To the new cattle owners, who may never have owned cattle before, there are just a few things that you need to know before purchasing. I recommend you go to the following website for some very good cattle handling information. https://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0015/12372/WSV1079_Beef_web.pdf
I am what you would call a novice to cattle breeding and I would be regarded as a "hobby farmer." I started off breeding sheep many moons ago, as a hobby farmer, and then went on to buy a couple of calves to play with. Not long after that we purchased our first highland catte and that was in 1991 and then of course we needed more land. We now run between 40 and 50 head.
The very first thing and the most important thing you MUST have are cattle yards. You must always be able to yard your animals, as one day you will need to, whether it is just for drenching, or an emergency, you will need them.
One of the things I learnt very early was that at some stage you do end up sending some cattle off to market and until the last few years that worked out fine with the horned highlands, but this is not so easy these days considering that most markets and abattoirs do not allow horns so they have to be dehorned before they go. This is not the end of the world, yet I class it as one of the unpleasant duties you need to perform with horned highland cattle, but not necessary if you breed poll cattle. So check out your local cattle market, abattoir or agent regarding the necessary arrangements for selling your cattle.
The need for drenching a couple of times a year warrants good cattle yards. The easiest form of drench for lice and worms is what we call a "backline" drench. It is simply a pour on down the back line of the animal from the shoulders to the tail.
Seven in one injections and the pesti virus injection once a year is necessary unless you run a closed herd, meaning no animals in and no animals out of the property (if returning).
The NLIS tag is to be put on all new calves born on your property, you can purchase these tags on line simply by just looking up "NLIS" on line and register your property.
Purchased animals need to be registered on the NLIS data base which you can look up online also.
Do you know how to steer a bull if necessary?
Make sure when purchasing cattle that you ask these basic questions. Do they have an NLIS tag? What age? When were they drenched? Have they had injections? Are they horned or been dehorned? If you are stud breeding, check out the paperwork and ask if they are registered and if they will be transferred to your name. Ask if the price includes GST.
Well that about covers the basics, I hope I have encouraged you to purchase some cattle especially Poll Highland Cattle. Please feel free to call me for a chat. Phone Julia on 0419 140622
Basic Calf Training
We have been training calves since 1991, these are the methods that we have used and developed into our own style, some may suit you and some ideas may not. We like to train them with food, it seems to work the best as does with the canine and the human variety. We also use the gentle method which sometimes takes a bit longer.
I (meaning me as my husband does not help!) usually don't start the training until they are about to be weaned, 7 to 8 months of age.
First weaned calves - step by step:-
- I usually bring the mothers into the yards coaxed by grain or hay about 4 or 5 times over 4 or 5 days
- Once the calves are taken away from the mothers I offer grain and hay to them at least once or twice a day. Easier if they are in a small paddock
- Confine them into the yards giving them hay and grain for about 4 days, small offerings of food often
- Put them into the race daily and run your hands over them talking to them all of the time, try brushing them after a few days, particularly try under the chin and on their rump, this seems to give them confidence with you touching them all over, tap with a stick gently on the rump and reassure them
- Once confident you will be able to brush them in the paddockHalter training
- When they seem rather calm when brushing them in the race, put a halter on them and tie it loosely to the rail, then after a few days, tie it closer. Always brush them and talk to them
- To lead them I try pulling them along the race, tug gently on the rope, quick sharp movements and use a command like "Come on" or "Walk on".When they start to walk release to a loose lead
- Once walking around the yard, walk beside them on the left (like a horse) and talk to them, give them a little pat when you stop, give them a little pat, or a brush, then get them to walk on.When you stop, say "Stand."A good idea to get a helpful husband to help, walk behind the animal if it won't walk properly, swap leaders,get them to stand in front of you.Hints:If the calf kicks, go back a step in training, more patting and rubbing in the race, tap with a stick gently on the rump and reassure themNot every calf, cow or bull like halters, or showing and its best to respect the animal on that. You don't want an animal that gets cranky or frightened.Goodluck!