Resources and Information:
Highly Recommend: https://grdc.com.au/spray-drift
CSIRO Book - Spray Drift Management (downloadable as PDF) https://www.publish.csiro.au/book/3452/
Hot Topics - 'Spray Drift'
What is your understanding of spray drift, some of the problems it is causing?
A short video from Agriculture Victoria featuring farmers who understand both sides of the issue, with stories to help you to think carefully about spray drift.
From Grain Research and Development Corporation: November 2020 - Preventing off-target spray drift Physical and inversion drift can move product away from a spray target and cause significant yet unintended crop damage. This animation explains the factors that can cause physical and inversion drift and shares the key best management practices for growers.
Resources and Information:
Highly Recommend: https://grdc.com.au/spray-drift
CSIRO Book - Spray Drift Management (downloadable as PDF) https://www.publish.csiro.au/book/3452/
A presentation by Dr Greg Moore entitled “Trees are major assets as the climate changes”, at the BSFG General Meeting 7pm on Wednesday 22nd February, at the Benalla Uniting Church in Carrier St. Dr Moore is a regular presenter on Melbourne radio stations ABC 774 and 3AW on all things arboricultural. He was Principal of Burnley Horticultural College from 1988 to 2007, and has served on a number of important environmental Boards, such as Trust For Nature and Greening Australia, as a member and Chair over many years. Much of Dr Moore’s work has been involved with arboriculture, particularly in the areas of streetscape and landscape design, and you will see from the title of his presentation, his research work over many years has determined just how important trees are in our landscapes.
Graeme Hooper thought he would be a dedicated winter cropper on the family farm at Goorambat, but has increasingly dedicated himself to the Southdown sheep breed, his father established in 1928.
In that year his 15 year old dad, bought stud Southdown ewes at a Telford sale, to withering comments from other buyers that he was too young to know enough.
Nearly a century later, the Hooper's Clear Hills stud, sells towards 100 rams at an annual auction, for an average of better than $1500 each. Some Charollais cross rams, another breed at Clear Hills, maybe becoming Graeme's favourite when crossed with Southdowns, sell for about $2500 each.
A telling story for Stock and Land participants was when Graeme said his father was almost imprisoned during WWII, for wanting to join the army. Twice he was rejected, the second time with a warning that if he tried again, he would be incarcerated. The reason: he was a talented shearer and was desperately needed to keep wool flowing into soldier's uniforms.
Pioneer John Hooper settled in Goorambat towards the end of the19th century; the latest Hoopers, three grandsons of Graeme's, are the fifth generation there. “Hopefully at least one of those will carry on with the stud sheep,” Graeme said.
Commercial Southdowns are at Clear Hills too and the Hoopers sell half lambs, ready to cook, for about $250 each.
The guest speaker at Stock and Land on Tuesday 7th February from 10am to 12 midday will be Graham Hooper from “Clear Hills Southdowns” sheep stud at Goorambat. The Hooper family have farmed at Goorambat for five generations, since 1928.
The critical national shortage of farm harvest labour, was highlighted by our December speaker, strawberry grower Nina Meiers.
Nina and partner Andrew grow 15,000 certified organic strawberry plants on raised beds beside Lake Nillahcootie, at Barjarg.
But production is enormous and each plant produces 180 to 200 strawberries, with the harvest season starting early last month.
However Nina told us, with only three full time pickers, she and Alan could only actually market about 20 per cent of the fruit they produce.
But she could not speak highly enough, of their three Pacific Islander employees, who are paid $39 an hour for their work.
Nina said if they could attract enough pickers, each acre of strawberry production would enable them to gross about $200,000.
Thanks to samples provided by Nina, S&L attendees were able to vouch for the superior quality of what are branded Bimbimbi strawberries.
The speaker for 10am next Tuesday, 6th December, is Nina Meiers of Bimbimbi Farm, Barjarg, about 45km south of Benalla and close to Lake Nillhacootie. She and partner Andrew, moved there from Melbourne seven years ago, to grow organic fruit and vegetables using regenerative methods. They are currently picking strawberries and group participants will probably have the opportunity to taste the fruits of their efforts. All welcome!
October - Horst Gunther
Controlling excess water bookended the farming career of our 89 year old October speaker Horst Gunther.
