may well have left the sheep on the property and hoped for the best. The result is a poor outcome both for the sheep and for the environment since paddocks that are grazed to bare earth take longer to recover than those which have retained some level of grass.

A compromise is to have a sacrifice paddock where the animals strip the grass down to the bare earth so that the rest of the property can keep some ground cover.

So the idea is to create a drought lot where the sheep are confined in a small but comfortable space in an area that is close to the farm to facilitate the provision of water and feed. This costs, of course, but the sheep (and the lambs in lambing season) remain in good condition so the value of the stock still outweighs the cost of handfeeding.

 Meanwhile the paddocks benefit from the rest and, once rain falls again, spring back easily into good pasture. 

 We now have the noun droughtlot for the confinement area, the verb to droughtlot with droughtlotted as a past participle used as an adjective, and droughtlotting as the name of the management practice. The community is still deciding on compound noun, hyphenation and single word, so you will find drought lotdrought-lotdrought lotting and drought-lotted  as well.