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  • Writer's pictureWayne

Where are the red-legs?

Updated: Aug 31, 2023

It's been a long, cold, wet and cloudy winter here on Caluka Farms. The cloudy days I think are the most frustrating. When we have a few cloud free days, the pasture growth is substantially better. However, the growth rates are accelerating now as we enter the beginning of spring and I wouldn't mind another 1,000+ ewes to capitalise on the wedge of feed that is already present.

Anyway, on this blog I wanted to show some recent pictures and then answer a question I get asked by visitors to the farm (another group of students are coming in a few hours of writing this).

Quebec paddock in the bottom flats. Balansa clover starting to accelerate. Not enough ryegrass here where it is constantly sopping wet.

Quebec paddock mid-slope. Sub-clovers, ryegrass and kikuyu.

Quebec paddock top of slope. More ryegrass but clover and kikuyu is undermeath. Not waterlogged like the previous two photos.

Our new (blue tag) weaner mob (April 2023 born) from one ewe mob (others joined just after taking this photo). Some older girls are in here to teach them what oat trails are to stimulate the rumen development, which we did start a few weeks before weaning.

So, the question I get asked is, where are the red-legs (red-legged earth mites)? What did I spray with and how often do I need to spray? Firstly, I don't have a boom spray, though it is right at the top of my wish list. Secondly, other than a contractor in to spray a few trial strips of abamectin (36g/L product) three years ago, we have not sprayed insecticide since September 2018 when kikuyu was being sown.

I don't have a good answer why we do not have a mite problem. They are certainly there in patches along our boundary fences. I doubt it is because we fertilise a little more than others because our pasture growth has been slow during winter just like everyone elses.

Similarly with conical snails. We have some very large numbers in small areas that I would love to be spraying with carbendazim (of course that is purely as a fungicide for the pastures and the coincidence that it hurts snails is just a wonderful side benefit). However, they are not causing damage and the numbers are way down this year (except in very small areas). Perhaps it is ten thousand hooves making their life hell? I think that does have something to do with it.

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