An obsession with excess H2O started in his mid-teens farm apprenticeship in northern Germany’s marshy Friesland, where keeping 800mm of annual rainfall under control, with drains and canals, was all important.
Fast forward to 1980 when he bought land at Pyramid Hill and flat salty soil had to be periodically flushed and a high saline water table kept under control. An initially blackberry infested 260acre farm near Glenlyon intervened.
Two of Horst’s sons continue cropping and grazing on now much enlarged Pyramid Hill farms, where irrigation water was all the go, but is largely now too expensive. But years of laser grading to ensure efficient irrigation and getting water on and off the soil quickly, has paid huge dividends. Saline subsoil water is now more than 2m down the soil profile, Horst said.
Horst now greatly enjoys retired life in Violet Town and tutors U3A’s hugely successful advanced German course every first Tuesday.
The Stock and Land group is taking a break on Cup Day on the first Tuesday in November, but will meet again on the 1st Tuesday in December for the final session of the year. .
John Paul Murphy, a young farmer running a family beef property between Winton and Lurg, spoke to our group in September.
He said the 1450 acre farm, owned by the family since 1985 and once owned by Benalla legend Laurie Ledger, carried about 300 head of beef cattle.
John Paul said he and his family aimed for the farm to be carbon neutral by 2030 and they had planted trees to cover 10 percent; the aim is for at least 20 percent cover with a 20 to 40m wide tree band around the boundary.
He said the farm was an important Winton Wetland tributary and after WW1, had been a series of dairy farms, later consolidated by Laurie.
John Paul said he took over management of the farm from his father John in 2017 and said the greatest challenge was in maintaining grass cover. Rotational grazing was essential and this year running 65 bullocks for two days on 12 acres, had worked better in achieving that, than last year running about the same number for the same period on half that area.
John Paul Murphy pictured during Pregnancy Testing, late August, 2020
(refer David's story 'I came down with a thud...')
August - 'Rural crime prevention'
Farm crime was the focus of Acting Sargent Ross Plattfuss’s talk to the August session of Stock and Land. He is a farm crime liaison officer based in Benalla and at one time a dairy farmer at Blighty near Deniliquin. He much prefers his current job.
Ross said four wheel motorbikes were particularly attractive to thieves as were chainsaws and spotlights. Fuel theft was now fairly unusual because more farmers had moved to effectively secure their fuel tanks.
At the same time, firearms are regularly stolen from farms. To more generally secure firearms, firearm safes made of thicker steel, had recently become mandatory.
Ross came to the meeting wearing his usual 10kg of equipment including a video camera, firearms, radio, pepper spray, handcuffs and body armour.
Ross told the group that, in general, Benalla mostly reported fairly low level crimes, like drug taking, family violence and youth crime, particularly involving 14 and 15 year old males.
Victoria Police has produced a brochure outlining security measures farmers should implement. Part of the brochure is a 55 point checklist to work through to minimise rural crime.
Our speaker on Tuesday 6 September is John Paul Murphy from ‘Woolleen’,a cattle property at Winton which incorporates some elements of regenerative farming.
Varroa mite threat
The dreaded varroa mite arriving at Newcastle and attacking Australian bees, aligned with our July beekeeper speaker Warwick Bone.
Until a few weeks ago Australian bees had been free of this pest but suddenly it was sighted and suspected all around Newcastle.
Warwick said its impact on bees was horrific, because translated into human terms, a varroa mite on a bee, was equivalent to something the size of a rabbit attached to the back of a person’s neck, sucking blood.
He said an immediate problem, was being able to transport enough Australian bees to pollinate almond trees around Mildura for six weeks over early spring, to ensure a crop. And bees don’t like almond trees much anyway, Warwick said. Just like endlessly eating chocolate.
But he was really with us to talk about permaculture and holistic grazing which he said was all about good design. A key to that is doing what huge herds of wild grazing animals in Africa do, which is heavily graze a small area quickly, move on and not return to that area until every plant there has had a chance to regrow.
That means useful plants get as much chance to recuperate as weeds. An example he gave was 4500 acres divided into 30 acre paddocks near Holbrook, carrying 2500 head of cattle. The farmer moves all the cattle to one new paddock every day which means each paddock has 150 days to recuperate.
