Young farmer inspired by Angus breed

Young farmer inspired by Angus breed


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Young beef producer Ryan Willing, East Condingup, is building a successful enterprise on the back of the Angus herd he is developing.

Young beef producer Ryan Willing, East Condingup, is building a successful enterprise on the back of the Angus herd he is developing.

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YOUNG Angus breeders looking for an inspirational figure need look no further than Ryan Willing.

Aa

YOUNG Angus breeders looking for an inspirational figure need look no further than Ryan Willing.

Last year, the 25-year-old bought himself a 1050 hectare patch of land on the edge of the Cape Arid National Park, over 100kms east of Esperance, on which he is now running 250 head of Angus breeders with a view to expand.

"I've been farming since I was 17 and it's always been about the Angus breed for me," Ryan said.

"My parents have Angus on their own property and I knew the breed worked well in the area.

"So Angus was the obvious breed of choice when I made the decision to go farming on my own.

"In my opinion they're a great type with that easy marketability factor."

While there is plenty of room for innovation and growth within his enterprise in the future, Ryan doesn't have any plans to move away from the Angus breed.

"The Angus are just a hardy cow with excellent longevity," he said.

"They're easy to finish, they convert feed really well and are just a really good all round cow."

Between Ryan and his parents, Angus bulls are bred on-property through AI joining in a program that Ryan runs himself.

"Using AI to breed our bulls means we can easily drive the genetics of our herd in the direction we want," he said.

"At the moment I don't use AI in the main herd, but it is definitely something I'm interested in looking at increasing in the future as it helps to close the calving window among other things."

Ryan said he prefers to use Australian studs to source his genetics.

"I figure there is a benefit in breeding from Australian born and bred animals that isn't shown by EBVs," he said.

"I don't have a preference for any particular stud but I have used a lot of Te Mania and Ayrvale genetics in the past.

"For the 2016 AI program I used Bowmont Jackpot J310."

When it comes to mating, the heifers are given a shorter window of time than the cows.

The heifers have six weeks with the bulls at five per cent, while the cows are given nine weeks at 2-3pc.

The bulls also join with the heifers a cycle earlier than with the cows, giving Ryan the opportunity to use the same bulls to cover the cows and giving the heifers three weeks extra before they are joined the following year.

The drop begins in the last week of March with yard weaning conducted in six day blocks in December, at 150 weaners per block.

"I work on keeping all my weaners where possible," Ryan said.

"Basically 75pc of the heifers are kept as replacements, because I'm still building my numbers.

"I select them a month or two after weaning so I can run them separately on the best tucker so they're in prime condition for mating.

"The steers and cull heifers left over are also fed well and are made ready for the Woolworths grassfed market in September."

Ryan said providing for the September grassfed market means he needs to stay on top of monitoring weight gain to narrow down the best performers in the herd.

"I weigh everything regularly to ensure I stay on track with the direction I'm aiming for," he said.

As a part of the feeding regime, Ryan thinks crop grazing is essential to keep his animals going with significant weight gain throughout winter.

"I'm still working out what works best for me," he said.

"2015 was the first year I did it and I learnt a lot.

"Last year I planted 70 hectares of feed barley which supported all of my steers and another 100 cows with calves at foot throughout the entire winter.

"The steers demonstrated huge weight gain (1.67 kilograms per day) and the cows were supporting their calves while gaining condition so there's clearly a huge benefit in crop grazing.

"In the future I hope to look into things like cell grazing because of the capacity for the crop to sustain larger amounts of stock, but at this stage I'm still working out the best way to go about it."

Ryan also feeds a lot of hay, mostly during the calving period to keep the cows with calves at foot in condition and regularly injects supplements such as multi-minerals and vitamin B12 to keep his cattle in top order.

"The injections really make a difference, especially in this area," Ryan said.

"I started injecting regularly about three years ago and the impact was obvious.

"There is a clear difference in condition, the colour of the coats and the amount of time it takes to finish an animal."

But running his own operation isn't the only pie Ryan has his finger in.

Ryan also manages a neighbouring property for an international entity looking for a low risk investment.

This means the operating style is fairly simple, but Ryan believes he has managed to effect a bit of change since taking over.

"When I took over management, there were cows ranging from Charolais to Herefords to Gelbviehs," he said.

"It took a bit of work but I've managed to turn the herd around by adding Allegria Park Angus stud bloodlines to create some uniformity which is obviously easier to market."

Ryan is also a member of the newly formed beef focussed sub-committee of ASHEEP which keeps him actively involved in field trials and information sharing between beef and sheep producers in the Esperance region.

"I think as producers there is a lot we can learn from each other," Ryan said.

"So I'm glad to have the opportunity, through an organisation like ASHEEP, to discuss and address industry issues in the area."

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