Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Twins Grow Up

December 3rd, 2009.   A day after the due date and Grovenorth Abby calved.   She was in the same paddock as her friend who had produced an attractive heifer three days earlier.   When I saw first one calf and then the other all seemed well until - OH MY GOSH, there's a THIRD calf!   I discovered later that these were the first recorded Miniature Hereford twins in the Southern Hemisphere.   Apparently there had been another set earlier in New Zealand but they had not been registered.   The new little 'un with its mother was a bull so I hoped the other would be as well although I really wanted all heifers.   Out of luck - it was a heifer and probably a "freemartin" meaning it would be sterile (see article about this in the earlier story "Against All Odds").  In this case I found two separate placentas in the paddock so am hoping for the best.

TWO not one and mum makes three.                                           Tea, with milk, for two.

I like to name my calves in some way after their mothers so the bull became Riverlets Abbot (yes, I know  there should only be one 't') and the heifer Riverlets Abbess.   These names were shortened to Abe and Bess.   Abe weighed 22 kg and Bess 23.6 kg which was within the normal range for Miniature Hereford calves in my herd.   Abby was a good mum with plenty of milk so no supplementary feed was necessary nor did we need to take one calf from her to hand rear unlike the bigger Herefords.   Beef cows are really only designed to raise one calf at a time successfully but there are exceptions.   We were already at the beginning of a drought which lasted seven months but Abby cared for her babies all through this without any setbacks to them although by the time they were weaned, at around eight months, she had lost some condition and took longer to get in calf again.

When the calves were a couple of months old I had them dehorned.   Unfortunately this was summertime so we had to watch them carefully for any infection or flystrike with the hotter weather.   Abe did suffer a bit with one side of his head but was easy to handle so came right after a while.   It was simply a matter of keeping the wound clean, applying Wound Powder (a charcoal-based compound available from vets or stock firms) and topping off with Flystrike Powder.   Bess had no such problems.   Abe was very friendly and enjoyed a good scratch or rub but Bess was quite shy.   When scampering by their mother, especially in the evening light, they looked like a couple of rabbits with their bobbing, white-tipped tails.   They thrived then by May started to grow their winter coats, probably anticipating the wet, cold, muddy conditions to come.   With the severe drought there was no grass on which to wean any of the calves so it wasn't until July that the twins could leave Mum for a "greener pasture".   By then they looked like 'woolly little mammoths' according to a not very complimentary friend whereas I thought them round, cute and cuddly!
   Hoppity, skippity off we go with mum.                        Weaned and in their winter woollies.

Eventually there came a parting of the ways with Abe going off to join the bigger weaned Hereford bull calves and Bess into the heifer calf mob.   They mingled very well with their peers, getting used to a different part of the farm and continuing to grow well.   The following October (2010) saw the arrival of two more Miniature Hereford bulls purchased from Ruzak Park Stud, Oamaru, in the South Island.   These lads were a couple of months older than the twins and a bit bigger but that didn't faze Abe in the least.   He proceeded to try and assert domination over Digger but soon gave up and decided they were no threat to him!   I kept the three young bulls together for a while before taking them out to mix with the yearling mob again.   The little guys stuck up for themselves and before long they were all grazing happily together.   All the Herefords, great and small, get virtually the same management on our farm except during the mating or calving seasons when the Miniatures have separate paddocks.   The only difference is that the earlier-maturing minis are calved as two-year-olds while the bigger Herefords wait until they are better matured at three years of age.   This works well.   

        Riverlets Abbott v. Ruzak Park Digger.                                         Three is not a crowd.
It was interesting to contrast the growth of the Miniature Hereford calves with those of their same age group among the conventional Herefords.   The shorter legs and necks of the minis meant that they became more compact while the bigger animals went through a leggy stage before filling out from about eighteen months.   This applied to both heifers and bulls.   Although I prefer not to use my bulls until they are around two years of age one of them went out with a group of cows at seventeen months and got all of them in calf.   He is now running with another group and I am looking forward to seeing what his progeny are like.   The heifers are left until they are about fifteen months old and they calve with little trouble at two years.   The twin heifer was an exception.   She was very small as a yearling so I left her for another year.  