Our next speaker on Tuesday August 2 will be local policeman Ross Platfuss talking about farm crime.
Of 700 wild dogs Scott Stow and his 17 state-wide colleagues have caught recently in Victoria, only 20 per cent were identified as dingoes; the rest were crossbreds.
Based at Whitfield for two and a half years, a village that is pretty central for his dog catching operations, Scott is employed by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.
He told Stock and Land he uses two dogs of his own to detect where wild dogs have marked their territory. Then he largely uses those detections to determine where he places his rubber jawed foothold traps.
He even caught one of his own dogs but was able to find and release it after a couple of hours. With a week’s recuperation, the dog was able to resume detection duties.
Scott said a major hazard of the job was the number of traps, cameras and dogs that are stolen by bushwalkers and others. Sometimes the thieves are captured by a $300 camera and when that happens with clear pictures, Scott refers the pictures to police.
Asked why dogs were stolen from traps, Scott reminded us that each wild dog scalp attracts a $120 payment from the Victorian government. When he catches a dog, he takes a sample for DNA testing, weighs it, and if it’s a bitch, estimates roughly how many pups it has had.
Scott said he and fellow wild dog experts could only work 3km into Crown land from private property. That meant there was a vast area of forest where many wild dogs were virtually untouched.
He said he and his colleagues were barely keeping a lid on wild dog numbers and the only ones they tackled, were dogs attacking farm animals.
Our Stock and Land speaker on Tuesday 5th July at 10 am will be Warwick Bone. He will talk about permaculture and holistic farming in some depth.
Agricultural contractor Trevor Phillips, told Stock and Land in May that most of the huge amount of hay within his 80km range of Benalla, goes to feed horses.
But last month he was in the middle of seeding 7000 acres of winter crops like canola and wheat, around Dookie.
That sort of work is pretty time critical, but not as much as the hay and silage he makes with six tractors, three round balers and three square balers, every spring.
Five of Trevor's six tractors are German made Fendts, which can legally and safely travel at up to 80km/hr between jobs, which means trucks to move plant are not necessary.
Neither is much technical knowledge of the machinery. “They run themselves and tell me if anything is wrong with them,” Trevor said.
In a normal silage/hay season, Trevor and his team starts mowing around Thoona, moves through to Benalla and onward to home district Molyullah, before moving back to Thoona to largely make square bales west of the Hume and round bales to the east, through the same paddocks.
Our next speaker, on Tuesday June 7, will be Scott Stowe, a wild dog controller, talking about his work.
Ian Gill told the Stock and Land group last month that, as a geologist educator, he was able to successfully transition into growing superfine wool in sheds in the mid 1990s, by bringing his scientific expertise to bear on the project.
He is also an agriculturist because he graduated from Dookie Agricultural College in 1958 with honours.
He opted for shedding specially selected, coated, superfine Merino sheep and feeding them carefully to produce the finest wool possible. Only five years later in 2001, he produced a bale of wool that fetched a world record price of $1200 a kilogram at auction. “Our wool was also displayed at the entrance to the Sydney Olympic games,” he said.
Ian settled on Merino wethers for his operation and started a fastidious classing project to get the right sheep. Initially he selected for the consistency and fineness of their wool, the number of crimps per millimetre of wool staple as well as total staple length.
He said the ideal length for ultrafine wool tops - the cleaned, combed and aligned wool fibres - was 72mm. But that was difficult to achieve because while the length of newly shorn wool was often about 76mm, it could easily come back to say 62mm after processing.
Ian said it was also important that fibres be strong because the stronger they were the faster they could be spun into yarn.
The next selection criteria was how the sheep behaved in the shed. “Some sheep can’t handle that environment, but most conform,” he said. “They make hierarchies within the two extremes of bullies and timid ones. But we had to keep moving the bullies around the pens and that was half our job because most sheep continued producing quality wool for at least six years”.
Providing healthy feed was usually straight forward but was a problem during drought. In 2008, he bought in straw from the Riverina which resulted in seriously ill sheep. Ian said that after some investigation it turned out that the straw had Yersinia pestis bacteria in it, which is what also causes the black death in humans. “We only lost six sheep out of 260 but that was bad enough,” he said.
