Pedigree mower for pedigree cattle in Australia
Clean-cut topping improves grass quality and saves feed costs for Boyd Arthur’s pedigree Angus beef farm in Queensland, Australia
On the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia is the lush Noosa hinterland, a patchwork of tranquil lakes, forests and striking volcanic formations in between friendly country towns. Nestled in this countryside, Boyd Arthur rears 200 head of pedigree Tropical Angus Ultrablack cattle for breeding stock under an intensive farming system. High stocking rates and diligent grassland management are keys to his success. According to Boyd, “consistent pasture management can significantly enhance animal condition and reduce purchased feed costs throughout the winter.”
Boyd’s family farms one of the largest, privately-owned mango orchards in the Northern Territory. He branched out and moved to Noosa to set up his 500-acre pedigree stud farm less than three years ago. The climate around Noosa produces high levels of rainfall, which is ideal for crop growth, so his intensive grassland management system means he can have high stocking rates with an extended grazing profile right into the winter months. “Toppers are one of the most important tools on our livestock farm,” Boyd points out. “We’ve used slashers and toppers before and I wanted to ensure my pasture management started off on the right foot. So I took a look at what was on the market from my local dealer. There are lots of products from China and Southeast Asia but they are very heavy or are often difficult to maintain. Getting parts can be difficult also. I’m not a mechanic and so easy maintenance like greasing and changing blades are a big plus for me. And let’s face it, in any walk of life, you get what you pay for!”
Dan Millar at FieldQuip offered to demonstrate two different models of topper manufactured by Major Equipment in Ireland for Boyd. “I heard good things about the quality of Major toppers before and so we had a demonstration of the 909HD and the Cyclone. They both do different jobs and I have to say that the demonstration went very well. I was so impressed I told Dan to leave both of them on my farm. They now play a vital role in my total pasture management.”
The 909HD is a 3.0m wide, centre-mounted topper that uses a heavy-duty gear drive system to run its two rotors and eight blades. “What I really like about this topper is that it’s built from extra strong steel, yet it’s light enough for our small John Deere tractors and it doesn’t take a lot of power,” says Boyd. “We use the 909HD year-round but it really comes into play through the autumn and spring when we get cool nights. We don’t go too low on the grass – we just take the tips off the top before it gets lignant, which encourages a fresh spurt of growth and extends the grazing period considerably.”
Boyd’s decision to buy a Major Cyclone mower was for a much different reason. Also manufactured from Strenx High-tensile steel, the Cyclone is designed to do the work of a flail but consumes less fuel and power. Boyd went for the 3.0m wide model with three rotors and twelve blades.
“At the end of the season, we usually set the Cyclone low at three or four inches, to slightly scalp the ground without killing the grass,” continues Boyd. “We then oversow the mulched pasture and get a great, clean turf establishment much faster than traditional methods. The clean cut capability of the Cyclone stimulates grass growth so we get stronger, leafy crops much more quickly. Leafy young grass not only tastes better but contains double the nutrient value which in turn promotes good cattle growth. Grass will always respond faster to a clean cut and that’s very obvious with these Major mowers. They are superb pieces of kit.”
The 500 acre farm is topped four times a year using both Major mowers on 100hp and 75hp John Deere tractors “The build quality, reliability factor and ease of maintenance are the main reasons I decided on these Major toppers,” beams Boyd. “They come fully galvanised, with no paint, so much more durable and long lasting. And they have very few daily service points which means we can get on with the job. One very big advantage is they are gear-driven and don’t have belts. As anyone who has experience with belt-driven equipment, that is the weakest point. There are plenty of belt-driven mowers out there – but not for me.”
This level of attention on his breeding stock business reflects positively on his reputation: Boyd Arthur’s herd of Tropical Angus cattle are highly sought after. “My Major mowers are pivotal to my grassland management system and the grass seems to respond better with the use of the Cyclone, too. I’m farming at minimal acreage with a high stocking rate so if I can grow more crop, I can reduce my feed bills considerably through the winter. I think I’ve got it just about right,” he concludes.