GOOD quality pastures, finding the right genetics and a stress-free environment go a long way to producing quality Angus cattle, according to Myponga grazier Janet Furler.
Mrs Furler and her father Richard Willing run 120 Angus breeders between their two properties at Myponga and Parawa, alongside their flock of 200 Dohne ewes.
The duo appreciates a quiet herd of cattle, and say their cattle’s calm attitude begins in the paddock.
“When we bring them up to the yards, we take our time and let them imagine this is where they want to go,” Mr Willing said.
“We make it so they don’t mind coming up to the yards and they know it’s going to be an easy day.”
He says “troublemakers” are sent to the markets, while the “good students in the class” stay on-farm.
The Minnewarra farm has used Pathfinder bloodlines for the past 10 years.
The bloodlines’ ease of calving and impressive growth rate statistics play an important role in the family’s breeding program.
The cow to bull ratio is about 1:30 and heifers are first joined at 15 months old, usually in May for about nine weeks.
Calves drop from late February to April and are weaned at 10 months or at time of sale, and sold to saleyards, butchers or straight to feedlots, depending on the present market.
“For heifers, one of the main genetic traits we like is ease of calving,” Mrs Furler said. “It means we spend less on vet fees and having to constantly check on the animals, and less time stressing the cattle out bringing them up to the yards to help them calve.
“Therefore, we have a better productivity.”
The best heifer calves are retained on-farm as part of a self-replacing herd, and are taken to the Parawa farm for mating, before returning to Myponga for calving.
Mr Willing said the north-facing pastures at Parawa were ideal for fattening cattle.
“It is quite good land for the cattle, it is warm and grows a lot of grass, and in autumn they are supplemented with oaten hay,” he said.
In addition to a rigorous genetics selection, they have gone to great lengths to improve the pastures on their property.
When the land was bought 40 years ago, Mr Willing said it was “quite run down” and required some work.
“We have improved the pastures and made sure there is plenty for the animals to eat,” he said.
While their Angus cattle graze at both Myponga and Parawa, having good quality pastures has always been important.
And with their sheep, the lambs are supplemented with lupins and oats, while the cattle receive oaten hay.
This season, the duo’s pasture improvement involved 14 hectares of phalaris paddocks which were sown in August last year.
The family will graze the phalaris paddocks for the first time in autumn.
“We are hoping the phalaris will be useful in our pasture improvement,” Mr Willing said.
Last season, the family trialled forage brassica to rejuvenate poor-performing hay paddocks to address the summer feed gap.
Mrs Furler said it would allow for an extra feed source during summer.