Bill and Nikki Macqueen – written by Helen Walker QCL April 2015
DARLING Downs cattle producers Bill and Nikki Macqueen have been using EasyWean nose rings for the past 15 years and find they are invaluable to their breeding operation.
The Macqueens run 200 Angus/Wagyu breeders on their home property Murralah, near Millmerran, and on agistment country situated an hour and a half away.
The couple target the progeny onto the feedlot market, and into the live cattle market to Japan.
However it is on their agistment country that they find the nose rings most valuable.
Mr Macqueen says as they are not on-site to manage the weaning process the Easy Wean nose rings allow them to wean their calves at about four-months-of-age and stay with their mothers.
“The nose ring acts as a barrier between the calf’s mouth and the teat of the cow,” Mr Macqueen said.
“Every time the calf tries to grab a teat, the nose ring pushes it out of reach, which encourages the calf to start to fill up with grass.
“The spikes on the nose rings are there as a back-up, as the calf moves its head backwards and forwards trying to catch the teat, the spikes rub the cow’s udder and she moves away.”
The Macqueen’s remove the nose rings about six week later and educate the calves through the yards as part of their normal weaner education.
“The nose rings allow the cows to dry up their milk, and gives them time to pick up condition before winter,” he said.
“It really takes the anxiety out of weaning and makes separation process so much simpler.”
Mr Macqueen said they found using EasyWean a cost effective way to wean without the added expense of hay and silage.
They used the nose rings extensively last year during the drought as a means of keeping the cows and calves together where there was feed.
Mr Macqueen said this year with the abundance of feed on their home property they probably would not rely on the nose ring process as much, but they remain invaluable on the agistment property.