Opportunity buying pays off

Trace minerals boost productivity

Beef
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Rodney Blanch is one of three producers taking part in round one of the national Multimin Performance Ready Challenge.

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Rodney Blanch, Silverwood Farming, Nanango, religiously injects his stud bulls with Multimin and believes it contributes to achieving fertility rates of above 85 per cent.

Rodney Blanch, Silverwood Farming, Nanango, religiously injects his stud bulls with Multimin and believes it contributes to achieving fertility rates of above 85 per cent.

While many producers were offloading cattle during the dry, the Blanch family at Nanango were doing the opposite.

Normally running 500 head, including 150 commercial Charolais breeders and 40 stud cows, Rodney and Jenness Blanch were feeding 800 head prior to the recent break in the season.

"When it was dry, I was buying heaps of drought cattle and feeding them up," Mr Blanch said.

"It's only an opportunity thing - you go to the sale and think 'I can make money out of that pen at the price they're going', so you do it.

"We did fairly well out of them because when the season changed a little bit and they went up in price a lot, we had plenty of cattle on hand."

Buying mostly Charolais-cross store cows or cows and calves, Mr Blanch said anything that looked alright and tested in calf would be kept for a round or two.

Despite feeding that many cattle for more than 12 months being a full time job in itself, Mr Blanch said locking them in smaller paddocks to save what little pasture was left had paid off with the recent rain.

"Any stuff that I've brought in and any old breeders, sometimes they fatten in the paddock on a bit of oats but mostly they're grain assisted," he said.

"I've got a mixing wagon for rubbish hay and silage. We're grain traders as well so I get access to grain at the right price and PKE (palm kernel expeller) meal, soy hull pellets, molasses and making a brew.

"I like to sell them at around 250 to 280 kilograms, dressed, as MSA to Dinmore or the local butchers."

Heading into winter, Mr Blanch said they have plenty of grass, which has recently gone off, and they had dropped back to their usual carrying capacity.

"It was about the end of January/ start of February (that the season broke), but we let the grass paddocks get away a bit. We kept feeding them for probably four weeks after it rained," he said.

One of the paddocks that had been used to feed a big mob in has since been ploughed up, he said.

"They just about ruined the grass in it, but it's had plenty of manure put on it.

"We spread some pig manure as well as the cow manure that went back into the paddock, and it was a stoney, ridgy sort of paddock that wasn't much good so it will make something of it."

One of the key ingredients of success for the Blanch family is the use of Virbac's Multimin.

The trace mineral injection, which includes selenium, copper, manganese, and zinc, has long been used in the family operation to improve health and fertility.

Mr Blanch said the product had been an important boost for the cattle he had been buying and feeding during the recent dry.

"Your own cattle always do better than stuff you buy in, but you fix it by Multimin and Dectomax (injectable)," he said.

"You buy them in and feed them and think they're just not picking up so they get a shot.

"Most times, you see the difference and you don't come back and give them a second shot either because it seems to do the job. I often tell people it's the cheapest feed you can buy."

While he doesn't inject all of his cattle every year, rather identifying the ones that need it, Mr Blanch said there are some that he does religiously.

"Stud cattle and breeders, and new maiden heifers that you keep every year, they're the pens you do religiously every time, and it works," he said.

"Maiden heifers, I always needle them with it because I reckon it makes them more fertile and seems to make sure they all go in calf."

Mr Blanch was one of three producers taking part in round one of the national Multimin Performance Ready Challenge. He hopes that by tailoring his Multimin program, he will further increase fertility, conception and productivity.

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