Angus provides perfect breeding base

31 Jan, 2015 01:00 AM
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Recent positivity in the cattle market has been encouraging for cattle producers such as Green Head farmer Simon Brockman. The Brockmans run a herd of 1250 Angus breeders, half of which are mated to Wagyu bulls.
It's nice to see the cattle market doing well, it can only be a positive...
Recent positivity in the cattle market has been encouraging for cattle producers such as Green Head farmer Simon Brockman. The Brockmans run a herd of 1250 Angus breeders, half of which are mated to Wagyu bulls.

THERE'S no better breeding base than Angus, according to Simon Brockman.

The Green Head farmer has spent years refining his core herd of 1250 Angus breeders at his 4250 hectare property north of Jurien Bay, ensuring each animal remains productive and commercially viable.

After branching out from his 250ha family base at Capel, where his parents Ted and Fiona Brockman and his sister Fliss and husband Dave Brophy still farm, Simon wanted a breed of cattle that appealed to numerous markets.

The obvious choice for him was Angus, so together with his wife Annabelle, they established a top quality Angus herd after the family purchased the Green Head property in the late 1990s.

In order to broaden their market appeal, they added Wagyu to their operation 12 years ago, combining Wagyu bulls with Angus breeders to create the ultimate first cross calf.

What began as a small crossbreeding trial has now grown into half of their 1250 breeders joined to Wagyu bulls, while the other half are mated to Angus bulls for replacement breeders.

Producing cattle for a premium market such as the F1 Wagyu-Angus has at times been a gamble for the Brockmans, who initially started selling the calves to a feedlot in southern Queensland at 280kg, so they have always maintained a strong Angus base.

"I've always liked the Angus breed, it's very versatile and what the supermarkets want," Simon said.

"But we could also see that Wagyu is a premium product and there is a market for them, so we wanted to incorporate that into our herd.

"We've got a pretty handy maternal Angus breeding base and I would be reluctant to ever move away from that.

"At the end of the day, if you are producing the best product you can and there is a need, then people will always pay good money for them."

The F1 Wagyu-Angus calves are now sold to a local feedlot in December when they reach a goal weight of 280kg.

All the calves are monitored and weighed in order to be sold within the optimum parameters, as Simon said cattle producers are only given one opportunity to sell cattle and he wants to make sure they maximise their returns and potential.

Hitting weight targets are also affected by feed conversion and growth rates, so the selection of replacement breeders and bull genetics plays an important role in the Brockman's breeding program.

The females are joined to the Angus and Wagyu bulls in mid-June for three cycles and Simon said they have consistently achieved good calving percentages when they drop in March, April and May.

Sometimes the young Angus females and first calvers are joined to Wagyu bulls for their first mating, as the smaller-sized progeny helps to reduce calving problems.

Feed is also an important factor in the Brockman's system, as the cattle spend most of the year grazing on paddock pastures such as clover and ryegrass, while Simon crops 150ha of oats every year to boost their supply.

It is the only cropping he carries out, preferring to spend his time in the cattle yards rather than in a tractor and once the feed drops off at Green Head, he has the option to cart some of his cattle either to Capel or his father-in-law Tim Cocks' 50ha Coolup block.

There's usually not too many cattle left once he reaches that point in January, as the F1 Wagyu-Angus calves have usually already been sold by December and the remaining Angus calves ready to be sold.

The Angus bull calves are sold to the bull calf export market from September to December, while all the Angus heifers, culled cows or any light calves are sent to Capel to capitalise on the green summer feed still available in the south.

Any Angus heifers that haven't been kept as replacement breeders are then sold to a regular buyer.

The system works well for the Brockman family and has proven to be particularly rewarding in recent times since the cattle industry has enjoyed a revival in the last six months.

"It's nice to see the cattle market doing well, it can only be a positive thing for WA agriculture," Simon said.

"China has been a game changer and helped push the prices up, so cattle producers are hopefully going to be paid decent money now.

"I can't really see a downside at the moment and it's all looking quite positive.

"So hopefully if there is a bit more money in it again, people will start reinvesting in agriculture and the cattle industry."

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READER COMMENTS

Aaron Edmonds
1/02/2015 10:01:38 PM, on Farm Weekly

No doubt you will fully capitalise on the opportunities ahead of you ol fella. Good things come to the patient. Catch you at the 30 year reunion ;)

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