News from Downunder

REPORTING FROM DOWNUNDER

At present it is November, the last month of our Spring season and I guess you in America are heading toward Winter. Where I live, however, in the province of Northland which is the northernmost region of New Zealand, it looks like we are destined for another long drought, this time starting a month earlier than last year. Not a nice situation. Some silage has been made but hay paddocks may have to be reopened if we don’t get substantial rain soon. Newly sown maize is at risk, too.

Generally calving starts here in August/September but with the Miniature Herefords it tends to be whenever you can get your animal in calf if you don’t have your own bull. Either you borrow or lease one or you have to go the AI way and hope it works! I now have seven bulls ranging from the two little fellas born this Spring to three yearlings, a two-year-old and a three-year-old which will be used over my own cows and leased out to other breeders. An opportunity has also arisen to lease them out to dairy farmers to be used over their heifers for the first calf. The white-faced calf, which is the progeny of a Hereford bull over a Friesian dairy cow, is very popular in New Zealand for raising as dairy/beef as it has the growth rate of the Friesian along with the solidness of the Hereford. Owing to calving difficulties experienced by dairy heifers mated with standard Hereford bulls farmers have turned to using other breeds such as Angus or Jersey. The Angus have also presented problems with calving and the Jersey progeny are of little worth. After discussing this with some dairy farmers I suggested they try using a Miniature Hereford bull over their heifers for easy calving as well as providing a dairy/beef calf which will grow well even if smaller. A few have expressed an interest in trying this next season. We already supply standard Hereford bulls from our polled stud for dairy cows so the mini venture could well have its place.

Along with advocating my own little cattle I am helping promote Miniature Herefords wherever possible and this has led to the idea of having a Virtual Cattle Show via the internet for them. Originally it was to be just between Australia and New Zealand but interest has been shown elsewhere in the world, America included! It is being run by the newly incorporated Australian Miniature Hereford Breeders Network (AMHBN) of which I am a member. This breeders’ group has similar regulations to those of America in that the cattle are registered as full blood Herefords and classified as Miniature providing they are of Frame Score 1 or under.

In New Zealand there are no separate show classes for Miniature Herefords. They usually have to compete alongside the bigger cattle or other breeds and as a result, not many people have done any showing. As well as this some breeders live too far away from any show centres while others have problems transporting their animals to one. The situation in Australia is not much better which is why the idea of a Virtual Show arose. Anyone with access to good internet connections can take part.

In my area we have a local Agricultural and Pastoral Show for which I am a committee member in charge of running the cattle section. There are a large number of lifestylers in the district with blocks of land on average between five and twenty acres. These people are interested in small animals which opens up another opportunity to promote the minis. To encourage their participation in the local Show last season I introduced a ring especially for small beef breed cattle and have used the schedule for this as the basis for the Virtual Cattle Show. There are twelve classes available for entry as follows:
Class 1-Senior cow 3 yrs and over with calf/calves at foot
Class 2-Junior cow 2 yrs with or without calf/calves at foot
Class 3-Yearling heifer
Class 4-Heifer calf
Class 5-Senior bull 3 yrs and over
Class 6-Junior bull 2 yrs
Class 7-Yearling bull
Class 8-Bull calf
Class 9-Family group (to include males and females)
Class 10-Scenic photo with Miniature Herefords pictured
Class 11-Entertainment photo with Miniature Herefords included
Class 12-Viewers’ Choice
Except for Classes 10 and 11 all animals must be registered with their national Hereford Association and be of Frame Score 1 or under. The Show is planned for next May (2011) and a complete Show Schedule along with entry forms will be available shortly. This first show is to be purely a fun event, no entry fees and no prizes, just placings recognition, but it could become more competitive if enough interest is shown.

If you think this kind of show would suit you and would like to take part or have more information about it please contact me on either of these e-mails: riverlands27@slingshot.co.nz; riverlands27@xtra.co.nz

I am hoping to have a Broadband connection installed shortly so there will be yet another new e-mail address. What price living out in the back country!

Janet Poole, Riverlets Miniature Herefords, New Zealand.ngs recognition, but it could becom

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