Traditionally, we’ve grown mostly pure breed Angus cattle at our farm, but in 2016 we began crossing our Angus cows with a Charolais bull named “Jonas”. He is a well-tempered 3 year old Charolais who loves his work! Indeed we have to monitor him closely when he is with our girls to ensure he doesn’t lose too much weight from all the work he does. We also have a pure Red Angus bull called “red rooter” who of course produces our pure breed Angus cattle and is used to service the maidens for their first calfing.
All our beef cattle are bred naturally in their paddock on our farms, with their mothers covered by either Jonas or Red Rooter. Our stocking rate is below industry average and in addition to pasture, the cattle receive hay and silage harvested from our properties when required. We do however due to seasonal demands for feed buy in or supplement their feed either from milled products or from Hay or silage bought in locally.
We calf in March and October each year (summer and autumn calving) When calving time approaches, our cows are checked a minimum of four times a day. If we need to render assistance with a calving we do, but in the vast majority of cases the calves are born naturally in their paddocks.
The first 24 hours are very important for a new born calf, which requires a good feed of its mother’s colostrum. Colostrum contains important antibodies which protect the calf from disease. While some farmers intervene in this process, we leave it to nature and our success rate is excellent.
After about 3-4 weeks the calves will begin to eat grass from the paddocks and hay and silage when they want to. They remain with their mother and drink from her right through to about 8 months of age when they are weaned. During this time they move with their mothers from paddock to paddock through what is called rotational grazing. They spend time with mum and play with each other while learning to be a cow or steer.