Far from Perfect, but Good Enough

Of the original 30 cows and 30 calves purchased in 2010, 20 calves were heifers. These  were added to the breeding herd in 2012. Thirty calves were born in 2011, 13 of which were heifers. 46 calves are currently with their mothers and , having bought in 9 heifers this year,  72 breeders have been joined with the bulls. I expect there will be 20+ heifers with this current drop who will be joined to the bull in  early 2014. I am anticipating that in 2014 there will be around 100 breeders . I don't know how many breeders I will be able to run. My guess, and this is pretty wild, is to run 200 breeding cows, planned to calve in spring.  Weaning will be in May and all steers will be sold to reduce stock numbers over winter. I plan to run 200 breeding ewes. So by 2015, I expect there to be 400 head of cattle (cows and calves)and 400 sheep( ewes and lambs)

"Dunblane" has a straight fence line that runs the full length of the property, stretching north to south. East of this fence(which I call the front farm) is 200 acres divided into 9 paddocks. All have secure fencing and dams for drinking water. On the west of this "great divide" are four paddocks each around 100 acres. They too are fenced and each has at least one dam.

In 2011 I had no real idea of how planned grazing worked. I moved the cattle through each paddock on the front farm in about 6 weeks. They then ate their way through each of the back paddocks, returning to the starting point after about 14 weeks rest. We also had 600 sheep. 400 were on  agistment from my neighbour and moving  through the back farm. My own sheep numbered 200  and followed the cattle through the front farm. As you can see the grazing was a bit haphazard .

In 2012, my understanding of managed grazing improved. I put all the cattle together in one herd. I also moved the sheep in the same mob as the cattle. The agistment sheep were returned to their owner.  So, in total there were about 120 head of cattle and about 300 sheep. During 2012 I started to understand Holistic Management better, but must say that it is only around Dec 2012 that I really started to get my head around it. This year I plan to be much more effective. I will build more fences as well as use portable  electric fencing to increase the mob effect.

I have taken photos and some soil tests as base line measurements. I have to say that even though I have pretty much done everything very poorly,  I can see clear differences in the pastures. The front farm with smaller paddocks where a form of rotational grazing has taken place,  is distinctly improved when compared to the bigger paddocks where more set stocking has applied.  Take a look for yourself.

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Lesley | Reply 21.04.2013 22:39

Wow! I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog!!! Besides some seriously impressive farming endeavours... I am extremely impressed with your IT savvy😉 lol

Paddy 22.04.2013 09:48

Thanks Lesley. Enjoying the journey. A very steep learning curve.

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29.04 | 03:47

Wow, I lived on the Haye's farmstead for a couple of years, crazy to hear of this fire coming through. Hope I can visit again one day.

15.08 | 11:17

This is all brilliantly documented Paddy - am so totally inspired by how you have transformed Dunblane.

31.07 | 16:36

Hi Peter, exciting indeed. Suggest you contact a Rory O'Leary at BVSC. He is the economic development officer. Big focus on Eden Another farmersnet@fscla.org.au

31.07 | 12:48

Sounds exciting! I'd like to discuss how this might fit in with some other opportunities for the Port of Eden.

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