He lay in bed and watched the dawn break. Stayed there as the sky went through its early morning colour palate that autumn brings.
He heard Tram stirring in the living room. Television changing channels to view the best cartoons.
Some sounds from the kitchen. ‘Dad’s pretty tired.’
A face peaked through the half closed bedroom door. An expression of not understanding.
In southern New South Wales, beef producers are waiting. Waiting for the ‘break’, when the autumn rains start, and the growing season begins.
The rains have historically started in late April and into May. Producers are now getting used to mid to late May being the likely time.
This year producers are keener than ever to see something happen.
Young Tram looked up at his dad as he pulled his ‘big’ boots on. ‘Big’ boots meant he was going out to help his father on the farm.
‘I love farming’, he said as he pulled hard.
‘So do I’.
I have a great deal of enjoyment in running the Tumbarumba Beef Group. Our Christmas meeting last week was our 54th meeting since the group began, originally as a Department of Primary Industries extension group, part funded as part of the More Beef from Pastures programme.
Today the group members pay as annual membership to be involved.
The members are all beef producers from around Tumbarumba. There is great variety in the country around this mountain town, and as much in the producers who come along.
The amazingly dry season in the south of New South Wales continues.
Many cattle have been fed for several months now, and farmers are getting a bit sick of it.
Tomorrow is ANZAC Day. This is the time when local producers look to an Autumn break being imminent. The odds are that rain will come soon.
Many cattle breeders join their cows for just nine weeks. With a cow being on heat for about eighteen hours once every three weeks, that’s just three chances to conceive over this short joining.
It doesn’t sound much, but in reality it’s plenty. If cows are in good condition and healthy, and at least two months post-joining, they should easily conceive.
The other side is the bull and this can be where producers often look at bit nervous.
As cattle producers are contemplating the drier winter, and perhaps thinking to sell a few to reduce the number of mouths, the adjustment in market price is just another variable in the planning.
The dollar is playing its part, but the season is having a big effect.
Spring is just five weeks away, and we certainly could do with some more rain in many parts.
Cattle producers are probably doing their planning as they drive around on the early morning check of calving cows.
During the last couple of months bull sales of many breeds have been held across the state. These have traditionally been timed for autumn calving herds.
At these sales bull breeders of polled breeds generally identify any bulls in their catalogue that have scurs.
Scurs are small horn like structures that in young cattle are usually not attached to the skull.
They often look like small horn buds, and can vary in shape and length. In older cattle they can sometimes attach to the skull like a horn.
One of the bigger problems we see during times of feed shortage, is the effect on herd fertility. Pregnancy test results after a drought joining are often disappointing.
But one of the more important ways to regain a better financial position after drought is to have lots of calves to sell. It’s a difficult situation.
Designing cattle by combining the genetics of different breeds has enabled livestock producers to better match their cattle to their environment and market for a long time.
The large poultry and pig companies mostly produce designer animals. Straight-bred animals in these industries play only a minor part.
Combining two or more breeds produces an animal with a genetic package average of the breeds involved.
The breed effects of the components are the main reason for doing so – a bit of extra growth from one breed, extra muscle from another, earlier maturing from another.