Queensland beef producers heard the latest tips and tricks on best practice weaning at a series of weaning acclimation workshops this month.
Herefords Australia, with support from Meat & Livestock Australia and Coopers Animal Health, hosted the weaning acclimation field days at Taroom and Calliope.
The workshops were facilitated by feedlot veterinarian Lachlan Strohfeldt, Bell Veterinary Services, Qld.
Weaner handling and vaccination practices have already been showcased to hundreds of producers at Herefords Australia sponsored days in South Australia, Victoria and NSW.
Peter, Susan and Alex Sparkes hosted a field day at Hornet Bank on June 9 while Will and Katie Wilson, Calliope Station, hosted a field day on June 10.
Mr and Mrs Wilson yarded Hereford-Brahman cross mixed sex weaners, eight to 10 months, for the demonstrations.
“The cattle were on their day one to three weaning and induction process,’’ Mr Wilson said.
“The field day was attended by 24 commercial breeders, with many interested in the low stress handling techniques.’’
Mr Wilson said it was critical to educate and socialise the calves during yard weaning.
He spends five to seven days yard weaning calves.
“I give the weaners hay of a similar quality to the pasture they have come out of to ensure good rumen function,’’ he said.
“The rumen is undergoing enough change when coming off milk so I don’t like to change rations too drastically.’’
The couple run 5500 breeders split into two nucleus herds of Hereford and Brahman.
Hereford bulls are joined to Brahman cross cows, and Brahman bulls to Hereford cross cows.
The progeny are aimed at the feeder, slaughter and live export markets.
A contractor is used to educate the cattle through the yards during weaning.
“Dogs are introduced on day five to move the cattle through the yards as a group with as little pressure as possible,’’ Mr Wilson said.
“We take our steers on to 460kg or 600kg to fit the slaughter or live export market.
“We have used the Hereford influence for a long time because of temperament and weight gain.’’
Mr Wilson said the Hereford cross animal offered improved eating quality and MSA compliance, with the flexibility to meet various markets.
“It is a real struggle here to find a happy medium for meeting the northern and southern markets,’’ he said.
“The softer animals go to the slaughter boats but the others go into the feeder market while the softer females earn a 10-15c/kg premium through the (supermarket trade).’’
Mr Wilson said the weaning acclimation field day presented producers with different options for cattle handling.
“It’s really all about getting people able to handle change,’’ he said.