Abe and big Hereford - yearlings.                            Bess and big Herefords - yearlings.  
A puzzling problem with the minis is their tendency to have very dirty tails and hind quarters.   We don't have this to the same extent with the bigger Herefords and are thinking it may be the richness of the grass on our farm.   Herefords are able to forage anywhere but maybe they, the minis in particular, do better with more roughage.   Our farm is high in ryegrass and clover - very few weeds, no kikuyu or rough pasture and the soil tests have shown it to be well nourished.   The answer could be to restrict the minis' access to fresh pasture and feed more hay but that is easier said than done on a farm of this size.   They certainly came through both the drought and the horrible winters in better shape than the bigger cattle and what condition they did lose was recovered in a very short space of time.

 Rich pasture.                                                                  No pasture.                      

Two years have now passed and the twins are moving towards their next adventures.   Bess is with the herd running with Ruzak Park Digger in the hope that she will actually have a calf next Spring.   The two-year-old bulls Abe was with have all been sold so he has been "demoted" to the next mob of yearlings but he is still smaller than they are!   He is possibly going to take a trip to the Deep South to stand as a service bull at aother Miniature Hereford Stud for a couple of years.   He won't be sold as his genetics will be needed back home some time in the future.   Before that he will be tested for BVD (bovine viral diaorrhea) and vaccinated.   His TB clearance is C10 and he has had all other necessary vaccinations.   My cattle will only come from or go to herds which have the same protections as I cannot put either my minis or our larger Herefords at risk. 

Riverlets Abbott aged two.                                                   Riverlets Abbess aged two.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Boomer Creek Miniature Herefords

Australia and New Zealand are separated by the Tasman Sea, affectionately known as "The Ditch" or "The Pond" although the countries are just over 1400 kms apart at the closest points.   Tasmania, a large island off the south-east corner of Australia is where Boomer Creek Farm is found.   It takes its name from the common reference to a male kangaroo as a "boomer" owing to a booming noise heard as it bounds across land at speeds of up to 70 kmph.   Joy and Colin Walters felt this to be an appropriate name for their farm which comprises 400 hectares on the East Coast of Tasmania with beautiful views over Great Oyster Bay leading out into the Tasman Sea.

Since the early 1970s the Walters have had standard sized polled Herefords then around 1994 their neighbour purchased some Lowline cattle of Angus derivation.   Colin and Joy loved the idea of having smaller sized cattle but being "red and white" breeders did some research and discovered Miniature Herefords.   Their first purchase was a recipient cow which produced Boomer Creek Atom and shortly afterwards they purchased a heifer, KT Real Roberta (imported from the USA).   This was the start of their Miniature Hereford herd.

Having always had polled Herefords it wasn't long before the Walters realised this would be a much better option than horned minis but it was a case of "do-it-yourself" as there were no polled minis outside of the States.   Starting in 1999 they followed the American system of using small standard polled Hereford females with a miniature bull.   After considerable searching they eventually found some with frame scores between 4 and 5 and later another one with a frame score of 2 - actually of Classic size.   So began the "breeding down" programme to produce polled Miniature Herefords.

For the first five years it was a very slow process with having to keep the size down as well as eliminating horns and also keeping the breed line different.   It meant using a horned mini bull across standard polls then using a different horned mini bull to establish another line then back across a standard poll to lose the horns.   This could have taken many more years except that in 2004 another Australian breeder imported polled Miniature Hereford embryos from Straitside Ranch in the States from which two heifers and one bull - all homozygous polled - were born.   Sired by SSR Micah (a small mini bull of the LS Mt Nugget 28 line) and out of SSR Miss Misty (an estimated "large" Frame Score 2 as the cows used by the Johnsons to start their breeding programme were in the frame score 1 to 2 range) the bull, Boomer Creek Felix, with a Frame Score of 1, really sped up the polled breeding programme.   With now over 40 progeny, all polled and of Frame Score 1 or less he has become the "foundation sire" of polled minis "Down Under".

                                    SSR Miss Misty - dam of Boomer Creek Felix, a polled
                                    Hereford thought to be at the top end of Frame Score 2

                                       which is not considered Miniature in the States.

                             SSR Micah - a polled Miniature bull, sire of Boomer Creek Felix
                              with a Frame Score at the bottom end of 1.   Micah's sire was a

                                               very small Largent bull, LS Mt Nugget 28.

