YARD weaning has been a common practice for decades at Macoma, West Wyalong.
It has been an integral husbandry practice of the Clarke family every weaning, but had been brought forward three months this year due to the continuing and extended dry.
Alan Clarke said he and his brother, Trevor, had yard-weaned for years and he and his wife, Linda continued after Trevor left the partnership in 2012.
“When we read in The Land some years ago that it was a ‘new concept’, we couldn’t believe it,” Mr Clarke said.
“It’s no new concept here.”
At present 57 youngsters from the August/September drop are going through the process.
“We're feeding them faba beans, Coprice calf grower pellets, canola hay and barley stubble,” Mr Clarke said.
“Weight-wise, we’d like to get them up to about the 250 kilogram mark before selling them either at Wagga Wagga or through AuctionsPlus.”
Calves have been putting on between 500 to 700 grams per day with Mr Clarke saying the more forward ones were adding a kilogram or more a day.
Mr Clarke said in a normal year weaners were in the yards for some 10 days.
He and LInda also do what is termed “advance training” and put them through the race and crush every few days with the end result making the cattle very quiet to handle.
The calves had taken their toll on their mothers, but the cows are now looking a lot better,” he said.
At present the Clarkes are running 51 Angus breeders of Moogenilla blood along with 250 second-cross lambs with their mothers being sold due to the dry conditions.
“We join the cows for eight weeks and I also do all pregnancy testing usually in April/May,” Mr Clarke said.
“Before heifers put to the bulls I check each to make sure they’re big enough in the pelvic area and also put them to low-birth rated bulls.
“I can’t remember how long it’s been since we’ve pulled a calf. We just don’t have any trouble at calving anymore.”
The 370 second-cross lambs were also weaned early at 10 weeks of age.
“The tail have since been drafted-off and sold at Wagga,” Mr Clarke said.
“We’ll concentrate on doing a good job on the remaining better end and are fattening at self-feeders on barley, lupins and a 10 per cent protein pellet plus canola hay.
“I’ll shear them in mid-February and then make a call on their marketing after then.”
The Clarkes have also ventured into a self-replacing Merino flock.
“Last June we purchased the complete flock of CentrePlus blood ewes from a Condobolin producer who had sold his farm," Mr Clarke said.
“We have classed the ewes to a nucleus of 300 which we plan to join 200 with Mt Willandry Merino rams and 100 to Border Leicester rams.”
For some years up to the Merino ewe flock purchase the Clarkes ran upwards of 800 Merino wethers as woolcutters.
“The CentrePlus ewes are of 18 micron average and we will be selecting 18 to 19 micron rams from Mt Willandry.”
Mr Clarke said there was a small amount of cropping on Macoma.
“We’ll grow about 200ha of wheat, barley, oats and vetch,” he said.
“Vetch is grown with 10pc oats for hay, but we haven’t had a hay season for two years and buying hay in from April last year.”
Dams on the northern and southern boundaries are full, but those within the middle of Macoma are either empty or near.
“We’ve had those empty dams cleaned, ready for a decent rain event to fill them again,” Mr Clarke said.
“The house dam has been empty since Christmas and we’ve been carting water in for home.”