I headed out to Roma, Western Queensland for the Easter long weekend. My parents live on a property and it is where I was born and raised. It is a decent drive if you aren’t used to it, but 480 kilometres can be done in about 5.5 or 6 hours depending on how many trucks you have to overtake or how many coffees need to be consumed.
Home is about 300 acres and cattle are run most of the year depending on whether there is decent feed (grass) or not. It has been a good season of late with some much needed rainfall over last couple of months so there is plenty of buffle grass.
The week before I arrived my parents bought 40 heifers which meant we had some yard work to do over the Easter break!
I was in charge of writing our property name and phone number on the ear tags that would be placed in each of the heifer’s ear…in case they decide to sneak under a fence or flood way and get on the road. I also ensured each heifer felt special with their own personalised message…
We use a four wheeler and buggy to round up the cattle and push them into a “wing” (two fences running adjacent to each other) which leads into a small paddock that then leads into the cattle yards. This time the heifers were happy to trot along and it didn’t take much to get them into the yards.
There are three holding pens in the cattle yards to help separate the cattle and to push them through the cattle crush to then be ear tagged and drenched.
Everyone has a job in the yards…
Mum: push the cattle one or two at a time into the crush.
Me: shut the sliding door on the cattle crush, mark the count tally.
Dad: open the crush and get the heifer’s head into the crush.
Me: spray the heifer from neck to tail with a drench that stops the flies hanging around them.
Dad: ear tag the heifer.
Dad: open the crush and let the heifer out into the first holding pen – after I give them a pat!
Me: set up the ear tag gun and open the sliding door on the crush.
Repeat 40 times…or 41 times when someone accidentally lets one go through the crush 😉
It is hot and hard work and sometimes a heifer doesn’t want to go through the run or into the crush or turns around in the crush which slows the process down.
My biggest concern is animal welfare (Dad loves the fact that he raised a “greenie” lol). There are no electric jiggers used to push the cattle into the yards, we only use poly pipe to prod the cattle as they move at their own pace up to the crush (the cattle are never hit).
There is no yelling, loud noises or slamming of gates to ensure the cattle stay as calm as possible and are not stressed. There is always one or two head that get worked up and it is a matter of taking a break to let the whole herd calm down.
Once the heifers has gone through the crush and have a bit of a think about what just happened they are pretty content. When the whole herd has been through the crush, they are all let back out in the paddock. They will probably be mustered again in a few months and drenched again – fly is really bad at the moment – and there is nothing worse then seeing cattle fly blown.
The next morning I woke up and the heifers were hanging around outside my bedroom window!
So what else did I do for Easter in the Country…