                                    Boomer Creek Felix, aged six and winner of the Sire's
                                    Progeny Class in 2010.   He has a Frame Score  of 1
                                    and qualifies as a true Miniature as in the States, where
                                    he originated, miniature means size not background.

Normally the Walters run around 50 breeding cows of which 95% would now be Miniature Herefords, mostly polled.   At least twenty of these are homozygous polled and most of them now have three, four and even five generations of Miniature Herefords on both sides of their parentage.   The demand for polled minis in Australia has really taken off as prospective owners/breeders see the big advantage in having no horns to deal with.   Half of the Boomer Creek herd was sold in the last financial year (including horned) with some animals going across Bass Strait to New South Wales and Victoria.   They could have sold more but ran out of available stock!

A big part of promoting Boomer Creek cattle is through showing and the Walters have been very successful even against standard Herefords and other breeds.   The animals are presented immaculately and well trained.

Joy Walters with Boomer Creek Mack - Junior Champion, Grand Champion
and Interbreed Champion bull in 2010.   A grandson of Boomer Creek Felix.

                                     Seven of these polled Miniature Hereford heifers are
                                                          by Boomer Creek Felix.

                                         Good breeding and presentation deserves to win.
                                                Some of Boomer Creek Felix' progeny.

It is thanks to the outlook and perseverance of such Miniature Hereford Studs in the States as Straitside Ranch (Betty and the late John Johnson) and Long Creek (Susan and Ron Himmelberg) plus Boomer Creek (Colin and Joy Walters in Australia) that polled Miniature Herefords have become available for Hereford breed enthusiasts looking for smaller cattle without horns.   For those of us following in their footsteps we can only build on the foundation they have laid - the hard work has already been done.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Against All Odds

In the five years we have been on our new farm the winters of 2007 and 2008 have been the worst we've experienced so far. A wet autumn led into an even wetter winter and conditions for both man and beast were horrendous. At one stage the other half sat up in bed and cried out, "@#%&* all I can see is a sea of mud." He was still asleep!

After a particularly difficult day out on the farm he exclaimed, "Every one of those big hoofprints must hold a litre of water and there is probably now three million litres of water all over the farm."   This led to my 'tongue-in-cheek' remark, "Perhaps we should look at running some Miniature Herefords and see how they and the farm cope."   A long silence greeted this audacious uttering followed by, "That's not such a silly idea."   Thus began my investigation into what Miniature Herefords really were.

Miniature Hereford hoofprint                                             Regular Hereford hoofprint

We have since found that the minis have less impact with their hooves on soft or muddy ground thus causing less pasture damage.   During the wettest times we have fenced off particularly susceptible areas then once conditions improve the minis go into these paddocks first to eat the pasture down.   By the time the ground has dried somewhat and the grass has freshened the bigger cattle can go into these areas without sinking to their bellies as they used to do.

During the 2008 winter we had several sets of twins born on the farm, among them heifer/bull combinations which usually means the female is a sterile "freemartin".   On August 19th we discovered a cow with a very small calf beside her and wondered whether there was another calf somewhere.   We were on top of a steep, slippery hill leading down to a swamp area and it was sheer chance that we noticed movement in the mud below.   Slithering down we discovered another even smaller calf which was so young and deeply buried in the quagmire it could not extricate itself.   A long, hard pull up the hill and we had one hypothermic little bull snuggled into hay on the trailer.   The mother was not interested in him and we then realised the calf with her was a heifer so thought, here's another passenger!

The little heifer grew up with mum while we hand reared her twin bull brother.   Even though we knew the odds were against her being fertile we always give our freemartin heifers a chance to get in calf by running them with a bull alongside their peer group.   Apparently if the placental membranes of the twins are not co-joined in utero within the first month from conception it is likely the heifer will be fertile.   If they are then the blood travelling to both twins carries male hormones which affects the sexual development of the female twin.   A theory is also posed that if the heifer is heavier than the bull then she could be fertile.   It is about a 10 percent chance either way.   In this case the heifer was 26 kgs while her brother was 24 kgs so fingers were crossed.   The following photo was taken of how a bovine chromosomal freemartin is produced in utero where both bull and heifer calves are sharing the placental membranes connecting them with their mother.

Photo reprinted with permission from Dr Robert A. Foster, Department of Pathobiology, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Canada.

