If you have not reared your weaners you will have to organise a time to buy from the market or a reputable calf-rearing enterprise. Alternatively, you can ask a stock agent from a stock firm to act on your behalf to purchase a mob unseen for you. If you are clear on what you want to buy, this is a good time-saving way to go, especially if you are not experienced with an "eye for stock".
The weaners will be delivered to your block at a very reasonable cost by a transport firm organised by the sale yard, stock agent or yourself. You will need some kind of facility for unloading from a transporter without a ramp though. Either a loading race or a built-up area of earth, with a wooden retaining wall at the front. If you collect them yourself from the market with a stock trailer you will not need these facilities. Many rural garages hire stock trailers - remember, you can safely tow only the same weight as your vehicle.
Grazing management will take a bit of time, you might use electric fences to break feed the weaners to ensure good new pasture for them each day. Feeding out hay will also be necessary probably in a dry summer and wet or cold winter when pasture growth is at a minimum.
A good water supply - a portable trough on a long hose is ideal for break feeding. That is a snag to break feeding - organising water available in each break.
Be aware of how important some form of shelter is important from the summer heat and cold winter winds. Trees or hedges are very valuable.
A market for the yearlings if you are not going to keep them past this time.
- Buying the weaner might cost anything from $250 - $360 depending on type and condition. Steer or bull weaners of a beef type will be the most expensive. Only buy bulls if you really want holes in your paddocks and a good deal of noise! You will also pay slightly more for a well-matched mob!
- The opportunity cost of grazing will be $5 per head per week. This would be how much you might get for grazing dairy heifers. There will be some extra cost for hay or haylage on top of your grazing.
- Animal health costs are around $1 per head per week.
- No specialised equipment is required, apart from handling facilities for drenching, etc, and an electric fence for break feeding.
Problems may include
Your animal health routine needs to consider:
- Drenching for internal parasites
- Pour on for external and internal parasites
- Eczema control
- Bloat control
- Good quality pasture
- Good quality hay or silage if needed
- If you sell your yearlings through a market at weaning time you can expect anything from $360 to $480 per head depending on the yearling and the market at the time.
- Remember though, losing one animal makes a big difference to your returns, so animal health is a real priority.