We choose the coldest week of the year to take a break from Puketira Deer and spent some time on a cattle station in the Australian outback. We left behind an average daily high of just 5 degrees and went to a land of red dirt and Mulga scrub. That’s what the cattle eat – Mulga scrub. Like us they have also been suffering from the effects of dry seasons however the day we left they got 65mm rain – so maybe we are next!
Meanwhile back home spring nitrogen has been applied to pastures in anticipation of increasing animal demand until the Lucerne paddocks are ready to graze. The venison mob of young deer have finished their kale and are now spending a week a time on grass paddocks taking the top off them before ewes are set stocked for lambing.
The main mob of hinds are still very content with their self feed cereal silage and we are anxiously counting the days that it might have left. Will we be able to get to the end of August – 120 days since they went on?
Ewes are in good condition prior to lambing and we set stock them into their different lines. With only 100 ewes carrying singles they are allocated a hill paddock out the back. However there are also 100 triplet bearing ewes which we have been preferentially feeding and they go onto the best of paddocks with ample pasture cover and shelter. How well will they lamb? Twin bearing ewes are spread out everywhere else – some lightly stocked on good shelter but limited feed , others on good shelter and good feed. With limited options we have to set stock too many on a triticale paddock that has good cover and good shelter but does not have a good history as a lambing paddock. We think this is because they all lamb together along the hedge line and get mixed up.
Incredibly, the greenfeed oats for wintering the hoggets on still remains high in nitrate. We were eventually able to graze one paddock but when we wanted to move to the next one it was still too high in nitrate to be safe. In the finish they mainly get Lucerne silage, as do the younger hinds. Its very high quality and they all look forward to it.
As usual the ewes start lambing before we can get them set stocked however they seem to successfully look after their lambs despite being in a large mob.
Our meat processing and marketing co-operative has brought out venison contracts for the period Oct – early February. This is a great morale booster and allows us to forward budget with some confidence knowing what price we will receive. We adopt a spread of kill with some in October. December and late January. Are signing up – doubts creep in as it continues to remain dry. Perhaps we should be trying to get as many away in October, like last year.