As dryland farmers we seem to spend a lot of time talking about rainfall – especially when we are not getting enough. June was no exception – while it makes for easy wintering 24.5mm for the month does little for winter recharge but the continuing dry does make for excellent feed utilisation, minimising how much we need to feed to stock to keep them content.
At the start of June we weighed our weaner deer to see how their 1 June weight compared with previously years. We are very happy with the results. The works mob were 12% (7 kg) ahead of the previous season and the replacement mob were also 4kg heavier than the previous year. This sets us up well for spring slaughter of the works mob. The second mob of weaners is now also on kale and settles into the routine of Lucerne balage every second day, with the kale break shifted once a week.
June sees us pregnancy test the AI hinds and first calvers. The AI hinds are all in calf and most appear to taken early and therefore likely to be to the AI rather than a backup stag. The maiden hinds (rising first calvers) achieved 91% in fawn with only 7 dries. The result is very satisfactory but we are always keen to do better, especially as some of the dry first calvers have been bred from AI so have cost a lot of money to get to this point.
Pregnancy scanning of the ewes also took place in June. We had an exceptional result with MA ewes scanning 199%, 2th scanning 187% and there were only 10 dry ewes in total. Evidently others in the district have also had a good scanning, courtesy of the 135mm rain received in January. So now we have the potential to have a good lambing.
Ewes are rotated around cleaning up any residue on Lucerne paddocks in June. Hoggets are able to graze triticale paddocks but otherwise are being held in a paddock and feed Lucerne silage. We had hoped to start them on a paddock of greenfeed oats but unfortunately this magnificent (5,000kg DM) crop is high in nitrate. It’s a cruel irony that we can only look at this paddock as it killed one hogget on the first day’s grazing.