Herd expansion using a diverse array of genetics has been the name of the game for Swan’s Lagoon business owners Peter and Brenton Malpass since they purchased the property.
The Malpass family bought the 83,569 acre former beef research station – situated 70 kilometres from Ayr – from the State Government for private use in March, 2014.
With guidance from livestock manager David Roberts they’ve increased the size of the herd to 4500 predominantly Brahman breeders plus their progeny in three and a half years.
David said Brahmans were chosen as the base-breed as they’re “well-suited for the local conditions”.
“We’re producing quiet, early maturing cattle to meet various market specifications, and using Brahmans helps us accomplish that goal efficiently,” he said.
Peter said they sell lines through the Dalrymple Saleyards during the weekly store and prime sales, but the main area of emphasis is the live export market.
“We’re producing 350kg feeders for Indonesia, and 450kg fat cattle for Vietnam, which we ship out through the Port of Townsville.”
He said they’re receiving good returns for the live export jobs, with the last lot reaching $3.12/kg.
Peter said to mitigate feed costs, they’re growing their own Rhodes grass for sileage and hay on-property.
“We also have a section of the land set aside for sugarcane, but the sileage and hay will be especially useful as we’re starting to use the 300-head feedlot here.”
To improve the overall quality of the breeding program, Peter said they’ve been buying a lot of high quality stud cows and bulls.
“We have close to 30 bulls from many different stud operations in with the breeders.
“We’re trying to get a good variety of genetics into the herd, we purchased several Elrose PTIC cows earlier this year to further this aim.
“To help create more market opportunities, we also purchased seven black Angus bulls from the Emerald Ag Show earlier this year. A lot of graziers up this way are going all black.”
David said when they attend stud sales, like the upcoming Gold City Brahman Sale, they look to buy bulls with confirmation, type and a docile temperament.
During the 2016 Gold City sale, David made the winning bid on Lance and Karen Pope’s Glenborough Robust Manso, which ended up being the top price Grey.
“He’s a good all-round bull who’ll significantly help with the breeding program. His first calves should be on the ground in 60 days.”
David said the managerial role at Swan’s Lagoon suits him well.
“I really enjoy the lifestyle, and striving to see the breeding program reach its full potential gives me a lot of satisfaction.”