Summer 2017-18 can only be described as a stinker! Day after day of 36ºC + and some nights where the temperature only dropped down to a balmy 27ºC. And this is the Southern Highlands, the land of green pastures, pleasant days and cool evenings in Summer. We would be forgiven for thinking we’d moved to White Cliffs ( no offence, White Cliffs, it’s just that out there you know what to expect in Summer.) This was topped off with well below average rainfall and days of hot westerly winds. The result, pasture stopped growing around Christmas and steadily dried off. This lead to one big problem – hungry cattle. Even though Herefords are considered good ‘doers’ they were starting to lose some condition.
Our survival strategy was to become ‘opportunistic agisters’. We knew some friends had over grown areas that were difficult to get a slasher into so we put half the herd to work. We set up electric fencing and gradually moved along the overgrown area. Its been a win-win, the herd is happy, the friends are happy, the area is getting back into manageable shape and the cattle have put on weight.
We also knew people with an unused olive grove with grass between the trees up to your knees, so in went some of our mini Herefords and as it didn’t matter if the trees got knocked a bit we had another opportunity working well. As the minis are smaller they haven’t done any great damage to the trees, so who knows now the olive grove is being cleaned up the olive trees might be used again.
Finally, we had to find somewhere for our two young bulls, Monty and Major Tom ( they are for sale by the way.) Our neighbour who grows apples and hazelnuts had a back paddock with a dam and dodgy fences, so we helped fix the fences and the bulls have been there all summer enjoying a gourmet diet of apples, corn stalks and general orchard left overs in between keeping the paddock under control. We suspect that our neighbours may not want to give the bulls back as they’ve become mini Hereford pets.
That just left our place with a few cows and calves and the bull, Stuart. With some additional hay and reduced pressure on our paddocks we’ve come through a nasty hot, dry summer looking OK.
What we have had reinforced is that mini Herefords, like their big cousins are genuine ‘doers’ they forage, they make do, they are adaptable and most importantly they look in great condition and so do the four properties we were able to use over summer.