MERRY CHRISTMAS from us all at Mount Major Murray Greys!
Geoff Roberts of "Wingelo" at Wagga Wagga has just picked up his new bulls - all in the top 5% of the breed for indexes. Geoff runs a 500 cow commercial Murray Grey herd with progeny destined for the grass-fed premium market.
After a wet spring we finally got a break in the weather and have been lucky enough to make 300 rolls of top quality lucerne, clover and ryegrass silage off 15 Ha which should provide us with about 9 tonnes of dry matter. We were keen anted to get the silage off so the lucerne could re-grow while there is plenty of soil moisture. The lucerne is re-growing nicely and by the time the cows get around to grazing these two paddocks there should be loads of lucerne in front of them.
Joining officially started last night. Davo drafted out the girls who are going to be running with Dajory Latitude L420 (now known as "The Dude") and this morning we put CIDRs in the rest of the herd to synchronise them for AI. We use an 8 day CIDR program that will allow us to inseminate all the cows over a 3 day period - we've got to try and fit AI in between a birthday party, a Board meeting and our inseminator's work shifts. We don't try to synch any cows that are already cycling so they got tailpaint and were put in with The Dude. The kids were a real help loading the CIDR applicator, opening gates and running back to the shed for the inevitable forgotten things. No prizes for guessing who was helping with the tailpaint - this is what happens when you let a 12 year old boy loose with a spray can!!!
We are very pleased to welcome Dajory Latitude L420 to his new home at Mount Major Murray Greys. Latitude brings a bit of Oomph with added style. He has a lovely round hindquarter, strength of spine and good feet. Josh describes Latitude as "Just what Davo likes, a nice meaty bull". Latitude won his under 12 months class at Adelaide Royal Show this year in an extremely strong class and his half brother, Dajory Longreach, won Grand Champion Bull at Melbourne Royal Show. The two bulls are almost identical, like peas in a pod: even Josh has difficulty telling them apart.
When the stormy weather passed through this week, it brought down two of our beautiful old shade trees. If it hadn't been so wet this would have been a brand new fence (mind you if it hadn't been so wet, the tree probably wouldn't have come down). It's been the wettest winter on record. We have had 425 mm between May and September, with more since. That's more than last year's annual rainfall. What do they say? "Australia is a land of drought with occasional floods". Fortunately the rainfall has been consistent and we haven't flooded but there has been a lot of water running off paddocks for months. We've had to sacrifice some paddocks to save our best lucerne paddocks from being pugged but the rock that we put down around the stockyards at the beginning of winter has paid dividends as we've had no machinery bogged.
24/09 Update Semen has been delivered to clients in NZ in time for 2016 spring joining and we are awaiting confirmation that it has arrived in the UK.
Stop the Press! Kingswood semen is on its way to the UK and NZ!!
It is very exciting to report that Kingswood semen is on its way. We had a tank sharing arrangement with Semex (to NZ) and Genetics Australia (to the UK). This has taken some negotiating but we are very grateful to both of these companies as this has reduced our freight costs considerably, enabling us to offer elite genetics overseas at a reasonable price. After Kingswood's semen was collected at Total Livestock Genetics, it was transported in a sealed tank from the collection centre to the airport where it was inspected by quarantine and approved for transit overseas. When it arrives at its destination, it will be sent to a distribution point and clients will be notified.
Wet and muddy
It's the wettest spring in about 20 years. Plenty of mud, plenty of grass. We're feeding straw to try and balance the fibre in the cows' diets and slow their guts down.
More calving news
We welcomed our newest superstar after a wet and cold night: Mount Major Lucy has a thumping +5.5 predicted for EMA. Lucy is by The Glen Bass F226, out of Banksia Ridge Lucy X22 and is her mother's 13th calf. Banksia Ridge Lucy came to Mount Major 18 months ago and as you can see - she has settled in well and loves a pat.
Satisfying sale results
It's always good to top the market, and pleasing to get great results like these, it was not long ago that 281c/kg was only a dream for prime steers let alone bulls! Let's hope these prices stay around for a while.
First Kingswood calf
Trip to UK
We have just returned from a three week whistle-stop tour of the UK, mainly visiting family but also taking the opportunity to visit some Murray Grey herds as well. As you can see, we had excellent weather for our visits to the Darose and Vroe Murray Grey studs. We were treated to a lovely lunch by Rose Kent and her family at Crickhowell in Wales and really enjoyed a walk through the paddocks. Rose then took us round to Tim Ling's place in Herefordshire which was only a half hour drive on the other side of Sugarloaf mountain, where we stayed two nights in a magnificent restored farmhouse. It was lovely to get out in the fresh air and away from the crowds: the scenery at both farms was amazing, the British countryside at its best. It was wonderful to meet Rose and Tim and we are very grateful to them both for their kind hospitality and the chance to see their "Murrays".
|with Daisy, Rose & Dave Kent of Darose Murray Greys||with Tim Ling of Vroe Murray Greys|
Major success at sale
We are very proud and excited to report that Khan won first in his class and made the second highest price in the sale at $10,500. We are grateful to the organisers of the Clipex 50th Murray Grey National Show & Sale and of course to all the bidders who helped to make it such a strong sale. We especially wish Khan's new owners, Mermeran Murray Greys at Dubbo, all the best. You can read more about the sale at The Weekly Times, The Land, Stock and Land and the Stock Journal.
