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Ben Wratten - Mindaroo Station

At Minderoo we function on a one round muster to cut operating expenses. In the last 6 months we had an 84% weaning, so we are happy with how things are operating. The key is being able to wean down to 80 kgs without comprising calf growth, as this stimulates fertility, especially in the higher Bos content cows.

We put the small weaners onto Milne Feeds CalfGro®, a high energy and by-pass protein pellet, with the objective to stimulate rumen development. They must have access to good quality hay. We do this until they get to 140 kgs, by which stage the rumen has the papillae developed and it is functioning efficiently. We find that we can get average daily gains of 1-1.2kgs which is economic at the current prices.

We put 6 bulka bags of Calfgro® into a round self feeder, with a trough and put the calves straight onto the pellet. There is always good hay available. There is never a problem getting the new small calves onto the pellet as they learn from the larger ones that may have been there for 3-6 weeks. We draft the bigger ones out every 3-4 weeks.

While some may spook at the cost of the pellets without knowing the full financial benefits, I find that even if I broke even on the feeding of the calf and we do better than this, we have just stimulated a 25% increase in fertility by taking the calf off the cow and getting her back in calf. Especially with higher Bos cattle, up to 75% struggle to cycle when they have a calf on them. By weaning down to 80 kgs and growing the calf on the pellet, I get these cows active again. The real economic gain of weaning and feeding the calves, is the increased fertility and more calves next muster.

By feeding the calf and developing the rumen we get better feed conversion of paddock feed, but if they go into a feedlot or onto a boat, they will also perform better. I know that the cattle that have been on pellets at some stage in their life are preferred as they know what happens in a trough and they get onto feed sooner. Their developed rumen can make better use of this feed.

Weaning down to 80 kgs and feeding the calves on the high energy, high by-pass protein CalfGro® pellet so that we can operate a single round muster, with higher fertility and good calf growth will continue to be part of what we do at Minderoo.