John and Nikki Cleary
‘Avilion’ is our family property which is about 1100 acres in size and situated 30km west of Warwick on the Southern Darling Downs. The Avilion bull feeding depot utilises a specially formulated TMR (total mixed ration) supplied by Vincent Posada (Animal Nutrition Consulting Services) with long term animal health the utmost importance in this ration. The TMR uses a high silage inclusion, low starch and high fibre diet with bull semen quality and safe steady body conditioning the main focus. This allows a slower than normal (in comparison to feedlot rations) DWG (daily weight gain), allowing body frame to grow without putting too much condition on the bulls, thus reducing risk to semen and fertility quality. These bulls arrive and finish on the same ration and we aim for a target DWG of between 1.3-1.5kg per hd/per day.
The feeding program for these bulls typically runs for 250-300 days on feed between arrival and sale time. Unlike feedlots these bulls have a very interrupted preparation considering they are processed every 4 weeks for weighing, numerous drafts, semen collection, video and photo collating, customer interaction, as well as being able to handle 3 boys under 10 mustering them. All of this is on top of the environmental impact from wet and cold periods, with temps in summer getting to 40 degrees plus and winter we can get a month straight of frosts down to -5.
At Avilion we have never noticed bulls have any difficulty handling conditions, nor do we have trouble of bulls not eating or taking time to get started. It is the same feed we would give weaners or cows holding over in yards overnight with no thought about any risk to animals not having this feed before.
The Avilion ration is what you would typically call a feedlot starter ration being background 1. Above this you would have background 2, finisher 1, finisher 2, finisher 3. The rations increase in starch, energy, proteins, fats and oils as you increase to finisher 3. These bulls hit their 1.3-1.5kg DWG by eating 2% of dry matter/kg of body weight, fed in rubber troughs in pens ranging from 10-60acres and full pasture access.