Calving has been ging well. We've got a lovely bunch of calves. Some of Davo's favourite cows had had heifers, including four silver Mordred heifes out of some really good cows which should give us some new bloodlines. Below is our only Mordred bull calf out of a really good cow, Josie M15 so I'm looking forwards to seeing how he develops. The two cows we bought from Rogialyn have both had heifers as well (Tarella F9 and Antoinette N15).
This is the calvng paddock, just before grazing. This paddock is closest to the house and yards and often gets over-used and over-grazed. It was well overdue for a clean up. Davo disced and harrowed to level out the pugged areas, and sowed some leftover oat seed. Normally this amount of green feed for transition cows would not be a good idea due to the risk of milk fever but beef cows are at lower risk than dairy cows and we made sure we had milk fever bags on hand for the start of calving. We also thought this was a sensible precaution as the cows could have had some mineral imbalances after the extended dry period. Thankfully we haven't had any problems so far.
Into the oats
About 10 weeks after sowing we were able to put the cows into the oats for their first grazing. The cows were delighted to see a sea of green feed. Their eyes were bigger than their bellies - and their bellies were BIG! Going into winter I was a little bit worried about how much feed we would have in front of us and as it's turned out, it's fine.
The cows went onto the lucerne. With the warm weather after the rain, the lucerne has reesponded and we had fed there for grazing before the weather cools down so I was happy to give it a light grazing before winter. It was just wonderful to hear the munch of cows on fresh grass. It was like a chorus of bovine chomping!
Keith Butler's Marvel-lous calves
Davo called in to see Keith Butler to see how his bull, Mount Major Marvel is going. This has been a tough season for Keith in Ballarat, with the dry season but this first crop of Marvel calves is looking excellent. Keith is very happy with them and says Marvel is a lovely quiet bull. Marvel was out of one of my favourite cows, Josie H3, by Mount Major Jackpot and I thought he was a very structurally correct young bull with some really good shape.
Oats are up
After months of dust it was just wonderful to see the paddocks turning green again. Dry sowing was a bit of a gamble - there were no guarantees that we would get sufficient rainful for a good break but seeing these little oat plants popping up gives us reassurance that sometime soon we will have green feed again.
Visit from Neill and Jane Burke
We were delighted to welcome Neill and Jane Burke, our good friends and Murray Grey breeders from New Zealand (Chequers Murray Greys). A chance to catch up and chat about cows. Neill and Jane have got Kingswood progeny in New Zealand and it was good to be able to compare notes. This Kingswood daughter has done well in a tough year.
Maisie and Grey Lady returned to the Youth Camp at Wodonga for a second year. Maisie learned a lot more about show craft and handling and Davo was very proud when she was sashed 5th place in the young handler's competition.
Maisie and Grey Lady are heading off to the Youth Camp this weekend and Grey Lady needed her BVDV test. All it takes is a simple ear notch and short 15 minute wait for the test to deliver a result. A good time to discuss our broader biosecurity plan for pestivirus. We are lucky at the home farm that we are surrounded by cropping and sheep, so there is no opportunity for nose-to-nose contact with unknown cattle. However, at the lease block there are some neighbouring cattle on one side and so we always try to keep a paddock between our cows and the neighbours. After spot testing for the last 10 years, with no evidence of the disease, we have made a decision to systematically test all our bulls and any cows that we buy in from now on. The cost and ease of the test have improved - we are already doing SireTrace anyway and for a simple tick of a box and small cost, we can get BVDV testing on the same sample for bulls. We feel this will provide a stronger health guarantee for ourselves and our clients.
On Easter Sunday we had some absolutely lovely rain. And after such a long, dry period, having the dust settled and the smell of fresh rain was marvellous - it has been like a pressure release valve coming off. Even though we'll be feeding cows for weeks to come, having it rain at the time when we traditionally start to expect a break in the season was a big relief. We do need follow up rain but any rain is a good start. We will be eagerly looking for the first tinge of green in our freshly sown paddocks.
Even though it has been (and still is) extremely dry, we have just sown a third of our farm area to oats. The oats will be used for grazing and/or silage or hay, depending on what the season delivers. This year we had a 9m air seeder so 30 Ha was sown in half a day. I really like sowing oats because they are hardy and flexible, and fit very well into our grazing system. We have 4 paddocks of lucerne to capture summer rainfall, but we are still predominantly a winter rainfall area so oats help get the best use out of our growing season rainfall. It feels good to be doing a normal seasonal activity when the weather has been abnormally dry for so long. There is no rain predicted at the moment but the average break around here usually comes within the 6 weeks either side of ANZAC Day, and dry sowing fits in with our contractors - the oats will be quite happy to sit there in the ground and wait for rain. Recent soil tests have shown we don't have any areas of deficiency to address so w e've sown the oats with 100 kg DAP/Ha to provide some available N & P and give the oats a good start to get up and going.
Well, we thought weaning was early last year on 25th March, but needs must and the calves have been weaned. With 200 day weights recorded and 7 in 1 vaccinations as well, it was a good morning's work. It was a noticeably bigger job now that we have increased the herd size but everyone pulled their weight - Ted in the yards and Maisie recording weights with her neat handwriting - and we got it all done before the weather got too hot.
Heifer Challenge Success
Well done Davo - top 10 in the Beef Week Heifer Challenge!!! We have been entering every year for nearly 10 years and the aim is to present a consistent pen of 10 heifers. This year we had only 12 heifers to choose from, sired by 6 different bulls, and there were 36 studs entered across Victoria, SA and southern NSW. Davo’s top 10 result is a strong endorsement of his consistent breeding values and reward for all the effort he has put into keeping his girls in good condition. So proud of you honey!
|Photo credit: Stock and Land|
OPEN FOR BEEF WEEK 2019
We will be open for Beef Week again this year on day 7 which is Friday 1st February. You'll be able to see some of our females with calves at foot and our Heifer Challenge entry. I'm very happy with our even line of replacements. It's a good opportunity to get a first look at the spring bull crop while they are still with their mothers and there are some real crackers out there. There will be calves on display from Mount Major Kingswood, Lickety Split, Monaro and Manu, along with some calves by Eylwarra Sands Falcon. Davo is also planning to get out over the long weekend and look at some other herds as well. (Pictured here is Mount Major Nacho N15.)
Destination King Island
These handsome young fellas are just about to head off to King Island - we're hoping to follow them for a weekend break later in the year.
60ml in the middle of December gave us a good grazing off the lucerne to provide a fairy bit of high protein feed for the cows for a month. We try and let 60-70% of the lucerne flower to allow the plants to put energy back into their root reserves, which helps them to persist. Some of our lucerne has lasted 10 years before it needs to be renovated. As the plant is more mature and has thicker stems, this also helps to manage bloat, although we always make sure cows are not going into fresh lucerne hungry and provide them with a bale of hay as well.