Host: Blina Station
Written by – Connie Gray, Station Hand, Blina Station.
Hello Central Station,
Today we completed our last Breeder muster for the 2013 season. When we muster our Breeder paddocks we pull in all of the breeding cows, draft off the unproductive breeders (cows that aren’t having or rearing calves), wean any young that are old enough and pull out any old or unproductive bulls.
Our Breeder paddocks can hold cattle numbers ranging from about 500 head through to 1,000 head per paddock. We have 13 breeder paddocks in total and the majority of these paddocks are mustered twice a year. Our stock camp camps out in three different spots over the season and live out of their swags for a couple of weeks per camp. We are pretty lucky at Blina, as a lot of time is saved by mustering with helicopters, the horses, and riders can leave from the station most of the time.
Our normal morning on a muster day starts at about 5am and the horses are brought in and given a feed. They are then loaded on to the gooseneck, the crew pile in to the ‘Mitzi’ (an old mitzubishi truck) and we head out to a pre-designated block up spot to wait for cattle, usually near a water point. A few horsemen are sent out with the helicopter to help them bring in any naughty cattle!!! As the cattle come in, we jump on our horses and ‘block them up’ – pretty much keep them all in a mob and get them nice and quiet, mothered up, ready for the walk to the yards. If we have to walk cattle in the heat of the day, we usually pull up the mob for a “Dinner Camp” for an hour or sometimes two, this gives our horses a blow (rest), and the cattle a rest. This practice becomes very important during the second round, when the weather starts to heat up!!
Once we have all the cattle in a mob and Matt or our head stockman, Dan McCreedy, decide they are ready to move off, the cattle are then walked by horses alone to the yards – this walk can range from 5km to 10km, depending on the paddock. We take great care to ensure we get a nice slow start off, and we block up along the way to ensure the calves stay mothered up and therefore can walk along better. Any calves that are too small to walk along are cut out of the mob and left with their mothers in the paddock.
I believe that working the cattle with horses is such an effective and low stress tool. The Blina cattle are very well educated as weaners and have learnt from a young age to respect the horseman and block up well. Once the cattle are yarded, they are left for a few hours or overnight (depending on when we yard up) so they can cool down and mother up again. We unsaddle, wash and feed our horses, and prepare to process the cattle.