Mr Newcomen, and stud master Mat Marshall, said in order to maintain quality of the herd, and in particular their sale bulls, they have had to spend a lot of money on feeding cattle hay, cubes and silage, at some points $6000 a week.
This supplementary feeding program began in early June, just before joining.
“We join mostly at the start of June, and from past experience, we’ve learned that it pays to feed your cattle to get them in-calf, so we fed them every day during that period, until we took the bulls out,” Mr Newcomen said.
“It’s cost us a lot of money, but it’s got them in-calf, and that’s the most important thing.”
He said 72 out of 79 heifers were in-calf, which proved that feeding them had been rewarding.
“Those heifers have now all gone away on agistment, about 50 to a property in Wingeel, and the rest to a property at Romsey,” he said.
“They calve in April, so we will have to bring them back by then, maybe at the start of March, at this point we’re undecided.”
He said in the last couple of years they have exceeded their 25 inch rainfall average, but as of the end of October this year, they had only received half of that.
”The start of the year was ok, but it was quite obvious by early June that we were in for a dry time,” he said.
“Up until early October, the country was brown and bare, but then we had some rain in late October and early November, which turned the grass green, but then we had hot winds, and it started to dry off again.”
Mr Newcomen said the recent downpour of 65 millimetres over the weekend would make a difference.
“It was a very steady rain, but there was very little run off into dams, so people wanting run off won’t be happy, but from a grass growing perspective, it will be perfect,” he said.
“It might not be as good as a September or October rain, but the grass will never grow without rain, so it’s good to get some.”
He said talks of an east-coast low could deliver more much-needed rain.
“They are talking about a potential east-coast low developing towards the weekend, and if that happens, we could get some more good rain, which will be fantastic, especially after a good rain like this,” he said.
“Usually after a drought, it’s the second big rain that gives run off, so hopefully this one comes.”
As well as the 70-80 heifer calves they keep to contribute to their breeding program each year, they keep the same number of bull calves which they sell at their annual bull sale the following March.
Mr Newcomen and Mr Marshall said next year’s sale could be tough.
“Bull sales this year could be tough, because people in East Gippsland, which is where I sell the majority of my bulls, are having a tough season, and one would assume they’ve been buying feed and would have less money,” Mr Newcomen said.
“We also have some good clients in the north-east, and they would understand that some of the buyers here aren’t going to be as affluent as usual, so that might encourage them to come to the sale.”
He said quality will be as good as ever.
“We put a lot of money into our genetics, and this is the best lot we’ve had for a while,” he said.
“We have good genetics, and we want to hang on to those genetics for as long as we can, we’ve sold everything we liked least, and we’re now confident we can carry calves through to the calf sales, which is where we always aim to sell them.”