Hereford cow 422 at Linga Longa Farm in Wingham is “Grace” — named for 16-year-old Grace McCallum of Tinonee for her gift of $20 a week to buy feed during the drought. The St Clare’s student is now urging people to support the “Name A Cow” sponsorship programme set up by farm owners, Greg and Lauren Newell.
What is the “Name A Cow” sponsorship programme, and why did you decide to support it?
It’s a simple idea shared on the Linga Longa Farm Facebook page that caught the eye of my mum and I. It was shocking to see pictures of the farm with empty dams and creeks, brown paddocks, and to learn Greg and Lauren had about 60 breeders needing feed. One bag of feed costs $20 and lasts one cow about one week; it just keeps them alive.
We know this area is in a terrible drought, and we know it’s so important to support our farmers, but sometimes people just don’t know how to help, or the best way to help. This is so simple and such a great opportunity because I know every cent of the $20 each week will help them to keep their breeders alive, and now, cow 422 has a much nicer name!
St Clare’s guides us to follow the example of Saint Mary MacKillop, “Never see a need without doing something about it” – and right now, our local farmers are in desperate need of help to keep their cattle alive, and this is something we can do that will make a real difference.
What did you learn from Lauren during your visit to Linga Longa Farm?
It is an amazing place, with cattle, chooks, dogs, and cats, and there is so much love for all of the animals, particularly little calf Darcy, who doesn’t have a mum. It was challenging to hear Lauren talk about how many breeders have died. It was surprising to learn that most farmers won’t tell their neighbours or anyone if they are doing it tough, but I am really thankful Lauren is talking about it because people need to know.
Lauren is emotional as she speaks about the choice to start “Name a Cow” at the beginning of September, as cow 523 became terribly unwell.
I’ve cried a lot since the start of doing this. It’s hard getting up every day and looking at land that is turning to dirt, and then cow 523 died. The calf had died inside her, and all week I had been hand feeding her and giving her water, and I thought she was going to give the calf. You might think, well, why don’t you ring the vet? But, I rang the vet for Darcy’s mother, and she died, and there’s $500 for the vet, and the cow is probably worth only $100 … it might sound cruel, but you’ve got to say at the end of the day, all you can do is try. We had two in the creek four weeks ago, one died two weeks ago, and one Greg had to humanely destroy because after a month it still couldn’t get up. We tried to lift it up with the tractor, and the vet said that all you can do is feed them and roll them twice a day – my arms are killing me because you are talking about a tonne animal.
This never happens to us; before the drought, we might lose an animal once every two years or so, but we’ve probably lost eight in the last two months. We’ve got a cemetery in which Greg has to bury them, and I drive past and just cry. I felt sorry for him on R U OK? Day having to destroy two animals. It’s heartbreaking and hard, because the cows are the backbone of our business, as they produce the offspring that are grown to be a
How have you seen Linga Longa Farm change after years of low rainfall?
Normally when you’re coming into spring, when you try to drive the quad bike around the feed is over the top of the bike. It is just turning to dirt now; the dams are empty, and I’ve never seen the creek dry, ever. I’ve been here 10 years, and Greg has been here 20 years, and he has never seen it like this.
How have you been managing to feed your buymeat.com.au animals, which are grass-fed beef?
Last year we were able to make our own sileage, about 150 bales, so we could get through this winter. The cattle are being fed those bales, so they are still grass meat. We’ve got about 30 bales left and if we stretch it out, that will last us three to four weeks. I can’t feed them the cattle nuts, because it’s grain.
We rang buyabale yesterday to see if we could get silage, and they can’t get any, and that just freaked us out – because they gave us some silage about 12 months ago.
What has been the initial response to the “Name A Cow” sponsorship programme?
It’s been wonderful, although it’s created a few challenges, as I have to get out and photograph the cows – and they are not really good at standing still so that I can capture the ear tag in the photo! Each cow that is sponsored is featured on the Linga Longa Farm Facebook page with their new name and a thank you to the sponsor. Some people sponsor for a week and name a cow for a week, and others are choosing to sponsor for longer; we are so thankful.