Red Poll Beef Catle

Australian Red Poll Cattle Breeders Inc.

Victorian Region

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The Internet is a place for people to share ideas. Let's keep up the spirit of those who invented the World Wide Web and share our ideas with others.

If you have any ideas or suggestions that may help others, either related to cattle or the farm in general, please send them to Melissa Neal for inclusion on this page.

Molasses stimulates bacteria and fungi in the soil.
Molasses as a foliar spray.
Molasses for the control of thistles.
Use a refractometer to determine when to mow pasture.
Mineral lick.
Feeding milk to orphans.
Electric fence can cause noisy telephones.
Improved electric fence configuration.

Molasses stimulates bacteria and fungi in the soil.

Use molasses to stimulate bacteria and fungi in the soil to lift the pH and make calcium available to plants. Apply 3 gallons per acre mixed with water.

Molasses as a foliar spray.

Molasses is also an excellent foliar spray for insects on leaves. Use a refractometer to gauge mineral sugar levels. If the brix (% sugar level) is above 5, insects find leaves unattractive and are deterred from feeding on the plant. Don't use molasses on high iron soil, as it will add more iron.

Molasses for the control of thistles.

Molasses can also be useful for the control of thistles. With high nitrogen demanding weeds such as thistles, application of sugars effectively ties up nitrates, which then kills the weeds. Start with 1 gm/m2 of molasses (diluted with water as required), and monitor the effect. If no signs are observed after 3 days, increase the application of molasses to 10 gm/m2 up to 100 gm/m2 if still not successful. Otherwise get out the shovel!

When to mow pasture.

While we are in the middle of silage and hay making season, farmers in Gippsland are reporting the usefulness of using a refractometer to determine timing of mowing pasture. Plant mineral sugar levels are subject to fluctuations throughout the day due to sap flowing between roots and foliage. Monitoring this during hay/silage making can optimise the sugar levels of the finished product often doubling the sugar level and the final quality of the cut grass.

Refractometers can be purchased though Selby Bio Lab at Clayton. If more than 10 are purchased a discount may be negotiated. Contact Gerhard for details. For more information on using refractometers, try Arden Anderson - "Science in Agriculture" or Gary Zimmer - "The Biological Farmer." These books are available through the East Gippsland Organic Agriculture Association Bookshop (Phone 5152 2276 during business hours)

Thanks to GOLi Gossip for the above tips.

What's your Tip

Do you have something that would help others?
Please send your tips to
Melissa for inclusion on this page.

Mineral Lick

1 bag of dolomite
1kg of agricultural (rock) salt
2kg of copper sulphate
1 bag of seaweed meal (or this can be put in as a liquid)
1kg of sulphur

Mix all dry ingredients thoroughly. Take 9 litres of water, and into it put 3 tablespoons of dissolved borax (this supplies the boron) 1 litre of cider vinegar, 1 desert spoon of cobalt sulphate if obtainable, (otherwise depend on the cobalt content of the seaweed meal). Seaweed meal is also high in zinc, which should be enough, otherwise consult your vet as to amounts of zinc sulphate to add. Pour this onto the dry ingredients and mix with a spade until it is like a slurry, or wet cement. Molasses can be dribbled over it if wanted but usually the stock will eat it without that inducement if they need it.

If liquid seaweed product is used instead of seaweed meal, put a litre of the concentrate to a mix, reducing the water by that amount; ie. 8 litres of water instead of 9. This lick should be renewed every time it is used up. Eventually the stock will catch up on their requirements. Seaweed supplies organic selenium and iodine, as well as a host of other trace minerals.

Pat Coleby - Farming Naturally & Organic Care.

Feeding Milk to Orphans

Goat's milk is the best milk replacer available. It can be fed to calves mixed 50/50 with water if desired, but full strength to lambs, deer and pigs. When using goat's milk, however, it must be from a goat that has been tested free of CAE. Goats have their own type of autoimmune disease, called Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis (CAE). This disease is transmitted by the milk, and has taken goat breeders many years to control. The milk is completely safe if from a CAE tested herd, otherwise the milk must be thoroughly boiled. If a farmer considers buying a goat to feed poddies, make sure it comes with a CAE free certificate, and that the certificate is seen and the tattoo mentioned matches the one in the goat's ear.

Pat Coleby - Farming Naturally & Organic Care.

The Benefits of Soil Testing

In her books Pat Coleby talks about soil testing.

