A Day in the life of a Grazier

We have been farmers for about 20 years; before that we both worked and lived in the city so it has been a steep and long learning curve. Our property is in Horse Country 45kms from Scone in the Upper Hunter Valley, but we have no horses, just cattle.

We breed Wagyu cattle( Japanese cattle) mainly for export and we have a herd of black Angus cows and Wagyu bulls to produce young cattle for the market.

Today was chilly but with no frost like yesterday so we set off on a quad bike and ute to muster cattle.

First job was to check on a Wagyu bull that has been ostracised by the others; they keep tossing him out of their paddock so he roams around by himself. We are going to truck him to a smaller block we have where he can have all the cows to himself and he will be in clover…literally.

Then I drive to the nearby cell centre. We practice cell gazing which means that we divide the paddocks up into 100 acre cells with a central watering point and leave them there for maybe a week depending on the weather and rain events.

When it is time to move, I blow a whistle and they respond in a classic Pavlovian manner. I open the gate and the cows and calves stream through to the next cell where there is fresh green pick. This method, with no dogs or horses and just one person, originated in Zimbabwe and it is a stress free way of handling cattle.

Then I join my husband further down the road as he musters a paddock of steers (males) and heifers(females) on the Quad bike. They stream through the gate and up the road and we both push them gently towards home and the yards where they are to be weighed.

After some logistical problems and stubborn refusal, they finally move down to the gates and into the yards. They are pushed in two lots towards the loading area and race which leads to the weighing scales. We have learned from past incidents ( and injuries) how to manage this and now we have a ratchet system of gates so we are never too close to the animals if they kick or suddenly turn.

They queue down the race and then we let the first one onto the scales and the recording begins. We have tested the scales beforehand by one of us jumping on and sometimes this is a bit of a shock especially after an overseas trip and too many restaurant meals, especially the pork knuckle in Prague!

We cut the tails of those that meet the weight and draft off those that are a bit lighter and who will go back on the oats we have planted.Then they are taken in two groups back to the paddock for a few more weeks of feed until the B double truck arrives.

Time now for a cuppa.