Some Difficult Decisions

We’ve been lucky this year and have managed to get ourselves right under some of those summer storms. We’ve had over 2 inches just in the last week. From a distance the place looks spectacular, the dams are full and it’s green as far as the eye can see. But when you get up close the situation is a little different.

When you take a closer look, the groundcover is really patchy, far from the 100% we aim for. This means the grass budget isn’t as healthy as we’d like but also that things aren’t recovering as well as they should be, given the amount of rain we’ve had. Two summers of relentless heatwaves, and no respite during the cooler months due to drought, have taken their toll. The land and the pastures are looking tired and spent.

So we have decided to significantly downsize the cattle herd. We’re going to hang on to the younger cows, and a few of our favourite old girls, and their calves and sell the rest. It was a hard decision to make as we have spent years breeding up numbers, selecting for favourable traits and instilling herd behaviours, but we need to remove some grazing pressure and some cash to kick start recovery. But don’t worry, there’ll be enough to keep you all stocked in beef.

Over autumn we will start pasture cropping the paddocks. This will have a dual purpose. Firstly, it will provide some green forage for the ewes at the end of winter so they’re in peak condition going into lambing. Secondly, the mix we will plant – brassicas for their large canopy and compaction breaking root bulbs, legumes for nitrogen fixing and annual grains for their sugary root exudates to feed soil life – will improve soil structure, increase nutrient availability and revitalise soil biology.

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