Shearing was done slowly by one shearer, local Keith Hammond, at the rate of about 80 a day. That ensured plenty of time could be devoted to ensuring the quality of each fleece.
Ian and his family became involved in processing their wool into yarn and clothing sold under the Jemala brand. Specialists in high end-luxury wool, Ian demonstrated to us passing a two square metre superfine wool shawl from their collection through a wedding ring. This technique was developed by US customs to detect shawls illegally made from the superfine hair of a rare and protected antelope.
Ian explained that they have had to go to Italy for wool processing because, although there are some small wool processing businesses, Australia has shut down nearly all its wool processing and there are no good spinners or processors of fine wool.
Loro Piana is an Italian fabrics and clothing company specialising in high-end, luxury cashmere and wool products. Loro Piana used to buy the finest bale in the world and always had a list of buyers.
Jemala’s wool has also featured in Italian high-end luxury cashmere and wool producer Cruciani’s products sold in prestigious Moscow stores favoured by oligarchs. “Cruciani’s has the reputation of selling the finest in the world with customers so rich they don’t ask about prices and just buy what they like”. However, Ian noted that “We are really struggling right now. One of the reasons is the oligarchs have gone to water, have gone greener, have been affected by the Ukraine Invasion”.
Our speaker for on Tuesday 3rd May will be Trevor Phillips, an agricultural contractor based at Molyullah. About 25 years in the business, he travels up to 80km from Benalla using five Fendt tractors, three round and three square balers as well as seeding equipment. He is currently sowing winter crops near Goorambat, part of a 7000 acre sowing and fertilising remit.
Just a reminder that our next Stock and Land will be on next Tuesday morning 5th April at 10 am.
Our guest will be Benalla man Ian Gill, who for many years produced and marketed super fine wool from his shedded sheep. As a result he established rock solid and highly lucrative contacts, largely with Italian wool spinners and elite fabric manufacturers - Ermenegildo Zegna for example.
To show and feel, Ian will have samples of the wool his sheep produced as well.
'Stud grows 100 fold in 50 years'
Our guest speaker for March was Tim Finger from the 1200 acre Riga Angus stud on the Midland Highway and the Broken River, about 10km north west of Mansfield.
Tim told us his grandfather and grandmother, George and Irika Kakis, established the stud with three pedigreed females, at Orana Park, Healesville in 1972. Those three females came from the Swansea Stud at Swanpool.
As numbers grew, they moved the stud initially to Tolmie and then in 1995 to its current location.
Today farm manager 27 year old Tim, his father Ian Finger and Irika's daughter Vera Finger, his mother, run about 300 stud females on Nillahcootie Park. Tim's sister Kate works for the Birchip Cropping Group in the Mallee and is a consultant to the farm operation.
Muscling, marbling, yield and other important characteristics determining meat eating quality are continually being refined within this female base, Tim said.
Riga concentrates on selling bulls as yearlings – their next sale is on the property on April 13 – and one previous customer, recorded 100 pregnancies from one such Riga sire, in one year. With such activity, it took him a while to grow out though, the customer said!
Wallace Binnie, a Thoona Poll Dorset stud breeder for more than half a century, spoke to our Stock and Land group on February 1.
Wallace acknowledged he was of an age where it would be quite legitimate for him to retire. But he said the keen interest in their Coledale sheep of his 13 year old grand daughter, Kirsty, kept him involved in the stud's day to day operations.
They had recently added a particularly vital piece of equipment to enable them both to keep working the sheep, without injuring themselves. (Poll Dorsets have always been big but like other breeds could weigh 80 to 100kg or more these days.)
That life saving piece of kit, although expensive, is a mechanical sheep handler. Wallace said that once it drew a sheep into its race, it would automatically clamp the sheep tightly and immovably so it could be drenched, inoculated or ear tagged while standing up, or it could turn the sheep on its side to be dagged or even partially shorn.
The Binnies run between 450 and 480 ewes, on nearly 400ha between Thoona and Devenish, and sell 150 to 160 rams a year at an on farm sale.
Our speaker for next Tuesday, March 1 at 10am, will be stud beef cattle breeder Tim Karkis. Tim’s family started the Riga Angus stud in 1971 at Nillahcootie, so are well into their second half century. Look forward to seeing you then.
