A successful Angus and Poll Hereford crossbreeding program is giving Lower South East weaner producer Krongart Pastoral Company an edge in producing top quality weaners.
Manager Jamie Catlin has been impressed by the added milk, fertility and doing ability of their black baldy females.
“It is all about getting more weight for age,” he said.
The 1420-hectare property, south of Penola, runs 900 breeding females, comprising mainly Angus and Angus-Herefords.
The red gum studded property has been in the Skene family since the 1860s and has a long history of breeding quality cattle.
Mr Catlin – who has been the manager for the past three years – says the excellent spring and genetics contributed to some of their heaviest weaners ever.
The calves sold on AuctionsPlus in mid-December averaged 356 kilograms at nine to 10 months of age.
In the past, Krongart was renowned for its Hereford bullocks but about a decade ago began infusing Angus and a few years after that targeted another market with success: weaners.
This decision has enabled them to run more breeding females.
Thomas DeGaris & Clarkson agent Jamie Gray has high praise for the Krongart herd, especially its docility.
“We put 700 calves through the yards when we are drafting them and they are some of the quietest calves I work with all year,” he said.
“The Angus puts a bit more milk into the Hereford and the Hereford puts the hybrid vigour into the Angus.”
“It is a better dual-purpose animal that can produce a vealer straight off mum or be grown out to bullocks.”
To make the most of the Angus breed’s latest genetics and ensure calving ease, Krongart has artificially inseminated its heifers for the past seven years.
It uses technicians from Nationwide Artificial Breeders, Noorat, Vic, to inseminate 160 retained heifers due to calve at the same time as the main herd.
Semen from Rennylea Edmund E11 and Ardrossan Maternal Power were used for the latest joining.
For the past couple of years, surplus to replacement Angus heifers have been sold for live export.
Cattle prices are back from the spectacular highs seen in early 2017 but both Mr Catlin and Mr Gray say the industry is still in a good position, as long as steers remain above $3/kg liveweight.
“If they are maintained at current levels pre the New Year hiccup it is attractive for a producer and sustainable for processor,” Mr Catlin said.
“If we can average $1100 to $1200 for steer calves and $1000 for our heifers, that is about the mark,” Mr Gray added.
The majority of Krongart’s heavy loam paddocks are a phalaris and clover mix but about 250ha of higher country is cropped each year using a Maaoupe-based contractor.
Last year, 100 hectares was sown to wheat, 100ha triticale and 50ha of faba beans, which are being used to finish 600 crossbred lambs.
“Livestock and cropping seem to be a good combination and we grow all our own hay,” he said.
Krongart weaners attract online buyers
THE annual draft of Krongart’s Angus and black baldy weaners have earned an outstanding reputation with both feedlotters and grass finishers for their weight gain and performance.
The majority of the March/April-drop calves, which are sold online through AuctionsPlus about a fortnight before Christmas, are snapped up by repeat SA and Vic buyers. This was also the case in December, when 315 calves topped at $1378 and averaged $1236.
The European Union-accredited and Pasturefed Cattle Assurance System calves are drafted into 30 kilograms to 50kg weight ranges, making it easier for buyers to buy large, even lines to fill two decks or B-doubles.
They are weaned about three weeks prior to sale.
Krongart manager Jamie Catlin says their preference for on-farm selling for the past seven years is two-fold – good animal welfare but also chasing a good price.
“Selling them straight off the place is ideal, they are weaned and have had all their treatments so they go straight to the purchasers’ property and keep stacking on weight,” Mr Catlin said.
Structure key to longevity in breeding herd
STRUCTURE is the first and foremost consideration for Penola’s Krongart Pastoral Company in its bull selection, looking for sires with sound feet and legs.
“We go into a pen at a sale and if a bull looks structurally sound and we like it only then will we look at figures,” Thomas DeGaris & Clarkson agent Jamie Gray said.
He says good structure is critical to ensure the longevity of females in the herd.
“Krongart is retaining a big wing of heifers and we hope those cows will be around for 10 years – it has got to be able to walk from this end of the paddock to the other and rear a calf,” Mr Gray said.
“If (the cow) is not structurally sound it is no good,”
Manager Jamie Catlin says Breedplan figures are also a handy guide, with strong emphasis on moderate birth weight, good early growth and positive milk and fat traits.
Krongart has sourced Angus genetics from several SA studs including Coolana and Yalkuri, Meningie, and Glatz’s Black Angus, Lucindale.
It has been pleased with the herd’s genetic progress.
“A lot of it has to do with the season but we were only saying earlier the steers are stretchier and rounder,” Mr Catlin said.
The Krongart herd was once Poll Hereford females but through the years the numbers of pure Herefords has dwindled to 100 as the Angus influence has grown.
To maintain the profitable black baldy-cross they have bought Poll Hereford sires from Morganvale, Willalooka, and Allendale, Bordertown, to put over Poll Hereford females.
The bulls are put out for an eight-week joining.