One page planning

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This is a planning process and not a recipe. It provides a framework that draws on your existing knowledge and aspirations and, in a relatively systematic way, assesses the benefits, as well as potential flow on effects and implementation challenges, of any change under consideration. 

Step 1 - Deciding the options and priorities

Where am I now?

Where do I want to get to?

  • My branding %’s are consistently lower (10 year average 70%) than what I believe they should be and this affects the number of young stock I have available for sale, and therefore total property income, and the number of replacement heifers I have available.
  • I don’t wean as such; young sale cattle are taken off their mothers at each muster and trucked to markets soon after.
  • I cull breeders (heifers and mature cows) for defects in conformation and/or failure to conceive and raise a calf in two consecutive years.
  • I’m in a herd rebuilding phase, after a run of poor years.
  • From what I’ve seen on neighbouring properties, an average branding % of 80% should be quite achievable in this district.
  • I want to see the condition of our country improve, particularly in drier seasons.

What are my options?

What is the highest priority?

  • Implement and early weaning program (yard and/or paddock); aim to get calves off of their mothers by 10 months of age.
  • Pregnancy test breeders, to identify cows not in calf as early as possible.
  • Check fertility and serving ability of bulls.
  • Manipulate stocking rates and allocation of stock across the property, so that the breeding herd has access to better nutrition.
  • Labour and time limitations and lack of ready access to a suitable vet mean that it would be very difficult to conduct a full pregnancy testing program.
  • I have some ability to change allocation of stock across the property, but limited ability to alter total breeder numbers at this stage.
  • Early weaning appears to be the best option, it has produced good results on a neighbouring property (cow condition and overall fertility rates) and it is a practice that I can implement for a moderate additional cost and effort.

Step 2 - Planning the change

Possible Impacts on property:

Possible impacts off the property:

  • Will need to make improvements to the main homestead trucking yards to allow yard weaning.
  • Setting aside a decent paddock for the weaners to go into will limit paddock options for other cattle.
  • Will need to upgrade fencing in likely weaner paddock.
  • Will need to access a source of high quality hay for hand feeding in yard and/or paddock weaning.
  • Earlier removal of weaners from cow will reduce grazing pressure on breeder paddocks and improve land condition.
  • Need to fed, handle and supervise weaners will place an additional strain on labour resources at mustering time.
  • Additional young cattle for sale likely to please our regular buyers?
  • Broader market options; change in the type of cattle we are selling?

Likely impact on profitability:

Overall assessment:

  • Will need to spend in order of $ 15,000 up front to upgrade fences and yards.
  • Presuming average breeder numbers of 2, 000, a conservative 7% increase in branding %’s should see at least an additional 100 weaners sold at $ 350/head = $ 35, 000 additional income. Less additional annual costs (mainly purchased hay, additional labour) of $ 7, 000, should have additional profit of $ 28, 000 each year.
  • Quieter cattle should open up other market options such as feed lots etc.
  • Early weaning should have a significant positive impact on our profitability.
  • This is a practice that we have the skills and labour resources to implement ourselves.
  • Our country should improve in condition overall; particularly in drier years.
  • Some extra work will be required initially to bring our yards and likely weaner paddock up to scratch and a bit of extra effort at each muster.
  • Will need to inform our regular buyers of the practice change and possible implications for the number and type of cattle we are selling.