A simple approach to changing breeds

27 Dec, 2016 02:00 AM
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David and Suzie Styles with their children Naite (left), Mietta, Elsie and Brydee.
David and Suzie Styles with their children Naite (left), Mietta, Elsie and Brydee.

THE Styles family has been farming land in Condingup, east of Esperance, since the area was cleared decades ago.

Beef has always played an important role in the family's farming operation but son David is taking his side of the business in a different direction.

David, his wife Suzie and children Mietta, Elsie, Brydee and Naite, have caught the Angus disease.

The family used to run Herefords but David saw the potential the Angus breed could bring to the enterprise.

"The Herefords had a few problems," David said.

"There were some eye issues and they got that bit too fat which isn't what lotfeeders are looking for.

"The progression into Angus was an obvious choice.

"This is because they're hardy and do well in the area.

"We've only had them for a couple of years now and the results have been good.

"We've moved away from eye cancer problems, not to mention the easy marketability of the Angus breed."

David and Suzie lease a farm from David's parents, putting the couple in charge of 800 hectares and 150 breeders.

The Styles family is a fantastic example of a young family willing to try new things to move their business forward.

To continue growing their business which also currently includes a cropping rotation and a hay contracting business, the Styles family is looking at increasing the number of breeders in their herd.

"There's still some Hereford and Murray Grey blood left in the herd," David said.

"But we mostly buy in bulls from Esperance local Angus stud Allegria Park to continue introducing that Angus quality into the self-replacing herd.

"We currently still use some bulls we've bred on property but we're looking at moving towards completely outsourcing our genetics in the future."

The bulls join the breeding herd at the beginning of June for three months on rotation at a four per cent ratio.

"We put the bulls in with the heifers a bit earlier than we do with the cows, just to give the heifers a bit more of a break in between calves," David said.

"We've found the practice is showing positive results."

And that is as lenient as the Styles family gets when it comes to the heifers who have no excuses when it comes time for pregnancy testing.

"If she's not pregnant, she's on the truck," David said.

"We're not interested in carrying any heifers not in calf, especially when we're trying to up our numbers."

The herd grazes perennial, serradella and clover based pastures.

"We bale up barley straw which really helps the herd through winter when there is a lot of water in the other available food sources."

David said they do also cut a bit of weedy barley and retain some hay through their hay contracting business.

By acquiring hay through contract jobs from other farmers, the Styles family doesn't tie up their land unnecessarily with crops for hay which could otherwise be grazed or cropped with cereal grains.

The herd drops in March with the calves left on mum for eight to nine months.

"At weaning, we try to get it done and dusted before Christmas which fits in well with harvest," David said.

"We yard wean for at least a week and the weaners will then go on to a barley stubble for a month or so for backgrounding.

"Running the weaners that way makes use of the stubble and prepares them nicely for the feedlot.

"We sell dependent on how they're looking - while they're still gaining condition we keep them and sell to the local feedlots once there's nothing more they can gain here."

It might be a simple beef operation, but the Styles family proves simplicity can equal success.

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