A recent relationship formed with a Bordertown butcher is enabling the Kroehns at Keith to not only sell their vealers direct locally, but with more price certainty.
Graeme and Amanda Kroehn run 60 cows on 800 hectares, as well as a Merino and prime lamb operation and 300ha of cropping.
Mr Kroehn has produced vealers for a long time, with his family history in dairy at Springton.
"If a dairy cow didn't get in-calf to the Friesian bull, it would get a beef bull over it," he said. "The beef calves would be sent to our Keith property to be finished on summer lucerne, along with the dairy heifers."
But when Mr Kroehn branched out from the family dairy in 2003 and moved to Keith, he increased the vealer production.
Today, the Kroehns run mainly Angus cows with some Red Angus and Murray Greys at Keith.
Two Red Angus bulls were run with the cows year-round, until one was recently replaced with a Speckle Park bull.
Mr Kroehn said the Red Angus were good for temperament, growth rates and carcase quality, while he was eager to see how the Speckle Park genetics performed in comparison.
The vealers were sold at the Naracoorte weekly prime sale, with the Kroehns at the mercy of the market.
Because we run the bull in with the cows all the time, we only sell small lots every so often, so the butcher trade suited what we were doing.
But Mr Kroehn said a relationship formed with local agents Thomas De Garis & Clarkson a few years ago opened up new marketing options.
Their agent Murray Jones introduced the Kroehns to Richards Quality Meats at Bordertown.
"Because we run the bull in with the cows all the time, we only sell small lots every so often, so the butcher trade suited what we were doing," Mr Kroehn said.
"Now we sell direct to the meatworks from the paddock, all within the space of a few hours.
"Richards prefer it that way because the meat is fresh out of the paddock with minimal travel time.
"We also like that as locals, our product is kept local."
Mr Kroehn said price was negotiated on local market value.
"Selling direct helps us know what we are going to get price-wise before they leave the farm," he said.
"Selling year-round also means we attract good prices at odd times of the year.
"We have also reduced transport costs significantly."
Mr Kroehn said they aimed for a spring to autumn calving, but this varied on herd management.
The calves are sold off their mothers once they hit 380 kilograms to 400kg liveweight at about 10-11 months old.
"Calves that dress 200-240kg fit domestic sales," Mr Kroehn said.
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The cows feed on lucerne and clover-based pastures, with supplementary hay fed out in summer.
The cropping operation is also livestock focused, comprising 60ha of oats, 100ha of wheat, 50ha of barley, 40ha of beans and 40ha of lupins.
Mr Kroehn said they were lucky to get through the year without buying in feed.
"We make plenty of hay, which helped with the recent tougher seasons," he said.
"We normally hold two years' worth, but that has been depleted. We are lucky, like most, that it rained."
They recorded 70 millimetres in May and another 25mm last week.
The Kroehns also run 750 Merino ewes - 400 of which are self-replacing, while 350 are mated to Suffolks.
The lambs drop in April and are sold by September, mainly to supermarkets.
Terradisc helps to level out paddocks
WANTING to reduce the amount of chemical used to kill weeds, the Kroehns at Keith bought a Pottinger 4001T Terradisc Speed Tiller five years ago.
The compact disc tiller is also good for stubble cultivation, while Graeme Kroehn said they also use it to level out uneven paddocks post-livestock, and to incorporate clay/delved areas.
"While many farmers steer clear of tillage, we find it is still required on-farm - maybe once every three years," he said.
"It helps us rely less on chemical for weed control."
About a year ago, Mr Kroehn modified the machine by adding an airseeder box, to distribute pasture seed while tilling.
"We can now level paddocks and seed at the same time," he said.
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