The following year the heifer fell victim to a particularly bad attack of facial eczema.   She had been out the back of the farm with the rest of the yearling heifers and we had not been able to get near them for weeks owing to the atrocious conditions which had washed out some crossings.   When they were accessible it was only because this heifer failed to come out of the trees that we realised something was amiss.   Unfortunately it was several more days before we could get her up to our yards and by then she was a mess.   A zinc bolus and a balling gun for administering it was obtained from the local vet and the heifer treated.   It took a long time for her to recover and she ended up with a bald nose which wasn't the best situation for our summers.   Then she started to grow hair over the patches and eventually developed a moustache which covered part of her nose.   We had no idea what internal damage the eczema might have done but kept an eye on her over the following months.   She was always on the small side but already came from a small line of Herefords so we were a bit dubious about running her with a bull at two years of age although we doubted she would either cycle or get in calf.

                                                Riverlands Princess with moustache.

At the beginning of winter, 2011 to our amazement we noticed "Freebie", as we called her, was looking quite rotund and developing a noticeable udder.   On September 15th she calved with no trouble producing a 34 kg bull.   A reprieve for her and relief for us as we don't really like sending young heifers to the Works.   The little guy is doing well as mum has quite a good udder for a heifer and she certainly loves her little boy.

                                                          Princess' little prince.
She will now join the little herd of conventional but small polled Herefords which will be mated to a Miniature Hereford bull as one of the foundation 'matrons' for a polled Miniature Hereford stud.   Hats off to you Riverlands Princess 979 for your courage and determination to make it against all odds.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Small Bull Power

The move from using Hereford bulls over all dairy cows to bringing in Angus and Jersey to use with the heifers has thrown up some interesting observations.  This is because some Herefords are becoming too big for the servicing of dairy heifers with resulting calving difficulties.  Farmers still wanted a dairy/beef calf so turned to using Angus but once again there were calving difficulties with heifers.   The bull of choice then became the Jersey.   This is an advantage if the calves are heifers, especially Friesian/Jersey cross.   Often completely black in colour this dairy cross has been named the "Kiwi" cow and can be a successful addition to the dairy herd.   On the other hand a bull calf sired by a Jersey is a different proposition.   It is usually destined to be a "bobby" calf and has little value unless sold to a calf rearer who plans to on-sell it for use over dairy heifers.  

The breeding of Hereford bulls for the dairy industry is our main "bread and butter" income.   The bulls are sold as two-year-olds to be used over mostly Friesian dairy cows which will then produce the white-faced calf so popular for the beef market.   Occasionally we have leased yearling Herefords for dairy heifers but lately have found they are being superseded by Jerseys with the comment that 'Herefords cause calving problems.'   This should be ringing alarm bells for all Hereford breeders.   The cattle in our herd tend to be slightly smaller on average than those found on most Hereford studs - we like to think of them as more "traditional" in type.   To date there have been no calving problems reported by any dairy farmers using our bulls but the concern remains where heifers are involved.

With all this in mind I began to think out a strategy which could benefit our dairy farmer clientele as well as us.   We normally transport the bulls ourselves so as we visited the different dairy farms I took along a folder of photographs of my Miniature Herefords and started talking.   My first question was, "What breed of bull are you using over your heifers?"   Every response was, "A Jersey."   Second question was "Do you think you get a reasonable return on the progeny of this cross?"   Answers were generally "No" unless heifers were being kept for the herd.   My third question was "Would you prefer a dairy/beef calf if there were no calving problems?"   Answers this time were in the affirmative so this is where I produced my folder of photos.

                      Miniature Hereford bull with yearling Jersey and Friesian/Jersey heifers.

Reactions to the photos ranged from laughter to intrigue but not once were they ridiculed.   We then discussed the benefits of using a Miniature Hereford bull over dairy heifers including the fact that, especially with Friesians, the calves would be white-faced, just smaller but also chunkier and of greater value than a bobby calf.   There are now several dairy farmers considering leasing a mini bull next season to see whether they are a worthwhile option.   The bulls will, of course, be BVD (bovine viral diarrhoea) tested and vaccinated.

        Jersey cow with own calf sired by Mini Hereford bull (left) and Jersey foster bull calf.

 I did not, however, intend using these farmers as "guinea-pigs" so my idea was first carried out on my own small herd of dairy cows.   When weaned, the first dairy/beef calf from a mature Jersey cow was a solid, not-so-little steer which will be ready for the freezer at 18 months of age.