'Catching up with Wallace after class'
The speaker for our next meeting on Tuesday 1 February will be Wallace Binnie, who has been breeding Poll Dorsets at Bungeet (near Thoona) for more than half a century. Wallace, wife Sue and one of their three daughters, run the Coledale stud, annually joining about 450 ewes and selling from 150 to 160 rams a year.
Look forward to catching up on Tuesday.
Stock and Land's December session - 'Reflecting on an extraordinary spring' and 'Regenerative Agriculture'
Reflecting on an extraordinary spring
Because of Covid restrictions, we were unable again to attract a guest speaker.
So I led with the sentence, “I don’t expect to see another spring as fabulous as this in my lifetime,” because the mild and damp La Nina spring, has coincided with extraordinary cattle and sheep prices and extraordinary demand for milk.
The only other time I remember something similar was in 1973. In that year I flew in a light aircraft from Melbourne to Broken hill and then up to Alice Springs. The country was lush and alive with kangaroos, goats, sheep, goats and even camels.
But it wasn’t to last. The following year beef prices collapsed and they took several years to recover.
Presumably that was a La Nina spring too. And while this one has been brilliant, it has been complicated by Covid restraints and shortages of farm workers. A shortage of shearers for example, has delayed shearing by two months in many areas, causing problems with blowflies and barley grass and other seeds in excess in longer wool.
Some shearers are working every day of the week to try and catch up. But according to a friend I talked to at the weekend, many of them are working for cash on farms other than the ones they are on during the week, and are exhausted when they come back onto regular payrolls on the Monday.
As well, paddocks are too wet in some areas, for hay making to go ahead when it should. And the canola harvest has been hampered by wet weather too.
But not quite as badly as a cousin’s canola crop near Gundagai in 2016. Grown on Murrumbidgee river flats, it had been windrowed and was ready to be headed, when the river flooded and floated the entire crop down the river. He changed to all cattle soon after, spurns any kind of cropping and has become a regenerative farmer. But more on that later.
I think we’d all agree sheep and cattle prices are just amazing. My old home town of Mortlake runs a bi monthly store sale for up to 5500 cattle. At one recently, a Gippsland breeder paid $4540 a head for 14 PTIC Charolais cows, saying “I paid $800 to $1000 a head more than I expected to”.
And it's not unusual for ewes to top $500 a head although there has been resistance in some areas to bids above $400 a head. Lambs have been making more than $300 too.
Another aspect, super sizing of crossbreed and composite ewes, means buyers are getting more for their money though. It’s not unusual now for ewes to weigh up to 120kg each. But that means though that some sheds are being shunned by shearers.
Regenerative Farming and Charles Massey's 'The Call of the Reed Warbler'
We followed with another topic, regenerative farming, which is gaining pace around the country. I first encountered the concept at a farm field day near Tarago, between Goulburn and Canberra in the early 1990s, where a guest speaker from New Mexico was talking about it. What stayed with me is that because he grazed his farm hard before spelling it for weeks or maybe a month or two, native plants were showing up again which his elderly grandfather had not seen since childhood.
That is an important aspect of regenerative farming, but it needs to be coupled with not flogging paddocks so that there is no grass cover when a drought hits.
A well known exponent and writer about regenerative farming is Cooma, NSW farmer Charles Massy. His book, Call of the Reed Warbler, is more or less the basis of his ANU PhD. In the first week of May, 2018, I’d read the book and attended a Q&A session about it with Charles at the Sydney Writers' Festival.
At the session, one questioner asked if any agricultural college had invited Massy to talk to their students. But he said absolutely none. He added that he had tried three times to start a course with existing educational establishments to expound his ideas, but without success.
I had heard an economist at a previous unrelated session about China, say that tractors had cut employment in Australian agriculture from 30 per cent to about 3 per cent in about 70 to 80 years in the 20th century. Repeating that I asked Charles what he thought and did he not think that combining tractors and computers had made evaluating no till, controlled traffic cropping and refined inputs easier and less impactive on already fragile soils. Charles acknowledged that to produce the quantities of food necessary such combinations were essential but doing it better than it had been done in the past.
Later that year I ran into an old school mate who had a farm next door to Charles’ place near Cooma. I said I thought what Charles was doing was brave and innovative. But my friend said he thought the paddocks looked dreadful.
