Baffled newbie, but undeterred………
So recently a very good friend of mine recently asked me, "So im going overseas for a while, you have always loved this place, why don't you house sit for a bit and see what you think."
My response, "hell yes! you know I’ve always loved the place", I mean who wouldn't, 10 acres in Swannanoa / Fernside, river on the boundary, very nice house established paddocks for cows, an orchard, big garden, green house, A MAN CAVE!!! it’s always was a piece of land i wished i could emulate and make my own. And, seriously, a cool man cave.
So, at the tender age of 48 I’ve taken that extra step......I’m trying to buy the place, and the owner, is off overseas.
Well, it’s been adventure so far, a couple of month into it, I’ve learnt basics around tractors etc. but the one thing that is causing me consternation are the basics. Those unknown unknowns, I’ve scratched my head at a couple of things, had the two cows get the better of me on more than one occasion, but determination and the willingness to problem solve are possibly my stronger points. (certainly not a cow whisperer at the moment)!
I’ve two Angus Cows a steer and a heifer, one soon destined for the yards the other freezer. Unfortunatly I have little or no idea about the paddocks, to me the grass looks like its gone to seed, my friend casually mention not to stress, throw some calves into those paddocks, but hang on I thought I needed to consider making hay…..i mean its sunny, don’t I make hay when its sunny…..then the connection is lost, grrr internet!
So this is a learning curve and a half, I have to work out what to do with overgrown paddocks, devise a plan to use sheep in the orchard (as the grass is just possessed…its like "the day of the triffords" the way it grows), who to get to look at the boy moo for the yards…or is it the girl? Then there is selecting a herd of chickens and bee…….
But it is beautiful there and I have always loved the land, and there is the man cave…….
So if anyone would like to help a bloke a little out of his depth and is out that way, and wants a good laugh, Please say hi!!!!!
Cattle can be quite a handful if you are not used to handling them, I would break feed our paddocks year round for two reasons. 1- Once the calves were weaned, they would still get contact with me every 2nd day- keeping them rather tame. And 2-, it managed my pasture better, keeping weeds down & removing the need to top paddocks as the stock did that for me.
So you would like to do either the heifer or steer for home kill? I prefer heifer myself, but with only one of each- are you wanting to keep her and have 3 breeding cows next year? Or butchering one and earning a bit of pocket money from selling the other is your goal?
I find if selling one animal- its often best to ask friends/ family/ neighbours if they would like a beast for the freezer/ or half a beast- (or just want to buy it live & do what ever with it later) and sell them their portion 28 days before home killing- and ask them to come over and move them once in that time. Thus, keeping you on the legal side of the NZ home kill rules & regs. *Best to read them yourself also. Or- try and sell your 'spare' animal on your local buy/sell/swap farming pages- less hassle than getting one animal on a truck & too the sale etc- imho.
Lastly- do you have a shed to store any hay you make? If so, do you have a plan if you end up with too many bales to fit in the shed? Getting to know your neighbours is often quite helpful in these situations, they may buy some hay off you, or know someone who wants some. Im in South Canterbury- so can't help with a contact for hay making, but asking the neighbours who they use, is often a good idea.
W604 wrote: I’ve two Angus Cows a steer and a heifer, ...
VioletFarmer wrote: ...So you would like to do either the heifer or steer for home kill? I prefer heifer myself, but with only one of each- are you wanting to keep her and have 3 breeding cows next year? ....
I don't think any of us know whether that's a steer and a heifer: two "cows" or two cows, a heifer and a steer, i.e. four cattle.
Yes I’ve a large 3-4 bay shed I’ve a bit of hay already but it’s a couple of years old and my friend prior to heading off that I should feed it out this winter, but whilst I’ve got the stuff growing like it is I thought it a good idea to get some put away just in case.
I’ve taken some photos I will try and upload to show what I’m working with
And just to clarify I’ve two cattle one a boy with no nuts and a girl with big brown eyes, they are called 1 and 2, both are now eating out of my hand and don’t do the pawing at the ground thing at me in fact whilst installing the solar irrigation timer I had them very interested in what I was doing, they even met my dogs, who incidentally thought they were the biggest dogs they had ever seen,
5 acres, Ferguson 35X and implements, Hanmay pto shredder, BMW Z3, Countax ride on mower, chooks, Dorper and Wiltshire sheep. Bosky wood burning central heating stove and radiators. Retro caravan. Growing our own food and preserving it. Small vineyard, crap wine.
Making hay is an extremely expensive way to save grass if you don't need to. A bovines requirement of 1/2 bale per day, where you are, to maintain condition over winter is about $4 per animal per day. For us, grass is worth about $1 per day per 2 year old.
Sell your steer to the works. Nowadays heifers and steers pay about the same, except .... when the heifers have cut their second set of adult teeth, and are you going to be able to check the heifers teeth on the day she goes on the truck? As home kill it won't make an iota of difference with these teeth have cut. Steers don't have this age restriction.
Get replacement calves before one or other goes, and run them with the older animals. That way the old animal will not be alone when the mate goes.
Do not kill in the yards if at all possible. I try to position the animal in a safe place with a biscuit of hay, and have her mate close by. As soon as the animal is shot, the live one is chased back in with the rest of the herd. If you must use the yard then scrape up the blood as well as possible into buckets with a shovel, then wash the area with concentrated Jays Fluid.
The butcher should be able to sell the skin for you and provide about $20 credit for it. The butcher will cure the tongue if you ask, and on kill date will have the tail and diaphragm steak for you to make ox-tail stew (which is the best part of a beefie). He will also have the heart, liver, pancreas and lungs if you ask for them. We use them for dog food, but they are moderately tasty for humans. Tripe is not worth the effort, and stinks if cooked for dog food. If you or the butcher have Asian friends they might love the chance to take away all the offal including the tripe, leaving you with the head and feet to get rid of, and the rumen and gut contents to use in the garden as compost. If you want some of the offal, make sure that the helpers don't steal it.
We kill in April to June, and try to have it hung for only 3 days. With our system, longer hanging only results in off flavours caused by bugs growing .... which might be how aged meat is supposed to taste, but we don't like it.
You are not permitted to sell or to trade your home killed meat, and don't forget to tell NAIT that she has died.