                                     Five months old Miniature Hereford/Jersey steer.

Two of my dairy heifers have calved this Spring to a mini bull.   Once is a full Jersey and she produced a bull calf weighing 29 kgs.

                   Two-year-old Jersey heifer with bull calf sired by Miniature Hereford.

The other is a Friesian/Jersey (Kiwi cow) and she produced a heifer calf weighing 31 kgs.

            Two-year-old Friesian/Jersey heifer with heifer calf sired by Miniature Hereford.

From first noting the heifers were a bit uneasy prior to calving to when the calf was born, washed, on its feet and feeding was within two hours!   This coming season I have an Ayshire/Jersey heifer which will run with a mini bull and a farmer with Friesians is considering leasing a mini bull for his heifers providing I take the calves once they are a week old as he does not wish to rear them.   That will open up another chapter in my strategic planning. 



Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Snow in Northland?   Yes, well it has happened before, in fact, when my Dad was a lad some eighty years ago he told me it snowed at Cape Reinga which is near the northern tip of the North Island.   I wonder which is better - freezing cold winds and snow or freezing cold winds and rain.   Whichever, the Miniature Herefords take it in their short strides.   It's no wonder the little guys started growing very shaggy coats in early autumn.   Perhaps they knew something we didn't.

Plenty in the New Zealand media reports about the "Polar blast" but hey - over in South Australia they were having their own snowstorms.    There's something about a snowy picture on a fine day which leads to the comment "picture postcard" but even on days where the sun is hidden things can look "picturesque" and any of the photos in this story could be that.

The three woolly weaners in this photo belong to a Miniature Hereford  Stud near Oamaru in the South Island of New Zealand.......
while in the other very wintry scene, just north-east of Bathhurst, South Australia the minis are almost invisible under a snow duvet.                                                                         

The bleak side is one which has a wind chill factor which drives down temperatures remorselessly.   Blizzards, like the one in this photo, can really make life uncomfortable for man and beast.

BUT, providing quality feed and good shelter is available the animals can weather almost anything.

If the pundits are right then we are in for an early Spring and some are even saying an early Summer.    Let's
hope there is an in-between time of warmth and gentle rain which allows plenty of grass growth because      
another severe drought on top of all that has happened recently won't earn Mother Nature many friends!  

Thursday, July 28, 2011

All Herefords Great and Small

Following the past season's A & P Shows and an article in a magazine about my Miniature Herefords there has been a steady flow of interest from all walks of life.   Contacts have been made via e-mail, telephone or directly and several have then visited our farm to get a close-up view of the small cattle.   As we also have a conventional Polled Hereford Stud this adds to the enjoyment as there is an obvious comparison of sizes to view.

 With our big Herefords we have what we call a more "traditional" sized herd, the average size being slightly smaller than most which particularly suits our dairy farming clientele.   Among these animals are a few which in America would be classed as "Classics" with Frame Scores of 3 and a couple may well be only FS 2 when mature.   A comment often made about the minis is "They look just like the big Herefords."   Of course they do.   A Miniature Hereford should simply be a small replica of the larger animal but they're all full blood Herefords no matter what their size and, in the case of our herds, pedigreed, registered cattle.

Miniature Herefords are classified by a measurement across the backbone at the hips converted into Frame Score.   The breeding programme to produce miniature sized Herefords was started in the USA in the 1970s and the generally accepted size for these small cattle on reaching maturity at three years of age is 114.30 cm (45 inches) for cows and 121.92 cm (48 inches) for bulls.   That upper limit is known as a Frame Score of 1 but the miniatures can go well down the scale, some having been recorded as FS 0000 - 93.98 cm (37 inches) for cows and 101.60 cm (40 inches) for bulls.   Above the upper height for FS 1 they are classed as "Classics" in the States but on reaching 129.54 cm (51 inches) or more they become known as the Modern, Standard, Regular or Conventional Hereford with frame scores between 4 and 10, the last being extremely tall.   New Zealand does allow slightly larger sized cattle to be classed as miniature but, however great or small, they are all Herefords, not different breeds.   It is only their size which distinguishes the varieties of the one breed.