Reflecting on that I suppose I should have said, do you expect the paddocks to necessarily look fantastic when they are growing native plants you’ve probably not seen before.
Then on September 28, 2020, the ABC presented an Australian Story featuring Charles Massy’s regenerative farming concepts. It had the following introduction.
"For five generations, Charles Massy's family rode on the sheep’s back and nearly destroyed their land in the process. When drought in the 80s and 90s almost sent him broke, the Cooma farmer switched to regenerative agriculture and watched his overgrazed land recover. In his mid-50s, Charles Massy started a PhD, visiting 80 top regenerative farmers to see what they were doing differently. That led to his ground-breaking book Call of the Reed Warbler, a plea to farmers to start working with nature. Last year, Australian Story featured the story of Charles Massey and his contribution to the area of regenerative farming... "
A rich discussion followed our viewing of this Australian Story program on Charles Massy’s work during the session. One of our group members told us about optimistic actions of Melbourne people who bought his irrigation farm. He said they were unhappy with the amount of water the irrigation channel carried and brought in an excavator to make it deeper. So, the excavator removed the clay layer, which largely retained the water in the channel, dug deeper into sand, which absorbed huge amounts of the precious fluid, and made the channel vastly worse. The new owners were not keen to hear cease and desist words of advice from him either!
Massy, Charles (2017 ) 'Call of the Reed Warbler' University of Queensland Press
Tree, Isabella (2018) 'Wilding--the Return of Nature to a British Farm' Pan McMillan/Picador
Rebanks, James (2020) 'English Pastoral' Penguin Australia and (2021) 'Pastoral Song'
Pollack, David (2019 ) 'The Wooleen Way - Renewing an Australian Resource' Scribe
Follow up Viewing: published in May 2021:
Please note the footnote on the Australian Story youtube page * National Farmers' Federation's Fiona Simson says this story does not fully represent her position on regenerative agriculture, which is one of broad support.
Coming up on December 7
While we don't have a guest speaker as such, we will begin by reflecting on an extraordinary season followed by case study this time around, but given Covid in the New Year, we will once again revert to guest speakers. Our case study focuses more on less extraordinary seasons, or in other words, preserving a fragile environment in periods of drought.
Look forward to seeing you at 10 am on Tuesday December 7.
We were looking forward to hearing from Scott Stowe in early October about his role in wild dog management in North East Victoria. Unfortunately Covid 19 restrictions impacting on workers meant that he couldn't attend, but we are hoping to reschedule his talk early next year.
Stock and Land’s tradition of celebrating the Melbourne Cup with a holiday on Cup Day continues this year! There will, however, be a session on Tuesday 7th December. Details will be emailed to group members when confirmed.
Wild dogs are a particular concern for farmers in areas bordering on the bush. The guest speaker at Stock and Land on Tuesday 5 October will be Scott Stowe, who speaks to farmers about local wild dog management at community meetings across North-East Victoria. Scott will talk about his role and the challenges wild dogs present to farming communities. Tuesday 5 October, 10 am to 12 midday, U3A meeting Room.
Sue Campbell, OAM, was a return speaker to our August Stock and Land meeting, ostensibly on the subject of Landcare.
A semi retired landscape architect, conservationist and Benalla farmer, Sue was awarded her Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for service to conservation and the environment since the 1960s, in the 2015 Australia Day Honours.
Sue founded her practice Susan Campbell Landscape Architects in 1964. Prior to that, she was the landscape architect for the Victorian Housing Commission from 1962 to 1966. In 1966, Campbell became the inaugural member of the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA). From 1974 to 1990, she was chief landscape architect for the Albury-Wodonga Development Corporation.
Sue was a member of the Streetscape Committee for the City of Wangaratta throughout 1990s as well as member of the Steering Committee for the Benalla Rural City Environment Strategy Plan in 2012. Sue has also served on the boards of Conservation Volunteers Australia since 1984 and Greening Australia since 1989
Sue has been quoted as saying that even as a child, she was involved in the environment. “I used to get into endless trouble for picking up spiders and snakes,” she said.
Much later, for about 16 years, she was in charge of replanting and revegetating Albury Wodonga Development Corporation land, which included planting about two million trees.
