Host: Wongawol Station
6 am- time for the the sale cattle to go on to a road train to take them from the station to the farm down south. At the farm they will be grown out on pasture and grain for the domestic and live export markets.
One of the Mitchells Transport drivers preparing the truck for loading.
This truck was 5 ‘decks’. That means there are 3 double decker carriages pulled behind the truck. You might think that 3 x double deckers = 6 decks, but actually it is 5. This is because the middle carriage is shorter than the other carriages, half the size actually. Therefore, both decks in the middle carriage = just one deck, not two. So its 4 whole decks + 2 half decks = 5 decks. You can see it in the picture above…
Anthony waiting for the truck cattle to walk through a gateway using ‘low stress stock handling’ methods. Once cattle are doing what you want them to do (aka these ones were already walking through the gateway) you should back off the pressure you are putting on them (aka stop movement and noise, and don’t stand too close to them). If you keep moving or making noises, then you might distract them or put too much pressure on them, and bugger up what you are trying to achieve (we all have had that moment where we don’t back off the pressure at the right time and cows start running left, right and centre, and then the ones through the gateway turn around and come back! fun times… not!).
Counting the cattle as they load onto the truck. The Mitchells transport truckies are pretty cool in that they can look at the pen of cattle, and judging by their size, they can tell you exactly how many cattle they need per deck, or per compartment within each deck.
It is best to try and count out only the number of cattle you need when loading a truck. This is because you want the cattle to flow onto the truck from the moment you start moving them out of the ‘force yard’ (a small pen before the race, the race is a laneway where cows can only move in single file). If you load up the race, and have the cows all standing in single file waiting to go onto the truck, they can fidget, climb over eachother, or turn around. So when we load a truck we want the cows to walk out of the force, into the race and straight onto the truck. We don’t want to have them pre-loaded in the race.
However, if you need 10 head of cattle, and you load 15 into the race, then you will have 5 left over. Then you have a slight dilemma on your hands… while the truckie is locking the cattle you just loaded into their compartment on the truck, those extra 5 cattle could either be sitting in the race fidgeting, maybe even trying to back out of the race… or you could let them back into the pen.
If you have to let the cattle back into the pen, you are effectively reducing your chances of getting them to walk up the race again. It’s like saying “here moo cow, please walk up and down this narrow laneway repeatedly”. Well, it might not be repeatedly, but if the same cow somehow ends up being let back into the pen a couple of times in a row, it is probably going to get confused and think “gee do you want me to move up here or not??”.
So to cut a long explanation short, that is why you should try and count out the number of cattle you need each time, although that is much easier said than done!
Loading the cattle from the force pen into the race way.
This is a NLIS tag (National Livestock Identification System). This is an electronic tag required to be in all cattle once they are transported off of their place of birth, to ensure full traceability throughout the supply chain. Whenever livestock are moved from property to property (e.g a cow going from farm to feedlot, or the feedlot to abattoir, or from the farm to the Royal Show etc.) their movements are recorded (sort of like those people who check in absolutely everywhere they go on facebook!).
Silhouette of a steer with a nice set of horns. I took this picture using the iphone app ‘Camera +’
Here is Matt the German looking out at the processed cattle to see what he has achieved for the day. Matt girlfriend Caroline has her own blog which you can see here.
Anthonys hat is full of character and has earned every little bit of dirt on it.
A lovely Brahman heifer.
Hotel de Wongawol, room service… Fresh hay, I imagine it is much yummier than saltbush and spinifex!
A cute, yet snotty nose.
Cute little bull, I’m partial to anything with a bit of Bos Indicus in it!
and again… if it looks half Brahman… I’m sold!
Silly small bull standing in the water trough! I emptied it, walked away to empty another one and when I came back here he was! He stood in here for a good 5 minutes too while I took pictures and videos of him, cute little boy!
Snoozing and sunbaking time for the medium sized bulls.
Mum and bub having a nap.
A little bull missing a chunk out of his ear thanks to wild dogs.
Anthony welding up some gates in the yards.
Then it was my turn to weld on some new hinges/ gates.
Hay ready and waiting to be eaten by sunset.
Nom nom nom nom nom!!
“it wasn’t me!”