At this time of the year in southern New South Wales, there may be little paddock feed available.
Where there is some left, it is generally dry standing feed of low digestibility and protein.
Many local cattle producers have already weaned their Spring-born calves. They are likely using the body condition of the dams to fine-tune this decision.
The last three weeks has seen many cattle change ownership though saleyards in south east Australia.
Large numbers of weaners have been sold, and prices are clearly exceptionally high.
Producers looking to take weaner steers to heavier weights will probably still make a good margin this year. But they do have to tie up a lot more capital in live animals.
Cow and calf units are also readily snatched up, where they are available.
Some of these units have sold close to $3000, and purchasers are looking to build up breeder numbers, as well as value the return from selling the calf as a high priced weaner further down the track.
The nativity scene is one of the most recognised in the Christian culture. The place of Jesus’ birth in a manger in a stable is comforting as it is lovely. It’s a memory of many people’s childhood.
In the nativity, Mary, Joseph and Jesus are sharing Jesus’ birthplace with some domesticated animals. A donkey, oxen and sheep are often painted looking over the scene, as Mary holds the newborn.
The animals complete the picture. They too are a creation of God.
But tradition may have actually put the animals there, rather than fact.
In September and October in southern New South Wales, local farmers watched as the rain fell, and fell, and fell.
It takes a lot to get producers to complain about rain. It wasn’t until paddocks were so wet, tractors were getting bogged, and livestock either had sore feet or weren’t doing as well as they might, that the locals said ‘Enough!’
Now it is drier, and a bit of rain after the hay is in, might be OK again.
This week sees the end of calving for many local producers.
There is an audible sigh of relief, because there’s no more early morning starts, getting up to check calving cows.
Timely indeed, since daylight savings starts this weekend, and there’s football finals that need to be watched – rather than cows.
How does one cope with what seems like a huge price increase for buying new bulls?
Looking at some bull sale results this week, it appears that a commercial buyer needs $10,000 in their pocket just to get an average bull. There have been some huge prices paid, and averages even over large numbers seem particularly high.
But maybe it just depends on the breed, and the seed-stock producer.
It seems that each year at this time, someone writes about Grass Tetany.
Not surprising, since Grass Tetany can be one of the most frustrating diseases for local beef producers.
At a local beef discussion group this week, the total losses from this metabolic condition was high.
The most losses were from someone returning from a well-earned trip, to find his manager had lost quite a few.
Probably no-ones fault, because this disease can catch out even the most experienced producers.
The disappointing thing about black cattle is that if they’re out on the road at night, you might hit them in the car before you see them.
Not so good for the cow, nor the car, and occasionally not so good for the driver.
Cattle need to be kept where you put them.
Cattle fences, especially boundary fences, should be just that – cattle proof. If you let your fences down by not maintaining them, pretty soon they’ll let you down.
This winter has been fairly mild so far, and some farmers have more grass than in other years. Yet there’s still many paddocks with very little feed, and it’s getting colder.
It is common to see farmers feeding hay, and this will continue for a couple more months.
Hay is great winter feed for cattle and sheep. It provides the animals with the extra energy they need, but it warms them up as they digest it.
Twenty or so years ago, one of NSW DPI’s most interesting researchers, Bill McKiernan, started selecting for increased muscle in some trial Angus cattle.
His thoughts were that both the bull and the cow needed sufficient muscling to ensure their progeny were high yielding cattle.
For several generations cows were selected for high and low muscling, creating a wide range in this trait.
Measuring the effect of this muscle on other important traits was the key to the research