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4 years 3 months ago #538940 by Carlin
Hi all. Just turned our backs on the big city for 10 flat acres on volcanic soil in Matarau, Whangarei. We would like to develop our own personal supermarket. We already have fruit and veg in place and growing well. We also have 7 decent paddocks with good growth and are trying to decide on what stock to run. We work full time so would need to be something we can manage part time. Leaning towards cattle but would like to know your thoughts/ideas? Also paddocks are a little short on shade so what sort of plantings would be best? Thanks.

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4 years 3 months ago #538943 by Ruth
Replied by Ruth on topic New to lifestyle farming.
Welcome to LSB! :)

Sheep are tough to manage in northland, cattle are less work overall but you must have decent yards to deal with them up close when necessary. What sorts of animals do you fancy getting to know?

Do you want to have native trees or do you like exotics? Whatever you plant will need protection from whatever animals you have.
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4 years 3 months ago #538969 by Carlin
Replied by Carlin on topic New to lifestyle farming.
Hi Ruth. Thanks for your reply. We have stock yards on the property so we’re all good there. Quite interested in smaller breeds of cattle, even miniatures, as they seem easier to handle. Would prefer to plant natives but need something fast growing which will offer plenty of shade and be able to handle some wind.

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4 years 3 months ago #538970 by tonic
Replied by tonic on topic New to lifestyle farming.
Smaller breeds of cattle can be appealing, and I have, and like, Lowline Angus. However, if you are growing for your freezer you will have smaller cuts of meat. Do you like small steaks etc? If you are big red meat eaters then full sized animals may be better. Lowline Angus should produce just as much meat per acre, as you can carry more of them that the full sized ones, but you do need to realise the actual cuts of meat are smaller which is an issue for some people.
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4 years 3 months ago #538990 by LongRidge
Replied by LongRidge on topic New to lifestyle farming.
A flighty small breed of cattle is more dangerous than an easy-going large breed :-(. I have Herefords because of their temperament, but Murray Greys, Angus, Red Devon (not South Devon) are breeds that I have also found to be reasonable temperament. Galloways are an unsuitable small breed, as are Ayreshires. The advantage of a big breed is that if you have to kill it as a calf because of it's temperament then there is more meat than off a small breed at the same age.
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4 years 3 months ago #539000 by Carlin
Replied by Carlin on topic New to lifestyle farming.
ok so temperament is more important than size. That's good to know. Currently the paddocks have quite a bit of growth on them. Am I best to let it go for a while longer and then cut and bale it for feed during the winter? or should I get stock onto it now and buy supplemental feed if needed later?

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4 years 3 months ago #539001 by Ruth
Replied by Ruth on topic New to lifestyle farming.
What's the grass? Presumably Kikuyu? Can you post any pictures? We're reaching the period of the year during which very active Kikuyu control is necessary to ensure winter growth of other grasses - long Kikuyu will shade any rye in the pasture and you'll end up with almost no feed through the cold months.

We have cattle we have to push to get them to move. My biggest cow was pregnancy tested out in an open yard the other week because it was easier to have the vet do that than to get her to move into the race. He was quite safe because she doesn't kick. None of my cows, as a rule, kick. (You'd have to sneak up behind them and give them a fright for them to do so.)

A couple of them are inclined to get anxious in the yards and will try and jump up over the rails. They need to go: that's not safe nor acceptable, mostly not safe for them if they get stuck or put a leg through the rails as they come down.

Cattle of any size are way bigger than we are, except for a week or two after birth. If they're idiots they're a danger to us. Idiots occur because of genetic chance, the temperament of their herd (because of genetics or handling) and how they're handled by people. Some sorts of nuttiness are less bothersome than others, depending on the contexts in which they occur. I've had some twits who look crazy in the paddock but will stand quiet in the yards and vice versa.

But again, what are your interests? Do you want to breed animals, eat them, make a few dollars from them?
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4 years 3 months ago #539002 by Carlin
Replied by Carlin on topic New to lifestyle farming.
Mostly it will be for our own family consumption of meat. We're not looking to breed at the moment until we get the hang of handling stock. Perhaps in a couple of years time we might look at it. I think there's a fair amount of kikuyu in the paddocks but there's plenty of tallish growth coming through. How does one control kikuyu?

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4 years 3 months ago #539003 by Ruth
Replied by Ruth on topic New to lifestyle farming.
Kikuyu's most active growth is during autumn. Unless you can hard-graze a lot of cows, it's a tough one. Most people mow or mulch. Mulching is very effective but expensive in time, machinery and fuel and mowing is almost as good and much more cost-effective.

Gotta dash and make some butter ... I have pictures from autumn management on my site, as below.
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4 years 3 months ago #539006 by Ruth
Replied by Ruth on topic New to lifestyle farming.
A couple on a quick search:
www.diggersvalley.co.nz/2006/Week22April2006.htm See the top of the page.

www.diggersvalley.co.nz/2011/Week16Apr11.htm See the end of the Tuesday entry.
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4 years 3 months ago #539007 by Ruth
Replied by Ruth on topic New to lifestyle farming.
www.diggersvalley.co.nz/2011/Week7May11.htm has a few Kikuyu pictures throughout.

I've successfully brought Kikuyu up to the cows' bellies back into production with about three grazing rounds. It's just a bad feed for young, growing animals unless it is under good control. It's also probably really bad for animals brought onto it from non-Kikuyu situations. One hears stories of starving cows which, when cut open during post mortem examination, have impacted rumens full of the dry ropey bits of Kikuyu I've shown in one of those pictures, the stuff my cattle expertly spit out as they graze. I think they learn to do that.
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4 years 3 months ago #539008 by Carlin
Replied by Carlin on topic New to lifestyle farming.
So I'd probably be better cutting it right back and allowing new growth to come through before introducing stock then? I'm thinking I will be going with steers/heifers, likely herefords or similar. Also, would you know of anyone who could come out to the property to give some suggestions, like a consultant?

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4 years 3 months ago #539010 by Ruth
Replied by Ruth on topic New to lifestyle farming.
Goodness, there's an out-there idea! Very few lsb-ers resort to paying an expert of that type.

Phone around the ones who provide a local service (web search will find several). They will doubtless advise a soil test to see what your soil fertility is like, will have local knowledge of soil types, climatic conditions, potential trace element issues and the like. It could be a very good place to start. But be very clear about your aims and intentions and ask what sort of farms they normally advise on or you might find yourself being urged to go down a track you didn't intend, based on assumptions you're not actually making but they are. Have a look at the Beef & Lamb website and read through anything that looks interesting. It's all very commercially focused but can be useful if you don't know anything about animal feeding and health.

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4 years 3 months ago #539014 by Mudlerk
Replied by Mudlerk on topic New to lifestyle farming.
For my money [and at my stage of debilitation], temperament is more important than everything!

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4 years 3 months ago #539016 by LongRidge
Replied by LongRidge on topic New to lifestyle farming.
Farmlands used to put out a booklet for LSBers that are starting with animals. Your fences have to be very good to be able to contain heifers that are in season, and when heifers cut their second set of adult teeth they suddenly become "cows" and lose half their value if sending to the works.
Remember that it is absolutely illegal to sell meat, or to sell an animal that is going to be killed for meat within 28 days to a person that does not currently own an animal of the same species. We find one 2 year old beef animal enough for a year for us and immediate family.

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