22 Aug 2020

Burly Bulls - Northland farmer Anna Blair raises bulls from tiny calves to strapping 600 kilogram bruisers

From Country Life, 5:24 pm on 22 August 2020

There is a lot of testosterone on Anna Blair's farm.

She shares her property with up to 1,200 bulls.

Anna farms bull beef 25 minutes' drive north-west of Dargaville in Northland.

The burly animals stack on about 570 kilos during the 18 months to two-and-a-half years they are with her.

Anna, who farms with the help of a part-time worker, says her bulls are generally well behaved.

"Because I rear them from little fellas, they're little boys, they see and know me... and they are not afraid.

"It's only when they start hitting 18 months and they're basically a teenage boy and their hormones fire up (that they) start digging holes and breaking fences and being a pain."

Anna says bulls fight a lot. They hate interlopers.

"As a yearling bull, if someone who is not from their mob jumps in, they will chase them around and around and around the paddock and they can kill them if you don't get onto it fast and fix the problem."

She says all animals are unpredictable and she has only feared for her safety once or twice.

"I've been pinned to the ground by a bull but it wasn't one I reared and it was my own stupidity."

Anna wanted him to cross a bridge and he wasn't keen. She didn't heed his warnings.

"So he charged and had me on the ground and was having a little play with my ribs but my dogs came in and barked and he ran away."

Anna says she's careful not to be distracted when she is working with bulls. She won't answer her phone.

"It's like driving. You've got to have that situational awareness."