Both the move toward larger Herefords and smaller Herefords began around the same time.   Eventually it was apparent the really big animals were not coping as well with adverse conditions so overseas there has been a turnaround to downsize them a bit.   The Miniature Herefords have their own problem when becoming too small as there is no longer any meat value and some of them begin to look quite stunted, losing the conformation of the bigger animals.   For me, the ideal size of a Miniature Hereford is between a Frame Score of 00 and 1.   This is where there is the potential of being able to produce a compact, meaty animal, easily managed and less damaging to pasture and facilities.

A problem facing any variety of a breed which is in small numbers is that without a steady source of new bloodlines breeders are restricted to a limited gene pool.   Miniature Herefords face this in that they are a relatively new variety of the Hereford breed stemming from a small selection of foundation animals.   Originally bred by using the smallest regular sized Herefords available then progressively downsizing to what is now recognised as miniature size the herds now rely on introducing new bloodlines by occasionally going back to larger varieties - usually the Classic sizes - then continuing to downsize the progeny.   This is not crossbreeding - it is simply utilising different sizes to achieve the desired end result of miniature size.   All the animals used in such a programme are full blood Herefords and should be registerable as such.


Up to now Miniature Herefords in New Zealand have all been horned although for many breeders the polled variety is preferable.    Owing to the very slow processes involved in importing polled Miniature Herefords New Zealand breeders have to look at how their counterparts in the States and Australia developed their herds and follow suit.    At this stage it basically means using a horned miniature bull over polled standard Hereford heifers which have been selected for their small size and lack of any horns or scurs in their backgrounds.   Unless suitable polled mini bulls can be acquired this is a long term breeding programme over many years but the results are worth it.   All the progeny, regardless of how much miniature or regular genetics they have, are still Herefords with the trademark features.    

The category of "miniature" can be applied once progeny reach a particular size - this can be sooner or later depending on the type of Herefords (big and small) used.   Once that size has been reached then it is a matter of selecting bulls and cows with similar sizes in their ancestry and progressing from there.   Whether they have other varieties of Hereford in their pedigree is irrelevant, unless breeding for the polled factor, as they have all contributed to the eventual miniature size.    The photos in this story are a mixture of regular, Miniature and regular/miniature Herefords.   Great and small, they are the one Hereford breed.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

A Mini Mynah

It flew a curving line up into the clear cold sky.   Without a backward glance.   As free as the bird it is - gone, gone, GONE!   So much for all my nurturing over the previous months.

Earlier in the year my daughter had come running down from the hayshed calling out that there were some baby birds lying injured on the ground.   Ever a sucker for animals in distress I went to investigate.   Three wee blind, featherless chicks of indeterminate breed.   One was dead, one had a twisted leg and the other had crawled several metres out by the driveway.   Back to the house they came and were put into a small box lined with soft cloth and hay.

 Looking at their beaks I realised they were probably meat eaters so mashed up some cat meat with gravy and starting feeding them every half hour.   At night they were put in the hot water cupboard.   In the morning the chirping began as soon as they saw light.   This went on for just over a week before the weaker one with the bad leg died - fortunately perhaps as I didn't think I could mend it.   But as for the other - it thrived.   A tiny bit of Farex was added to its diet then crushed cat biscuits softened with water.   It thrived.   The eyes opened, down appeared on its little body and it would nestle quietly in my hand while feeding.   It thrived.   Feeding times became more spaced out and a bigger box was needed to allow it more room for its gangling legs.   By now it was obvious it was a mynah.

Time passed, the bird grew and real feathers started to appear.   Now it wanted to flap them so it was moved to a large bird cage during the day.   This was put in a spare bedroom so that it could experiment with its wings outside the cage.   As it became more mobile a couple of branches were put in the cage to encourage it to perch.   It began to perch on my hand, then my shoulder and with the full development of its wing and tail feathers it would flutter short distances around the room.The cage was moved back to the garage and came the day that it jumped out and flapped its way clumsily to one of the rafters.   This became a daily exercise for it.   It also delighted in splashing around in a sink of shallow water.

