Room for improvement

Wagyu the choice for Carmichael Station


Cattle National
Brandy-Lee and Mick Shannon, of Carmichael Station, with their mob of F1 Wagyu.

Brandy-Lee and Mick Shannon, of Carmichael Station, with their mob of F1 Wagyu.

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Carmichael Station managers running F1 Wagyu

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WHEN Mick and Brandy-Lee Shannon first took up the reigns at Carmichael Station, their thoughts immediately turned to improving both the herd and the land.

The Shannon’s have managed the 21,300ha property about 260km south-west of Charters Towers since December 2016 on behalf of Hewitt Pastoral Enterprises.

They run an F1 Wagyu mob, purchasing cows and calves when they first arrived, Brahmans and a cross-bred mob, but their aim is to run a purebred herd of Wagyus over time.

Mr Shannon said they have 160 F1s, 800 Brahman cows, 150 cross-bred cows and another 600 heifers.

“We've got an F1 Wagyu mob, a cross-bred mob and then pretty much a Brahman mob running in the heartland,” he said.

“The Brahmans, we're putting short-horns over them so the idea is to go into a purebred herd of Wagyus over time.”

Mrs Shannon said they had recently artificially inseminated the 160 F1s and the cross-breed cows.

”The plan was to AI the rest of the cattle on the property, but with no rain we've just got the the bulls down instead of AI-ing,” Mrs Shannon said.

They recently bought an L10 bull for the AI program, and have Shorthorn bulls from Marellan Shorthorns, and three Cashmere Droughtmaster bulls. Bulls went out on January 27, and Mr Shannon said he has a strict three-month mating window.

“We’re running off one strike (fertility), for everything including the Wagyu’s,” Mr Shannon said.

“If we sell more than the numbers we have to replace, we can just buy PTIC cows; it’s a lot better and it’s easier on the country.

“It takes too long to fatten the cow here too, so when we pregnancy test them and they’re empty, they’ll probably just go to the feedlot.

The Shannons said they had Wagyu weaners and the second lot of Wagyu calves on the ground and they were happy with their progress in the northern country.

“The thing with Wagyu is they're reasonably tough, they're tougher than most breeds other than Brahmans, they're more fertile, they're more docile, you run more per acre.

The Shannons are turning off progeny at about 400kg and are producing for the feedlot market.

Both Mick and Brandy-Lee have done their RCS Grazing for Profits and Next Steps course and said their goal was to manage a property like Carmichael.

“It has been ideal, it was pretty run down when we first moved here,” Mrs Shannon said.

“The first thing we did was put cattle in to mobs and start rotations.

“The country is very dry and we don't have much grass but they're going ahead, they're not losing weight.”

The property received 333mm of rain last year, with the biggest rainfall event in October. They only received 10mm during the widespread rain in North Queensland earlier this month.

The Shannons said matching their stock rate with carrying capacity had been their biggest challenge.

“That was probably our biggest one, to know the growth rate of this pasture, it is totally different out here,” Mrs Shannon said.

The story Room for improvement first appeared on North Queensland Register.

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