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.
Out member vet hails from Montana in the United States. At the last meeting she brought her sister, a cattle producer visiting from Idaho.
A feature of the meetings for many years was an update on cattle farming in Montana. Like the old Letter From America by Alistair Cooke on the ABC many years ago, this little section provided some great insights into what cattle producers do over there.
Last meeting, our friend brought back some US bull sale catalogues and local newspapers for us to see. One Angus bull catalogue put up fully described yearling bulls for sale, as well as a few of the stockhorses used on farm. You could take home a horse and bull from the same sale!
A few current copies of the Western Ag Reporter, a newspaper from Billings, Montana, were also shared.
Reading this is a great eye-opener. There are lots of similarities with what we do here, and heaps of differences.
One local ad was from a man who could come to your farm for some current ‘critter control’!
There was also technical information as well.
Here in southern NSW, joining is all but finished, and after Christmas, plans will be afoot for pregnancy testing.
In Montana it’s the same – for many, Spring joining and summer pregnancy testing.
An article from Dr. Griffith, Assistant Professor in the Department of Ag and Resource Economics at the University of Tennessee, explained this well.
He states that producers are faced with a $5 to $10 per head charge to get their cattle pregnancy tested. Some bigger hats buck at the idea.
However, the cost of not pregnancy testing is the ‘cost of feeding the cow from the end of the breeding season until the end of the calving season, and then finding out the cow was not bred.’
‘The cost can vary depending on the time of the year and weather conditions but will generally range from $200 to $400 per head.’
‘Thus finding an open cow in the herd of 40 will essentially pay for pregnancy testing’.
It’s not much different here.
Pregnancy testing is an essential tool to identify and get rid of the less fertility performing cows.
The Tumbarumba Beef Group never fails to balance learning and laughing. The members come out of the hills with stories to tell – of horses, mountains and cattle.
Running it is one of the great pleasures of this business.