Payday for a grazier

Host: Mystery Park

Written by – Tess Camm, Owner, Mystery Park.

As a grazier, paycheques are few and far between, and most commonly result from the sale of livestock. This time of year is our ‘dry season’, and is often signified by slower sales and less demand for cattle. The market will bounce back as soon as the season does, demand for cattle is dictated by supply of grass – that’s the basis of beef economics!

So when a livestock agent called saying he had a buyer, we jumped to action preparing a suitable line for him to inspect. With the suitable cattle diluted throughout two larger mobs, we ran the horses in early and saddled up.

2_1It’s ‘saddle up’ o’clock.

This morning’s muster lets us kill two birds with the one stone for these mobs contain cattle sold a week or so ago, and destined for trucks that are arriving at lunch time. With an early start on our side, we were able to walk the cattle home to the yards before the heat of the day set in.

2_2The cattle walk home easily before the day gets too hot.

Cattle tend to work through the drafting process better if they are allowed a short break and ‘cool down’ period after being mustered to the yards. A smoko break also makes for a happier drafting team! So we rode up the hill to the house for some fresh cake and a cool drink, we’ve well and truly earned it this morning.

‘The field doesn’t get ploughed by just thinking about it’ is an old saying, and the same theory applies to drafting cattle, so we pull on our boots and don on hats before getting back to work. Drafting cattle is an activity I thoroughly enjoy. It’s the perfect opportunity to observe the cattle as individuals, rather than the herd you see as you muster. The close proximity lets you inspect their body condition, growth, presence of parasites, stage of maturity or pregnancy for females, and overall health of the animal.

It’s also a great chance to work on your own skills as a cattleman too. Questions like ‘how are the cattle behaving?’, ‘do I need to use more pressure or less?’, ‘am I pressuring the best position on the animal?’ always run through my mind as I draft. The more observant you are, the more the cattle can teach you about where you should be.

2_3A B-Double, or three decks of steers loading.

The cattle yards are a dusty place to be in the dry season, so when we spotted the cattle truck rolling down the road it was a welcome sight indeed! We all took a break from the dust and jumped in to get the truck loaded, amazing how much motivation we can muster when there is only one task standing in the way of lunch!

Refuelled and ready, we drafted the remaining cattle in no time at all. The stock agent and potential buyer arrive soon after and inspect the cattle. Unfortunately a sale did not eventuate, but at least the cattle are separate and easily accessible for the next potential buyer. The days are getting longer, so we stretch the light to the limit and return all the cattle to pasture tonight. Poor Adelaide’s four year old legs are plum worn out from kicking her trusty steed Holly along all afternoon!