Having a go with beef and avos

30 Nov, 2016 07:32 AM
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Scott Dunnet runs Angus and Murray Grey breeders on his properties in Pemberton with Charolais bulls used over the Angus for added thickness in the calves, ideal for the Dunnet family's on-property feedlot.
Scott Dunnet runs Angus and Murray Grey breeders on his properties in Pemberton with Charolais bulls used over the Angus for added thickness in the calves, ideal for the Dunnet family's on-property feedlot.

PREPARING for the fourth generation to return to the family farm has meant looking in new directions for the Dunnet family, Pemberton.

With Scott Dunnet's son Allan due to finish school at WA College of Agriculture, Narrogin, soon, things are starting to change in the family enterprise.

The family recently purchased a second property, increasing their land holdings as part of their plan to build in the future.

In addition to the feedlot established in 1994, Scott runs 200 Murray Grey and Angus breeders in separate herds.

"I'm trying to gradually improve the numbers so there'll be work to share when my son is here full time," Scott said.

Around 20 Angus heifers are bought in each year to add to the breeding herd and Scott wants to acquire more land where possible.

This is in addition to the feedlot that carries 2200 head on average each year, stocked primarily by local beef producers.

"We're happy with the size of the feedlot business so we're focusing on upping the numbers on the breeding side of things."

The Dunnets have majority Angus breeders running on their property which are covered by Charolais and Angus bulls.

"We've gone with the Angus mostly because of their popularity in the market.

"But they're also extremely hardy.

"They can handle the environment when things are tough and if there's less food they always seem to pull through and keep on going.

"The bit of Charolais blood adds that extra thickness into the calves."

The inclusion of a Murray Grey herd into the enterprise in recent years is also working well.

"My son Allan likes the Murray Greys which is why we decided to give them a go," Scott said.

"And they're performing quite well alongside the Angus.

"I like the similarity in traits between the breeds.

"But the Murray Greys have a particularly excellent temperament which makes them easy to deal with."

Temperament is key here with no room for unsettled stock.

"We cull for temperament because they perform better when they're calm, but also because we don't want a stressed environment in the feedlot," Scott said.

Scott said there was never a temptation to cross the Murray Grey and Angus breeds.

"They perform well individually but we're also finding that butchers prefer the straight breeds at the moment," he said.

When it comes to bull selection, Scott doesn't have a stud preference.

"We go to field days and check out breeding values for low birthweights because we really want easy calving for the heifers in particular," he said.

Currently the Dunnets have Copplestone Charolais, Cherylton Angus and Monterey Murray Grey sires working on the property.

The bulls go in at a 1:50 ratio at the beginning of June for three months.

All bases are covered by rotating the bulls, but if a heifer isn't in calf after her first joining there is no leniency.

Calving starts around April and at weaning only the very best of the weaners go to the feedlot, with the rest sent straight to the saleyards.

The feedlot caters to Harvey Beef and Dardanup Butchering Company (DBC) with 100-day hormone-free feeding for the animals that will go to Harvey Beef and 75-day feeding for the stock going to DBC.

Scott said he was finding the European cross to work well in the feedlot because the cattle don't get as fat as the British breeds.

"So we'll continue to go with the Angus, Angus cross and Murray Greys in our own breeding program because we know they'll produce the results," he said.

And in a slight turn of events, avocados will also join the enterprise with Allan talking his dad into adding 500 trees in the near future.

The trees take at least five years to mature but the business is willing to make the long-term investment.

"A lot of the farms in the area are going that way and the return is pretty good so I let Allan talk me into it," Scott said.

"The only problem is we can't graze the cattle on the plantation so we'll need to work around that.

"But Allan is keen to give it a go so I'm willing to support him."

Avocados and beef?

Sounds like a good combination.

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