George & Helen Mulherrin

Top priced weaners in Tenterfield

George & Helen Mulherrin, Tenterfield

 

In March this year, George Mulherrin topped the annual Tenterfield Black Weaner Sales for both steers and heifers for the second time and he attributes his success to his pasture program and overall stock nutrition.

 

According to George, “We are paid on the weight gain of our cattle so we have always had a focus on the quality of our pasture. With the droughts and poor cattle prices over the years, the budget hasn’t stretched to annual fertiliser applications, so for the past 10 years we’ve applied NatraMin every 2nd or 3rd year.

 

We’re improving our country, cattle weights are better, our ground cover has increased and the density of the clover is remarkable. The rain did not come until late December in 2014 but the pasture responded in under a month.”

 

Depending on the paddock and the soil test recommendations, either NatraMin Hi-Phos or Cal-S has been applied, with no paddock having had more than three applications of NatraMin since 2005.

 

Despite a long history of Superphosphate Phosphorus levels remained low at 15ppm. Since using NatraMin (with very little Phosphorus being applied), over a five year period Phosphorus availability has increased to 37ppm.

 

“Despite knowing that we need to invest in our stock and pasture to get returns, due to the recent tough times I had not fed out any mineral supplement to our stock, so our calves were not looking their best just prior to the weaner sales.

 

Based on the advice of Paul Pritchard from AgSolutions, starting the first week in February, I fed out MegaMin Mineral blocks to the cows and calves. In the following six weeks leading up to the sale, the improvement in the cattle was noticeable.

 

There was a marked difference in their coats and colour and winning both the top steers and heifer pens at the March Feature Weaner Sale made it worth the investment. The winning pen weighed an average of 328kg and brought $882/head.

 

We had 270 cows and calves on the MegaMin blocks for 42 days. When I first put them out, the cows and calves ate the mineral blocks quickly, but after the first week or so, they did slow down.

 

Overall, for an investment of $0.97 cents per week for a cow and calf unit (average daily consumption was 90 grams per day) worked out at only $0.30cents per weaner/week or 4 cents per day.

 

Minerals are important and we learnt a valuable lesson in December 2013 when we lost 20 fat cows, ready to calve, to grass tetany, a Magnesium deficiency. Autopsies confirmed this, which was surprising on tropical pastures.

 

MegaMin Mineral blocks are an excellent source for all the minerals which help our cattle to utilise available feed. Next year I will be putting the blocks out by Christmas when the green feed comes through.

 

AgSolutions is always available for soil and livestock nutrition advice and we have found Paul Pritchard’s support invaluable. “