Home' Smart Farmer : February 2013 Contents February 2013
By ALISTAIR LAWSON
ATTENTION to detail in on-
farm work ensures part-
time farmer Steve Dohnt
gets the best out of his cattle and
lambs at the saleyards.
Together with his wife Roselie,
Mr Dohnt owns 90 hectares at
Eden Valley and leases another
200ha at nearby properties.
They have been at Eden Valley
for 11 years now since moving up
from Mount Gambier.
On the 90ha home property, the
Dohnts normally background
between 80 and 90 steers a year
which are bought in as weaners
through the Strathalbyn saleyards
and grown-out to between 400
kilograms and 450kg.
"When I buy in steers I try and
get them from Kangaroo Island,"
Mr Dohnt said.
The cattle have been sold to feed-
lots, Woolworths and local mar-
Lately, the cattle have been sold
back through Strathalbyn, where
they consistently achieve strong
That was easier said than done in
the past season, with a cold winter
and not much of a spring making it
harder to reach weight targets and
Mr Dohnt bought-in 20 Angus
and black baldy cows in 2011 with
plans to possibly build up numbers
with the steers they buy in.
The cows were bought in
through the Strathalbyn saleyards
from properties in Fleurieu
Peninsula and KI.
"They seem to have good genet-
ics and grow out well in the envi-
ronment we have here," he said.
Those cows were mated to an
Angus bull rented from his stock
agent Lincoln Powell at Elders
The bull went in with the cows
in the first week of June and ran
with them for 10 weeks, and cows
are due to calve down in March.
Mr Dohnt favours the black
baldy cattle to their pure-blood
Angus counterparts as they tend to
cope better with conditions they
are in, east of Eden Valley, which
has an average annual rainfall
between 500 millimetres and
But he says cattle with white
markings can attract a discount at
saleyards, which is why he mixes
them with straight Angus cattle.
Once more cows are bought in,
Mr Dohnt intends to sell progeny
as weaners but for now he will
grow them out to about 400kg and
sell them at saleyards.
When selling direct to
Woolworths, a quality assurance
system was required to ensure the
retailer's specifications and require-
ments were met. Even though they
no longer sell to the supermarket,
Mr Dohnt religiously follows the
quality assurance manual.
Stock bought in are weighed and
drenched straight away and remain
in the yards on hay and grain for a
week before they head out to the
paddock to graze pastures made up
of a perennial phalaris and clover
mix on heavier soils, and Tetila rye-
grass and subclover on lighter
"I've increased the legume con-
tent in pastures over the years,
which provides better quality feed
for the stock, resulting in improved
weight gain," he said.
"It's really hard to establish
perennial pastures out here
because the rainfall has been a bit
erratic over the past few years."
Mr Dohnt also sows about 10ha
of triticale every year for hay pro-
He has a policy of feeding cattle
well with hay and grain over sum-
mer in the belief that the better the
cattle come out of summer, the bet-
ter they will be in winter.
Cattle are normally drenched
with Cydectin in January for para-
Mr Dohnt prefers to do it at that
time because that way, he seems to
only need to treat them once.
Making up the other half of the
Dohnts' enterprise is a 250-head
flock of Merino ewes, which has
been run on their leased properties
The ewes, normally bought in at
about five years old through the
Mount Pleasant off-shears sale, are
mated to Koonawarra and
Paramount White Suffolk rams.
Those ewes are retained until
they have produced a couple of
lambs and then turned over.
With the help of David Schulz
from Landmark Anderson &
Fawcett at Mount Pleasant, Mr
Dohnt tries to put the tops of the
lambs back through the saleyards
before grass seeds set.
The rest are kept and shorn in
November before they are sold off
Dohnts go into
all the details
When Steve Dohnt buys in stock they are weighed and drenched straight
away and remain in the yards on hay and grain for a week. They then
head out to the paddock to graze pastures.
Cattle price signals up
THE cattle market has been tough for
a while now as a difficult season and
lack of confidence took their toll on
On average, young cattle are about
$100 cheaper than last year.
But some agents across the Adelaide
Hills and Fleurieu Peninsula foresee
signs of prices heading upwards for
some types of cattle.
Prostock director Kym Endersby said
the Mount Compass sale in the first
week of February showed signs things
were starting to lift.
"We saw a lift in good trade calves by
10 cents a kilogram as numbers are
running out," he said.
"Feeder cattle and stores are still
struggling with very limited competi-
tion from the paddock.
"I think it will be stable to better, but
it will take some time and we need
some paddock feed."
Elders Strathalbyn territory sales
manager Danny Reynolds agreed.
"My thoughts are that we're starting
to see the cattle job turn for the bet-
ter, but that's just a gut feeling," he
"Dublin and Naracoorte have been
stronger and at the Strathalbyn prime
sale in the first week of February
heavy cattle were between 5c/kg and
8c/kg dearer while lighter cattle held
Danny said improvements were sub-
ject to seasonal conditions.
Meanwhile, lamb prices are starting
to improve as numbers drop off with
Landmark Anderson and Fawcett co-
principal Colin Fawcett said sheep had
not shown the same positive signs as
yet but believed prices were likely to
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