This was the month that we expected the autumn rain to arrive, but sadly it remained elusive. Early April saw the completion of our AI programme with 75 hinds inseminated. A decision was made not to artificially inseminate the 2yr old hinds due to the continuing dry conditions. All weaners were brought through the shed, drenched and weighed. We were pleased to find that they have been averaging 240g/day since weaning – on a diet of predominantly grain and balage.
We took delivery of a second hand Prattley 3 way autodrafter with weight scales and Electronic Identification (EID) capability. This became a project for the younger members of the Puketira Deer team – to redesign and rebuild the sheep yards to accommodate the new drafter. After much planning part of the old yards was removed and a new race and gates constructed to feed the sheep up to the drafter. But would the sheep run? Ewe hoggets were initially tried as they had already been given EID tags. Surprisingly after about 3 runs through they began to go “too fast” and were trying to get into the drafter two at a time! Anyway the new technology allows us to quickly gather information of individual animal and whole mob performance.
By the end of April it was quite clear that it was getting too late to achieve any significant growth before the winter as there had been no moisture, A decision was made to sell down the lightest 100 of our ewe hoggets, As these weighed less than 40kg is was unlikely that they would get in lamb. The other 350 are holding their weight at 42 kg but are not gaining.
A decision is also made to kill 100 capital stock yearling hinds – the potential of the future sent down the road to get their heads chopped off because there is simply no feed and something must go. We received 25mm rain the day they leave, the most significant rain since the 13mm we had received 5 months earlier.
We have taken delivery of our first load of palm kernel and the hinds quickly adjusted to this , a welcome addition to their diet of barley straw and barley grain.