Weaner work

Host: Meda Station
Written by Troy Haslet, Manager – Meda Station

(This is part 3 of a 3-part series. Click here for part 1, and here for part 2).

On Meda, weaners are stockpiled and fed hay while we get through a few breeder paddocks. When we finish those musters, it’s time to start processing them. There are three main steps we do while processing weaners and these are: tailing, branding, and walking out.

The term “tailing” means walking the weaners around to educate them to the process of walking as a mob and to teach them manners such as blocking-up (stopping when asked to, by horsemen). We do this so that once they are let out into a paddock and re-mustered the next year the weaners have been taught how to react when they see horsemen.

We will move the weaners back and forth through the yard to get the initial foundations of blocking-up sorted. Using the yard means we only have to worry about the lead and tail of the mob and if it all goes to custard they are only in the yard and easy to get back together, rather than if they were out in the paddock.

Walking weaners.

Once the weaners have started to pull up when asked, we will then open the gates and slowly walk them out. The first hour or so is more or less walking for a 100-odd meters and blocking up for a bit and so on, until the weaners have learnt that when a horse faces them up they are to stop.

After the blocking-up and work which allows us to have a good handle on the weaners is completed, they will start to get walked around and let out out to graze while being held by the horseman. At the end of the day they are yarded back up, ready for branding the next day. I believe this is a very important step in educating our cattle and setting them up to be well behaved for years to come.

Blocking up weaners.

This is also a good time for the breakers (freshly broken-in horses) to be worked. Because it is mostly slow work it gives the young horses a chance to think about what they are doing and helps them get ready for harder and longer work of mustering breeders.

Yarding up weaners.

When it comes to branding there is usually a 50/50 split of branded cattle (branded as calves in our second round of mustering the previous year) and clean skins which where born after the second round. They are run up a race and everything is vaccinated then branded weaners are let go and the cleanskins go into the branding cradle. They are earmarked, branded, tagged, castrated and dehorned. All dehorned weaners are given a penicillin shot to stop any infection.

A branded weaner.

The next morning the weaners are walked out to a close paddock where they will be stockpiled with other weaners that come from the rest of the breeders. Then in the middle of the year they are mustered and put out to bigger paddocks on the river until next year. This is when we sell our steers, heifers and draft off our replacement heifers for the breeder program.

Blocking weaners up in new paddock.

The helicopters will arrive again and we will do another swing of 10 to 12 days of mustering and drafting breeders until all the breeder paddocks are finished.