Finally it was time to let my fully feathered friend discover the great outdoors.   By now it would keep flying back to me so I was confident this would continue outside.   Maybe it could help me in the garden by cleaning up all those lovely bugs.   Taking a big breath and with bird on my shoulder I opened the side door to the garage.   A rush of air as it took off and within seconds it had disappeared from sight!   For two days the little bird was nowhere to be seen or heard and I just hoped it had not met with some horrible fate in the form of a hawk, wild cat or even the magpies which frequent the garden.  Then one morning I saw a Mynah fly into a tree up behind our house.   I called it and although it did not respond nor did it fly away.   The next morning the same thing happened but this time I whistled and the bird came down to a tree near me.  

With a bit more cajoling in the form of whistles and talking quietly it eventually alighted on my shoulder.   No mistake.   This was my bird!   Since then, the Mynah has made its home in the garage which it can fly into or out of as it likes.   Although it can fend for itself there is a small dish in the garage which has a daily piece of dog roll meat, some fish-flavoured chook pellets and cat biscuits softened with a bit of water - just as a top up.   Known as Dickeybird or The Vandal, depending on what it is doing the Mynah's curious nature is evident in the way it likes to "get involved" with whatever we are doing.   Nuts and screws get picked up and dropped further away in the workshop, pieces of paper are snatched off a bench and anything hanging loose is fair game.   Visitors are warned that they may find a small passenger suddenly perched on their shoulder or head.  

The bird also likes exploring the various vehicles on the farm..........

and trying to come into the house.

We find ourselves going through a range of emotions with this small addition to the "family" from entertainment to frustration depending on its antics.   Would I do it again - raise an orphan?   Of course.

As they say - a bird in/on/near the hand is worth two/three/or more in the bush.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Know Your Genes

For everyone interested in genetics Southern Beef Technology Services in Australia is running a series of Webinars over six weeks which are free to take part in.   These started on Monday, June 20th, 2011 - New Zealand time 10 pm.

Topics being covered are:

1. DNA Technology - Understanding the Basics
2. Utilising DNA for Parentage Verification
3. Managing Genetic Conditions with DNA
4. Utilising DNA to Change Type Traits
5. Improving Production Traits with DNA
6. Assessing the Cost-Benefit of DNA Technology

The fourth webinar should be of particular interest and use to anyone wanting to breed polled Miniature Herefords.

You can register by going to and clicking onto the Webinar section.

Having already taken part in previous webinars I can recommend these as being well worth attending.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Results of First Virtual Cattle Show For Miniature Herefords - June 2011

With eleven competitors from Australia, the United States and New Zealand and a total of sixty-three entries across the twelve classes this has been a small but successful start to a new type of showing.   There has been enough positive feed back to warrant holding it again next year and it seems the month of June is probably the best time but this will be confirmed.   The programme will be much the same but with a few adjustments to bring it in line with more serious competitions.   There will also be an effort to find sponsors from each of the competing countries who could supply real prizes to the place getters.
A common comment was the appreciation of being able to view Miniature Herefords of similar ages in the different countries.   This gives current and aspiring breeders new ideas for developing and improving their own breeding programmes.   A sharing of experiences is always helpful.
Results of the twelve classes are:
Class 1 -  Senior Cow 3 yrs and over with calf/calves at foot

             2nd - SS Miss Elizabeth and calf.

1st AMH Babette and calf.
3rd - Grovenorth Abby and calf

1st - AMH Babette and calf.   Julie Stott, New South Wales, Australia.
2nd – SS Miss Elizabeth and calf.  Charlotte and Steve Williams, Texas, USA
3rd – Grovenorth Abby and calf.  Janet Poole, Northland, New Zealand

Class 2 - Junior Cow 2 yrs with/without calf/calves at foot

1st - WW Golden June                                                              2nd - AMH Doretta   

3rd - Boomer Creek Katie and calf         

1st  - WW Golden June.   Charlotte and Steve Williams, Texas, USA
2nd – AMH Doretta.  Julie Stott, New South Wales, Australia
3rd -  Boomer Creek Katie and calf - Joy Walters, Tasmania, Australia
Class 3 – Yearling Heifer

                1st - Boomer Creek Marilyn                                         2nd - Riverlets Sparkler


                                                          3rd - O5's B=Day Joy
1st -  Boomer Creek Marilyn - Joy Walters, Tasmania, Australia
2nd – Riverlets Sparkler – Janet Poole, Northland, New Zealand
3rd - 05’s B=Day Joy – Charlotte and Steve Williams, Texas, USA

