Making the change to breeding pure Angus cattle has increased market opportunities and in turn, profits, for Rendelsham producers, Nick and Karen Ellis.
The couple, along with their young children, Maeva, Hugo, Dulcie and Sylvie, and Nick's parents Les and Yvonne, have been using Angus genetics for the past five years, and continue to be impressed with the breed's performance.
"My family had always run Poll Hereford cows joined to Simmental bulls," Mr Ellis said.
"But in 2015 I couldn't sell my crossbred calves and times were a bit tough.
"I sent all the Hereford cows to the meatworks and bought a draft of Angus cows from the Adelaide Hills and changed over to a black herd within a week.
"Moving to Angus has been a game-changer for us, every marketing door has been opened since we've gone that way and it doesn't look like it is going to stop."
From the original herd of 60 cows and 20 heifers, the Ellis family have gradually built up their numbers. They currently run 400 breeders on their 1200-hectare property, Roseneath, in the state's South East.
- Balancing breeding and feeding for top quality Angus steers
- Monview has no reason to change a good run with Angus
- Crossbreeding with Angus pays in feeder focused production
"When we sold the first draft of black steers the tops weighed 420 to 430 kilograms at only 8-9 months of age which surprised us as we did wonder if the weaning weights of the pure Angus would be as good as our crossbred calves," he said.
"We consistently average about 340-360kg at weaning over the entire mob.
"These results have certainly confirmed we made the right decision to continue with Angus."
The family also runs 1600 first-cross ewes and 400 Merinos for wool production and produces about 600 bales of silage and 1200-1500 bales of pasture hay annually.
The cows are joined on April 20 for 12 weeks to start calving in early February.
Moving to Angus has been a game-changer for us, every marketing door has been opened since we've gone that way and it doesn't look like it is going to stop.
Bulls are sourced from the Glatz family's Glatz Black Angus stud at Avenue Range with a focus on maternal traits such as calving ease and fertility as well as carcase quality, including intramuscular fat and eye muscle area.
Growth rates including 200- and 400-day weight are also important.
"I'm a bit old-fashioned, I like to select bulls with a nice diamond-shaped Angus head for ease of calving," Mr Ellis said.
"All the bulls are low birthweight too, I've hardly pulled a calf in the past five years.
"I want to make sure the bulls will fit our herd's style, I'm looking for a medium to large frame, good body depth and plenty of fat cover.
"One of the biggest benefits of changing to black Angus is that we have saleable cattle year-round, whether it's cull cows through the winter time, or weaners, they are always in good nick."
The herd and any young cattle are supplementary fed about three times a week during summer and autumn, with Mr Ellis preferring to use silage in the drier months and feed hay as winter roughage.
About 80ha of broad beans are also grown, providing valuable stubble grazing for lambs and weaner cattle during summer.
"We aim to have all our cows and ewes in forward condition during mating which usually coincides with an early break when the feed starts to take off, so all the stock join up really well."
The cows are pregnancy scanned, achieving an average conception rate of more than 90 per cent which Mr Ellis is pleased with.
The calves are yard weaned on hay for 7-8 days in November and educated extensively through the yards. They are then drafted into their sexes with the heifers moving onto better quality pasture paddocks to be grown out.
Normally the steer portion is sold privately within 2-3 weeks of weaning. The Ellis family has an established base of repeat buyers who purchase their quality steers each year to grow them out to bullocks.
This year, they have decided to keep the steers and grow them out to be sold in August, at 18 months of age, directly to JBS or Teys.
"By then they should be pushing 550-600kg liveweight," Mr Ellis said.
"I would like to work towards retaining more steers and growing them out to hopefully access the premium export market."
For the first time also, last season's drop of heifers is being sold through Elders International's live export order to be used in Chinese breeding programs.
"It is a lucrative market when it is available and nearly every heifer we weaned fell within the market specifications.
"We've got our breeding numbers up to a level where I felt we could have a year off and take advantage of this market."
While the Ellis family were building their herd numbers, 80pc of the heifers were retained with older cows culled more heavily.
Heifer selection is based on frame size, depth of body and structural soundness.