Sunday, April 2, 2017


Autumn - my favourite time of the year.   Cool mornings and evenings, summery days and the changing of the colours in the garden.   This year we are having a true Autumn for a change made all the nicer with the drought having broken and the grass growing.   We are still having to feed out hay, though, as there isn't quite enough substance in the grass as yet but the stock are doing well.

We don't wean either our big or small Hereford calves until they are around eight months of age and then only if there is good pasture ahead of them.   All their vaccinations were completed by the time they were three months old but some breeders prefer to wait until weaning time.   If you do, then this is the time to get them done so that the calves have good protection once they have left their mothers.   In the past we have used the 5-in-1 vaccine but having lost two or three calves this season for no apparent reason we are going to try the 10-in-1 vaccine next season and see if that improves matters.

When my calves are weaned they have meal and chaffage products available along with molasses and mineral blocks.   There are many choices a breeder can make which are available from stock firms but check what ingredients are in them.   They also get hay as the new grass growth tends to make them a bit runny at the rear end!   We drench our calves a couple of weeks after weaning them to prevent worm build-up plus deal with some external parasites.   Lice are present at all times of the year but they tend to prefer the thicker coats the animals are building up for winter.

These cooler months are well suited to undertake
any de-horning or castrations if they weren't done when the calves were muchyounger.   Remember, though, that shelter mustbe available in case rain comes unexpectedly.
The calves can either have a local anaesthetic in
the horn area or be completely anaesthetised.   The
horn has to be completely removed and this should
involve removing the hair in a circle around them -
sometimes called the 'ring of confidence' except
toothpaste is not being used!   Failure to do this
can result in the horn re-growing often in a very
deformed condition which is both unsightly and
Providing there is good pasture ahead of them supplementary feeding can be gradually phased out leading up to Winter with the weaners going into the colder months in good condition and not likely to lose weight.   Make sure tails are trimmed with any dags cleared away and ears can also be trimmed so that their tags can be easily read in the paddock.

Friday, March 24, 2017


It is far too long since I published something on this site.   Something always seemed to get in the way but really I should have been making regular posts to keep up to date.

Since the last post, my herd of minis has grown so that now there are around sixty of them if you count cows, calves and bulls.   It has got to the point where I have to take my paddock book out with me to identify some of them!   This is especially when two or more may look so alike once they are mature.   Ear tags are helpful but only if the ears are kept trimmed.   I have bought in a few more, mostly females and sold one or two to other breeders or as culls to the Works.   We had another drought this summer so this photo shows some of the twenty-five cows and calves having their daily feed of supplementary hay.

Two years ago I decided it was time to take a hard look at what I had and sort out which were to stay and which were to go. Unfortunately Mother Nature must have been looking over my shoulder and decided to take a hand  so that I ended up with a catastrophic calving season losing ALL the heifer "mini" calves.   I also lost two lovely first calvers.   This made the decision to not calve them until they are three year olds as we do with our standard polled Herefords.   They just are not mature enough and I have been very lucky with the results from the previous four years of breeding.

The original goal was to build up to at least fifty breeding cows but that has now been revised down to around thirty unless I can acquire more land.   At present there are, I hope, twenty-six.cows in calf for next Spring.   Two other goals have been to develop an entirely polled herd and to get the coat colours much darker.   This is slowly being achieved with the use of two imported polled bulls from the USA.   First was KNF General Stan Watie then a few years later Diamond S Starbuck.   Quite a few polled calves have been born to both these bulls and there are others sired by sons of those bulls.

KNF General Stan Watie                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Diamond S Starbuck

Both Stan Watie and Starbuck are heterozygous polled, i.e. only carry one polled gene.   Since acquiring Starbuck four years ago from Robert Watts of Diamond S Herefords, Kennewick, Washington State, I have been working with breeders in the USA to find more polled Miniature Hereford bulls.   Two homozygous polled (carrying both polled genes) bulls have finally been selected from the herd of Betty Johnson of Straitside Ranch, Sequim, Washington State as suitable for the herds in New Zealand.   With arrangements for importing straws well in hand these should be available for use in October of this year (2017).   There are also a couple of homozygous polled bulls in Australia I am keeping my eye on.   All this variety of genetics can only benefit our Miniature Hereford herds.   Over fifty per cent of the latest crop of my calves, born in Spring, 2016, are polled which is very pleasing.   It will reduce the vet. bills, too, when there are fewer to be dehorned!