Scanning & assessment
Scanning went very well - we had beautiful weather and the new pens worked a treat. We really value Liam Cardile’s opinion of our bulls and it’s always good to welcome back our long term clients and catch up on their news. Toblerone was one of the heaviest bulls in the group and also scanned well with the equal second biggest EMA after King Tut alongside Titan. It was very pleasing to see the number of bulls that had very big eye muscles and very high IMF - to get both those traits in numerous young bulls was fantastic.
New water troughs
I'm currently in the process of upgrading some water troughs. The old troughs in our Northside paddocks are just a bit small and slow to re-fill for the size of the herd. The cows will crowd around while they wait for the trough to re-fill and inevitably damage the pipe and fittings, leading to frequent trough repairs being needed - sometimes in pretty awful weather. I have trialled these new troughs in some other paddocks and they are much more up to the job. The concrete hood over the float valve is fantastic to protect it from the cows.
After last year's soggy experience, it was nice to have a more manageable calving season again this year and nicer weather. I've been very happy my Strzelecki and Skipper calves. Strzelecki went over the heifers and all of his calves have been born unassisted. In fact, I've only had to assist one cow this year, and that was because her calf was coming out backwards. Skipper calves have great shape and size and they are born full of beans - they just get up and get going straight away! I'm planning on using both bulls more widely this season. We got our first Bottlesford Mocha calves on the ground and they have also been a very good size and shape - I'm really excited to see how they grow out and I can't wait to see how they scan, but that's 12 months away! We've had one set of twins - a pair of bulls, both good sizes and the dam has done a fantatic job of mothering both of them.
Six species mix
We came home from our trip of a lifetime to France, UK and Scotland, to find that the six species mix was going gangbusters. The forage brassica provides a big bulk of early feed. The second grazing tends to be more clover and ryegrass dominant and by the third grazing the lucerne and herbs come through. I'm finding it a very good option to extend our grazing season.
Visit to Playfair Farms
After the UK Murray Grey tour, Maisie & I joined the boys to catch up with our UK relatives and do some sight seeing. On our way up to Scotland, popped in to visit James Playfairy-Hannay at Playfair Farms, Morebattle and enjoyed a tour of his property, as well as stunning views over the borders. Davo thought that James' three-way cross MGxShorthornxAngus were stuninng cattle and very well suited to the environment.
UK Murray Grey 50th Anniversary tour
Davo and Ted had a fantastic time on the UK Murray Grey 50th Anniversary tour in England. As well as being an opportunity to catch up with some good friends, they visited three different paddock-to-plate operations (Jonathan Chapman's farm, Native Beef, Wildfell Farm and Launde Farm) and loved visiting on-farm butcheries and dry ageing facilities. Talking to breeders from different countries was a real highlight and Davo found it interesting that while they all have weather challenges, wet, dry, cold and hot are managed differently around the world. They were also able to compare notes on challenges around consumers, markets and government policy. After the tour, the boys called into Cotswold Seeds who have been at the leading edge of trialling herbal leys and multi-species mixes which was a great experience, especially for Ted who is thinking he would like to be an agronomist.
Weaning and new pens
We had beautiful weather for weaning and with new pens, and a bit of help from Ted in the yards, the job was a breeze. This year we have split our long thin pony paddock into a set of 4 pens with a long laneway. The ponies now have less area to get fat in spring but they do have a spiffy new field shelter which they appreciate very much! The other 3 pens are proving very handy for drafting and grouping smaller mobs and it's amazing how well the laneway works for cow flow.
We collect tail hair samples from all the calves for parent verification and genomic testing, so our clients can have confidence in the genetics they are buying. We are also testing for NT821 and other double-muscling genes. NT821 is also related to females having a smaller pelvis so the combination of bigger calves and smaller pelvises is a recipe for calving difficulty we don't want and neither do out clients. The gene is in every beef breed and hasn't really been an issue in the Murray Grey breed but there have been a couple of bulls that have been identified as carriers that have been used fairly widely and after speaking to our clients we have decided that we won't be selling any animals with unknown NT821 status to our clients and we are aiming to remove any carriers from the herd over time. So far we have identified 5 cows that are carriers and have culled 2 already. The only way to know how many cows are affected is through testing.
Bless this boy - Ted's home for the holidays and busy getting paddocks sown for our autumn start-up - a bigger job than usual, thanks to the floods. And while he was out there, doing laps of the paddock, he spotted an echidna and thought of his mum! He knows how to keep BOTH parents happy
The flood had damaged some perennial stands so there was a lot more sowing to be done than usual at autumn start up. We chose to oversow the damaged areas - about a third of the home property - with a six species mix, as well as putting in 20 ha of grazing wheat. The six species mix contains chicory, plantain, lucerne, forage brassica and 2 types of clover. Ryegrass is not sown in the mix but there must be a good seed bank from prevous years as plenty comes through. I like the six species mix because it provides an even spread of feed through the year, producing a little bit more on the shoulders of the seasons. It also has a little bit more legume content which should reduce our need for nitrogen fertiliser applications. I haven't seen any bloat with it either, just having the extra spread of species.
200 day weights and vaccinations
It was lovely to have Ted home for the weekend to help with 200 day weights and vaccinations and it's always nice to see how the current crop of calves are performing. Titan and Toblerone were the standouts amongst the bull calves. They both had weight, shape, and were looking really good. The heifers were a very even line which will make it hard to select the ones that will be retained.
Ted starts at Longy
We have just left Ted at Longrenong Agricultural College, all smiles and ready for his next big adventure. We’re going to miss him but we are so proud.
Open for Beef Week
We will be open for Beef Week again this year and are looking forwards to talking cows with anyone who stops in - current clients and new visitors are all welcome.
New Year, new tractor, new farm
It's a special day being able to take delivery of a new tractor. After 15 years, the 1970s David Brown was getting a bit tired and not coping so well with the hot weather. So we've upgraded to a new Deutz 5105, thanks to Mark Lewis and the team at GV Ag. The cows thought it was weird seeing a different tractor bringing food.
We have been lucky enough to have the opportunity to buy the block we have been leasing for a few years from Brett & Carolyn West. Our new property is 80 acres at Yabba South, a bit closer to Dookie, with a gorgeous mud brick house. The farm has a good pasture base and a very well sheltered block. I'm looking forwards to doing a bit of boundary fencing to improve biosecurity and some pasture improvement.