Despite the bulls being Angus black, Micha Johansen’s calves include many brown ones this season.

My favourite day of the year, aka last calf born, occurred on my birthday this year, so happy birthday to me! I find calving an incredibly stressful time, and the nine weeks it took felt like forever, but it really was but a blip on the calendar.

This year we have raised the most calves we ever have, at 111 and we will take them through to 100kg. All are currently on twice-a-day milk, but we will start the weigh-and-wean process next week. I’m sure the biggest (Ethan, who is literally bigger than a miniature horse) and oldest (Uma, who is massively solid) will protest aplenty, my poor, poor babies.

We have had an unusual year for calf colour, where brown calves have dominated our usual ‘Angus black’, but have heard of similar stories, so it’s not just us. In addition to brown and black calves we also have a smattering of red, which has us somewhat puzzled. I know you can get red Angus, so I assume at least one of our bulls had the red gene somewhere.

They are simply adorable, so most likely will go into my ‘ooooh I’ll keep those ones’ paddock. Hopefully the brown colouring won’t affect saleability, as we are hoping to get most sold at the upcoming weaner sales, otherwise we will have to explore alternative sale avenues, or convince the bank manager to let us buy a second farm (so not happening).

This is my 12th or 13th season rearing calves, and I learn and develop new practices every year. This season I have been getting a cover on to any calf I notice has a cool mouth, rather than simply monitoring, which has helped me have the best calf health season ever.

We have only had three that I would consider ‘seriously ill’, and all recovered, much to my delight. TJ will admit that ill calves are not his forte (patience wise) so some afternoons he has fed every calf, except the one I’m sitting in the straw with, squeezing Dexolyte into with every second ‘calf chomp’ on the teat, whilst telling them what a good calf they are. They will usually take a litre in via this method, and that litre can take a jolly long time.

The best part is that the hospital pen is opposite the new entrant pen, so I get the joy of hearing TJ trying to juggle babies on to a feeder. Being half beef they do tend to get over excited and run about going berko, generally knocking the ones you just got on to the feeder off. Hearing TJ admonish them for being over-zealous is quite funny.

We have upped our Angus breeding bull numbers from four to six this year. While we have not had any issues only using four, it did feel a bit risky should one get hurt, or not work as well. With six we will likely alternate three in three out each week, ensuring the boys get some decent rest, and the girls get a nice variety to choose from.

Finally my wee racehorse is turning into an absolute corker. I popped over to the Manawatu Harness track to see how Clyde went on his second look at the track, and he handled it like a pro (no biased opinion here).

He seemed to really enjoy himself and was keen to get out there for his run-around, which definitely helps. The trainer will make a decision in a month or so as to whether he will have a go as a two year old, or if he needs a bit more time and so will be held back until he is three.

To say I’m obsessed is an understatement. Poor TJ repeatedly asked me what it was I wanted for my birthday, and I only had two responses – another shareholding in a racehorse, or a drum-kit. Needless to say TJ decided that the fact he puts up with me was present enough.