It's been a busy couple of weeks as we start to think about autumn.
National Show & Sale 2016
We are in the process of renovating one paddock so that was sprayed out in spring and has now been completely sown to oats to give it a break and clean before the next stand of lucerne gets established. This is our "60ac" paddock which has always been slightly too large for the herd. It's hard to keep up the grazing pressure on the right areas so the good patches are frequently over-grazed and the poorer areas are under-used. This year we will split the paddock in two which should improve pasture utilisation and will also give us more flexibility for those times like joining and weaning when we have lots of management groups to juggle. A couple of the Northside lucerne paddocks have also been oversown with oats. With the aid of GPS we have been able to sow oats between the rows of lucerne and not reduce plant numbers. All we need now is some rain!
All the calves have been weaned. We did the bull calves first and have given them access to the grain feeder so they don't take a set back, as we have very little paddock feed. Then the heifer calves followed a few weeks later and went onto one of the lucerne paddocks that still has some green feed. We like to do fenceline weaning, with mothers and calves in adjoining paddocks and a good fence between them. We think they settle down quicker if they can see and smell each other, and certainly it only takes about 24-48 hours for the bellowing to subside.
Congratulations to Neil & Jane Burke who have a new Tarella for their herd at Chequers Murray Greys in New Zealand, born to Tarella K3, one of Neil's ET heifers out of Mount Major Uplift Tarella C3. What a little sweetie!
Kingswood is on his way
Kingswood passed his blood test (for IBR, leptospirosis, 3 day sickness and BJD), his tail hair test for mannosidosis and breeding soundness exam (lots of sound, active little swimmers and that's official), and he has started off on his journey to international stardom. John Damon (Murray Grey breeder and carrier) of Mooroopna picked him up early on Friday morning and by lunchtime he had arrived safely at Total Livestock Genetics at Camperdown. Thanks John for taking good care of Kingswood - his fame must have spread before him as we hear the Japanese tourists were taking photos at the servo! International semen collection is quite a process. Kingswood will now spend 3 weeks in isolation, followed by more blood tests before he moves to the collection centre. Then we just have to hope that his sperm freeze and thaw well. It will be worth the rigmarole though because he will be qualified for NZ, the US and Canada - and of course Australia!
Bull breeding exams
The vet came out this week to do bull breeding soundness exams on the bulls. The bulls get throughly checked over with a full physical health exam: heart rate, respiration, feet and legs, muzzle, eyes and testicles. The vet also collects a sperm sample which is checked cow side for the health of the sperm and we elected to send a sample off for morphology testing. This is where sperm are checked in a lab by a specialist to make sure they are correctly formed. There are so many things that can be wrong with sperm that you can't see under a simple light microscope so I believe this check is essential. All of the bulls we had tested passed their health exams and the vet was impressed with the vitality of our bulls' sperm which is a good sign.
Atriem Muray Greys
Steve & Anna Koch of Atriem Murray Greys are going to take some animals to the Seymour Alternative Farming Expo. I stoppped in to hand over some breed promotion showbags and took the opportunity to see Steve's heifers and bulls. Steve has Mount Major, Dajory and Banksia Ridge bloodlines, so there were some familiar faces.
After 75 mm of summer rain the lucerne's gone berserk. It's going to provide a big bulk of top quality feed and ease the amount of hay we need to feed out.
Tail hair testing
With Beef Week behind us we are starting to look forwards to the Clipex 50th Murray Grey National Show & Sale at Wodonga in April. We will be taking one bull up to the sale, Mount Major Khan, so tail hair samples have to be taken for pestivirus and parentage testing. The trick here is pull out a clump of tail hair by the roots as that's where the DNA is found, and make sure the sample is not contaminated by other cow hair/dog hair/fluff from the bottom of your pocket by sealing it immediately in the plastic bag.
We also took the opportunity to take tail hair samples from some other bulls and weigh our bulls again. Kingswood and Khan have recovered from the exertion of joining, and Kingswood particularly has really packed on some weight.
We were very glad to welcome visitors for Beef Week again this year, although with Davo away and the kids at school, it was left to me and the dogs to meet and greet. Rain in the previous week gave us a beautiful green backdrop and the weather was mild compared to previous Beef Weeks. The judges gave us some very helpful feedback in the Heifer Challenge and we were pleased to have a steady flow of visitors on the day. (This lovely photo was taken before the rain by Lousie Preece, Stock and Land reporter.)
A bunch of cows and calves from Mount Major Murray Greys have found a new home at Tocumwal with Scott Quibell. Apparently they spent the first few days huddled under the peppercorns bellowing "I'm a celebrity, get me out of here!" but Scott assures us they have all settled in nicely now. Scott and Lucy have been running a cross breeding vealer operation and find the Murray Greys to be fantastic mothers that produce excellent calves.