The practice and use of soil testing has become widely accepted both by farmers and industry. The potential for increased yields and profits has been the obvious motivator for the keen interest in soil testing.

Soil test reports will generally provide you with appropriate fertilizer application recommendations for nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium and limestone. Soil testing also allows for determining the micronutrient requirements of your crop.

If you apply too little fertilizer, your crop yields and returns will be lower. Too much fertilizer will waste time and money and risk environmental damage due to nutrient runoff. Consequently, soil testing provides a farm management tool with a potential benefit to the farmer of increased yields, reduced operating costs and superior environmental risk management.

Additional benefits include; improved crop maturity and quality, higher tolerance to disease and pest damage, increased growth and stand ability.

Many millions of dollars are spent each year for fertilizers and limestone. The cost of soil testing is relatively inexpensive in comparison to the costs of the fertilizer.

Pat Coleby's books are well worth having a look at, also have a look at, the web site of the soil testing lab she recommends in her books.

Natural Farming: a practical guide Natural Farming carries a simple but widely overlooked message: healthy soil makes healthy plants, which in turn make healthy animals and healthy people. Natural Cattle Care Natural Cattle Care encompasses every facet of farm management, from the mineral components of the soils cattle graze over, to issues of fencing, shelter and feed regimens. How you farm determines the health of your livestock. Natural Cattle Care is a comprehensive analysis of farming techniques that keep the health of the animal in mind. Pat Coleby brings a wealth of animal husbandry experience to bear in this analysis of many serious problems of contemporary farming practices, focusing in particular on how poor soils lead to mineral-deficient plants and ailing farm animals. Coleby provides system-level solutions and specific remedies for optimizing cattle health and productivity

Electric Fence Interference with Telephones and the Internet.

Are you or your neighbours hearing nasty clicking noises on the phone? Or perhaps you're  having problems with your Internet connection slowing down. Did you know that electric fences can upset the operation of your telephone line, or that of your neighbours?

Electric fence manufacturers, suppliers and your State Department of Agriculture can provide you with more information on effective electric fencing - not only to prevent phone and Internet interference, but to avoid the possibility of fires or lightning damage to you fence energiser and to maintain effective stock control.

You can find out more about Australian Electric Fence Standard AS3014 and safe operation of electric fences on the web at

Configuring your electric fence.

For preventing interference to your telephone, the Internet, and other electrical appliances, some electric fence configurations are better than others.

The ideal method is to configure your fence in a star pattern, extending from the fence energiser, creating an open loop situation. That is, the hot wire should have a break in it at some point, around small enclosures such as dams, and at the end of the fence. Avoid making closed loops .

Constructing your electric fence.

When building your fence take care of these points.

A good earth connection is necessary for correct operation of your electric fence. Try to keep the soil moist around the energiser earth connection.

An easy way for you to create an effective earth connection is to use three stakes, such as galvanised steel posts, driven vertically into the ground for 1.5 metres, and at least 3 metres apart.

Electric fence maintenance.

Remember to regularly clear away brush, scrub and loose wire from the 'hot' wire and earth, as well as checking the condition of insulators. This will ensure that the current drawn by the fence is minimised and that your fence is operating at maximum efficiency.

Use of a 'power meter' is useful to check that the fence current is maintained within the manufacturer's specification.

Check fence connections at least once a year, and especially before summer to reduce fire risk.

Thank you to Telstra Country Wide for these suggestions. Telstra MobileNet for a mobile phone that works where you work.

Build a better electric fence

Mel, Just came across the Red Poll Webpage and your tips on electric fencing.

One tip, which is very handy, is to additionally connect the earth to the entire fence system - other than the electrified wires. This effectively uses the entire fence system as your earth and control is not dependent on an earth return.

This system can be used when you have an outrigger on a conventional fence or with a dedicated electric fence. I used the three and four wire electric fence - the top and third wire are "hot" (electric) with the fourth hot but able to be disconnected when the grass gets long and may earth out the fence. (Long grass that's a distant memory) The second wire (from top) is your earth wire - this is connected all the way back to the energiser. With this configuration you can easily crawl through by laying on the earth wire and step through.

Never electrify barb wire as it can be potentially fatal if anyone becomes entangled in the barb.

Gavin Wall
Farm Services Manager
Tintern Girls Grammar School

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Last updated:  November 27th, 2010