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The Week beginning 9thMarch 2002
|The big local Weaner Calf Fair happens at the end of the
second week in March every year, at the Peria Saleyards. We decided this year to sell all
of the steer calves and the bottom three heifers (based on their
growth rates to date). We had put ear-tags in them all much earlier in their lives, with their
individual numbers on them, but to comply with Animal Health Board regulations (in their fight to
control the spread of, and eventually eradicate, TB) we had to put a "secondary" tag in the other
ear of each animal going to the sale. So we brought them into the yards on their way from
one paddock to another and did that.
One or two of these look a bit peeved... the steers at the top and the heifers below.
|Here, modelled by star-of-the-year steer #383, the eartags as specified. We have some choice in the appearance of the tags, i.e. the front "primary" tag must show an individual animal number, but can be various sizes and can be yellow, yellow or .... yellow. Many farmers opt for the minimum size (and cost), but I like to be able to see who's who, from as far away as possible, without hanging something the size of a road-sign in the ear of the animal. These ones seem a reasonable compromise for our system. The "secondary" tag can be any size, but the minimum is the "button" tag, which we only put in if we know we're going to sell the animals.|
We wean our calves by putting them on the truck and sending them to the sale. (Those who stay here get separated by a sturdy fence and just get used to the idea over a few days.) Thursday morning just before sun-up, we were out in the yards, separating the steer calves from their mothers and waiting for the truck to take them away. I prefer this sort of "sending away" to the other, which is what I have to do with the older cows and anything going to be prime beef, which ends at the works, rather than on another farm somewhere.
It would be easier on the buyers of our calves if we weaned them before they went to the sale, since small "lost" animals will go an awfully long way looking for their mums. But since we calve later than most people, by the time the sale occurs our calves are only just six months old (some are only just over five months old) and I don't want to wean them any earlier than that.
I've been giving a lot of thought to our timing and the necessity of getting calves to this particular sale. Buyers tend to come from all sorts of places, near and far, to the Weaner Fairs, so prices are likely to be better at that sale, than if we waited for another month or two. Most people, since they calve in July/August, compared with our September/October timing, have much bigger calves than we do, by the time of the sale, so we don't get as good prices as some of them do for those larger animals. But with the rainfall here and the timing of grass growth, it's never worked well for us to calve any earlier. We might try to edge our timing forward again as we sort out more of the fencing and are able to control the pasture better than we can now.
This is the Saleyard at Peria, inland from Taipa. It's a great gathering place
for catching up with people.
Thursday was the sale of the Steers and Friday, the Heifers. We sold 13 steers for a
reasonable sum and the three heifers more cheaply than I would have preferred, but I didn't
want to bring them home again, so had decided to take whatever I got.
I'm a bit suspicious of this heifer, Virago Iona 04. We got her and Quean 03 in-calf last winter to calve this autumn. With still four or so weeks to go until she's due to calve, Iona is looking incredibly round. I'm starting to wonder if there is more than one calf inside that huge belly. She wasn't a particularly round heifer when not pregnant, so I doubt it's all gut and gas!
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