Her projects have included farm planning, urban design, large-scale landscape projects and urban forestry. She has also been an environmental farmer for 45 years, and is the recipient of the Rural Press Landcare Primary Producer Award and Victorian Sustainable Farm Award. She was president of the Victorian Farm Tree and Landcare Association, 2010–2011.
Sue talked about the important Landcare people she has been involved with. Then, with the Stock and Land group’s prompting, she talked about ripping, blowing up and bull-dozing rabbit warrens on their previously owned rabbit infested farm the other side of Wangaratta, the theme of her previous guest appearance.
A lifetime of Landcare indeed!
Beef cattle stud breeder Karen Morham from Lurg, spoke about her family’s Maine Anjou stud and its development, at our July meeting.
Alternatively skilled diesel mechanic husband Brian, in a normal Covid free world, would involved day to day too. But he works in the Western Australian mining industry and apart from one week-long visit in the last 18 months, state border shut downs have made travel home too uncertain to contemplate.
But Karen also has two of their four adult children involved in running the stud - they have their own small studs too - which together comprise 10 bulls, 58 cows, 23 heifers and 33 calves. As of early July 10 cows still remained to calve. However, despite calves often weighting 60kg or more, no calves have been pulled this year and none have died at birth.
Karen and family maintain comprehensive records. They weigh calves, punch one ear to accept a plastic tag and save the tiny piece of punched ear for DNA analysis within 12 to 24 hours of birth.
Some French breeds are renowned for being temperamental and difficult to handle. But Karen told us she could do practically what she wanted with newborn calves in the paddock, without upsetting mothers in any way.
The Morhams have had collected and registered, semen for domestic and international use, from 16 of their bulls. Prices range from $25 to $100 a straw. They have exported semen to the US, Canada and New Zealand.
In normal years, an extensive showing program involves Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney royal shows as well as Benalla, Euroa and other local events.
The next Stock and Land will be on Tuesday July 6 at 10am. Our speaker will be stud cattle breeder, Karen Morham of Morham Maine Anjous, Lurg. Karen and her husband Brien have exported semen from one of their own Main Anjou bulls to North America and New Zealand.
Carla Gardner, who runs hens, ducks and geese on two acres at Molyullah, spoke about heritage poultry and permaculture at our May Stock and Land meeting.
“Until six years ago I was a complete novice and living in Melbourne. But my interest in heritage breeds was piqued by Backyard Poultry Naturally by Alana Moore. She advised all back yard poultry keepers to maintain a rare breed if they possibly could,” she said.
Carla said that since the 1900s we’ve lost half of our domesticated breeds. “For example, a silver fox rabbit breeder, said her rabbits were rarer than pandas”.
She said heritage poultry have been bred for their region to be hardy, great foragers, and have genetic lineage to resist diseases and parasites. Hence Toulouse geese, Sumatran and Spanish chooks.
However Carla said modern breeds designed for maximum production do not fare so well. She explained that the Broad Breasted White turkey, the one usually eaten for Thanksgiving in the US, cannot breed without assistance. Hence there are jobs available there for turkey milkers.
Isa Browns, Hylines and other commercial breeds too, inbred specifically to endlessly produce eggs, have many not addressed problems as a result, she said.
Carla said she chose her chickens for the colour of their feathers and their eggs. So she has blue, green, pink, white and brown egg producers.
When Carla's 'Molly Rose Heritage Eggs' are available she sells them at Fruits ‘n’ Fare for $8 a dozen. But one dozen blue eggs will sell in Melbourne for as much as $30 a dozen.
Carla also said she was attracted to the sustainability and organic concepts of permaculture and was applying its concepts on their farm. See www.designingpermaculture.com for general principles.
Our next speaker, on Tuesday July 6, will be Karen Morham, Lurg, a breeder of Main Anjou cattle.
About 'Stock and Land'
Are you a regular watcher of Landline, a reader of Country News, Stock and Land or The Weekly Times? Did you grow up on a farm, are you still on the farm, are you engaged in agribusiness, or did you downshift into Benalla? Perhaps you studied/taught food and agriculture related courses or worked in an area related to agriculture? Or perhaps, like most of us, you are interested in where food comes from.
1st Tuesday of the month 10 am to 12 midday
U3A Meeting Room 1
Convenor Contact Details
M 0408 470 468
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