Class 4 – Heifer Calf

1st - WW Tinker Bell

                                                                                                   2nd - Ruzak Park Kraka      

3rd - Grovenorth Delilah       

1st – WW Tinker Bell – Charlotte and Steve Williams, Texas, USA
2nd – Ruzak Park  Kraka -  Carole Steele, Oamaru, New Zealand
3rd – Grovenorth Delilah – Alistair Hargrove, Northland, New Zealand

Class 5 – Senior Bull 3 yrs and over

1st - Baringup Billy the Kid                                                        2nd - Boomer Creek Jonno


                                                              3rd - Boomer Creek Jumbo

1st - Baringup Billy the Kid - Jennie Menzies, NSW, Australia
2nd Boomer Creek Jonno – Joy Walters, Tasmania, Australia
3rd – Boomer Creek Jumbo – Julie Stott, NSW, Australia

Class 6 – Junior Bull 2 yrs

             1st - WW Sam's Gold E                                                 2nd - Ensedemash Energy

1st – WW Sam’s Gold E – Charlotte and Steve Williams, Texas, USA
2nd – Ensedemash Energy – Janet Poole, Northland, New Zealand

Class 7 – Yearling Bull

                2nd - WW Tom Thumb

1st - Boomer Creek Lyle

                                                        3rd - Ruzak Park Digger

1st – Boomer Creek Lyle – Joy Walters, Tasmania, Australia
2nd – WW Tom Thumb – Charlotte and Steve Williams, Texas, USA
3rd – Ruzak Park Digger – Janet Poole, Northland, New Zealand

Class 8 – Bull Calf

1st - Boomer Creek Impact                                     2nd - WW Prince William

                                                       3rd - Riverlets Patrick

1st – Boomer Creek Impact – Joy Walters, Tasmania, Australia
2nd – WW Prince William – Charlotte and Steve Williams, Texas, USA
3rd – Riverlets Patrick – Janet Poole, Northland, New Zealand

Class 9 – Group Entry

                  2nd - Group of Bulls and Heifers

1st - Family Trio                                                                                                                     

                                                          3rd - Frodo and Friends

1st – Family Trio – Julie Stott, NSW, Australia
2nd – Group of Bulls and Heifers – Jennie Menzies, NSW, Australia
3rd – Frodo and Friends – Joy Walters, Tasmania, Australia

Class 10 – Scenic Photo including Miniature Herefords


                                                     1st - Cattle in Bushland



                                              2nd - Cattle near the seaside

3rd - Cattle in Hill Country
1st – Cattle in Bushland – Jennie Menzies, NSW, Australia
2nd – Cattle near the seaside – Joy Walters, Tasmania, Australia
3rd – Cattle in the Hill country – Janet Poole, Northland, New Zealand

Class 11 – Entertainment with Miniature Herefords

1st - "Go ahead, make my day!"     

2nd - "Wonder how much bull power this has?"                3rd -  "Watch my tail!"

1st - "Go ahead, make my day!" - Ruth Blaikie, Northland, New Zealand
2nd – “Wonder how much bull power this has?” – Julie Stott, NSW, Australia
3rd – “Watch my tail!” – Charlotte and Steve Williams, Texas, USA

Class 12 – Viewers’ Choice

       1st - Miniature Hereford Enthusiasts                               2nd - Never too young to start

3rd equal - Four Young Ladies                                                    Mother and Child

Evening Supper
1st – Miniature Hereford Enthusiasts – Kirstie Kasch, Texas, USA
2nd – Never too young to start – Charlotte and Steve Williams, Texas, USA
3rd Equal – Four Young Ladies – Alistair Hargrove, Northland, New Zealand
                    Mother and Child – Julie Stott, NSW, Australia
                    Evening Supper – Jennie Menzies, NSW, Australia

A big thank you to all who took part, all who helped organize and run the event, the Judges and all who gave us useful feedback for another show.   For those of you who would like to compete next year start taking photos now.   A hint from the Judges was that three photos comprising side view, front and rear made their job easier as they had a more ‘complete’ picture of the animal.   The schedule of classes can be seen on with minor alterations shortly.   If the numbers grow we may have to look at running Regional, National and then a final International Virtual Show with place getters from each going on to the next competition.
Remember, it is open to anyone who is a Miniature Hereford enthusiast providing you meet the entry criteria for the classes.