Cattle family chases rich southern pickings

25 Jun, 2003 10:00 PM
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BOYUP Brook's reliable rainfall was a big drawcard for the Pensini family when the pastoralists were looking for more land.

And the family's Boyup Brook purchase was certainly worthwhile - when much of WA was suffering from drought conditions last year, their Boyup Brook property Paraway received a total of 600mm of rain.

The family had Wyloo station in the Upper Gascoyne and was looking for land in the south to enhance the quality of their cattle, which were predominantly Red Angus and Shorthorn (with some black Angus).

Warren and Lori Pensini run Paraway, the 664ha (1640ac) property just on the western outskirts of Boyup Brook and lease another 243ha (600ac) at Karridale.

"With the station, it's a numbers game. Whatever you produce you get the same price, but down here we hope to get on top of the quality aspect and get paid accordingly," Warren said.

Wyloo has been in the Pensini family since 1976, with the western half of it having been sold in recent years.

Warren's brother Evan runs the eastern half of the station, now called Cheela Plains, which can carry up to 2000 breeders depending on the season.

Their parents, well-known cattle producers Fred and Geraldine Pensini, live in Boyup Brook.

When Paraway was bought two years ago, 600 heifers and young cows were transported from Wyloo to Boyup Brook.

Sheep had been run on the property and there were no cattle yards, so the cattle were jumped off the back of the truck.

"Most of them are pretty quiet and I believe that part of this is due to the fact that we've always mustered with horses on the station and when you're on horseback, the cattle walk towards you," Warren said.

Another factor contributing to their quietness is that on Wyloo there was strict culling for temperament.

"If they go crazy in the yard, they go on the truck - and it's paid off because we have a nice quiet herd," Warren said.

At Paraway, Warren and Lori's management includes an April drop for older females, with the heifers calving down in March - to give them time to come back on, Warren said.

They mark and tag the calves as soon they hit the ground. This kept Warren extremely busy in April, with 500 calves to mark - especially with such good mothers as the Red Angus and Shorthorns.

"The cows are inbuilt with a very protective character, probably because of the dingoes on the station and they've carried the characteristic down here," Warren said.

Warren is employing a single sire mating program so that he'll know the results of bull-cow match ups.

"Once that's up and running we'll cull 10pc of the cow herd and put in 10pc replacement heifers, initially on visual appraisal," Warren said.

"When this is more established, weaner heifers will be weighed before the bull goes in - weighing them off their mums can be deceptive."

The Paraway steers and dry cattle are run at the Karridale property. At about 20 months, they go to the butchers, with Paraway used basically for breeding up, with optimum numbers around 500 breeders.

The Pensinis are busy building up the herd, but are investigating the possibility of running a feedlot.

Pastures at Boyup Brook are ryegrass-based, with a ryegrass mix and clovers sown in for hay and silage.

Four paddocks are locked up for six to eight weeks in spring before they are cut. CSBP's Hayburst fertiliser is used to help boost growth.

Warren is keen to improve pasture and helping in this regard is Boyup Brook's CRT agronomist Graham Laslett who has recommended introduction of legumes to increase protein in the hay.

Balansa was used last year, with good results. There was already quite a strong sub-clover base on the property, Warren said.

To boost growth, Warren top-dresses 150-200kg/ha of super and potash every year, plus lime at 1.5t/ha.

He employs a rotational grazing system, not set-stocking. Cattle are moved from paddock to paddock during the growing season.

Licks are available to the cattle.

Another supplement this year was an injection of cobalt and selenium and next year these elements will go in with cattle feed.

All females get a 5 in 1 injection about a month before calving.

The Pensinis have a semen share with Neearra's Roy Morgan in a Spry's bull and Warren plans to AI 100 females this season, having learnt the skill from AI specialist Jacquie Hall when he was working for Horace Panizza at Williams for two years.

He also worked for a year on Rob Nottle's feedlot at Nebru Springs, Three Springs. Coupled with his time on Wyloo and Aprelia at Williams, Warren has a well-rounded background when it comes to running cattle.

Shorthorn genetics have been sourced from Neearra, Aprelia, Narralda, Spry's NSW), Belmore, Bayview and Carlton, all South Australian studs.

The Red Angus background is from WA studs Balaka Park and Howatharra.

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