Angus decision based on performance

Angus decision based on performance


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Flat Rocks farmer Clive Reinke is continuing his father's legacy by phasing out mixed breed cattle in favour of a largely Angus herd.

Flat Rocks farmer Clive Reinke is continuing his father's legacy by phasing out mixed breed cattle in favour of a largely Angus herd.

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FLAT Rocks farmer Clive Reinke farms Angus cattle with his brother-in-law Doc Baker.

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FLAT Rocks farmer Clive Reinke farms Angus cattle with his brother-in-law Doc Baker.

He credits the Angus breed for the fact there are still cattle in his paddocks while many neighbouring producers in the Kojonup, Tambellup and Broomehill regions have sold their herds to make way for more cropping hectares.

To put it simply, the family's Angus cattle outperform their mixed breed counterparts.

Operating in partnership on Clive's family's original farm, Clive and Doc run a mixed herd of 131 breeders, which also includes some Murray Grey and Limousin genetics from days gone by.

Clive's father Geoff Reinke always ran cattle apart from a three or four year hiatus in the 1980s when beef prices sky rocketed and the family saw an opportunity to cash in its herd.

His passion for cows was somewhat born from his frustration with his own father who, according to Geoff, could never be convinced to buy any well-bred cows despite having had many opportunities to pick up lines of top class Shorthorns and various crosses - a mentality symptomatic of the tough times.

But following the total clearance of the Reinke's herd in the 1980s it reestablished itself stronger than ever.

Geoff started breeding his mixed herd to Angus bulls and Clive and Doc have continued to live up to the task, even after Geoff's passing a couple of years ago.

"Angus cattle perform really well here in any given season so sticking with them has never been a question," Clive said.

"Dad started breeding from an Angus bull and had a plan to send the herd in that direction so we have just kept with it."

Clive and his family have been buying bulls from the Toovey family's Boyacup stud ever since Geoff first dabbled with Angus and the bulls and their replacement heifer progeny are helping Clive and Doc to slowly breed out the other lines of cattle.

Remnants of coloured cattle still remain but as older cows at the end of the line are culled for age they are slowly being replaced with more and more Angus heifers.

"Without us necessarily selecting for Angus replacement heifers the herd is getting blacker and blacker," Clive said.

"It starts to become clear that the Angus heifers are outperforming all others but with that said it is difficult to discount any cow based on its colour."

Currently Angus cattle account for about 90 per cent of Clive's family's herd which is pregnancy tested each year and empty cows aren't given a second chance regardless of age - which also plays into the number of heifers that are kept each year.

Cattle are usually bred until they're at least 10 years old if they're sound and sometimes even longer.

This year Clive and Doc aren't holding onto any of their heifers but will keep some replacements again next season.

Instead, they're capitalising while they have good breeders in their paddocks and the market is paying well for heifers in the saleyards.

Clive said every couple of years the pair holds back 30 or so and pregnancy tests them before adding them to the main herd which runs alongside a sheep and modest cropping program to help spread the farm's risk.

Bulls are put out with their herds in the first week of June for cows to calve in March and there's no emphasis on birthweights or 200 and 400-day weights when buying - Clive and Doc look for bulls that are big and well-muscled.

The pair are also very happy with current beef prices and recently sold all their 2016-drop steer and heifer calves at the Mt Barker Regional Saleyards.

If they aren't quite ready by February calves are held back and fattened for a few extra months.

Older cows are also sold via the same means in November.

Given the farm experienced its best feed year in a very long time in 2016 much of its oaten hay remains in stacks from which Clive and Doc have only just started feeding again in the last couple of weeks.

The bountiful paddock feed supply also made sure that the family was well-rewarded for its weaners last week, with its 107 head consignment sold under the direction of Primaries nearly topping last week's Mt Barker sale in the vealer bracket.

The sale yarded nearly 3000 head of cattle and Clive and Doc's 320-380 kilogram weaners were one of the biggest lines which was sold early in the sale.

"We have them separated into Angus and mixed breed lots in the yards because the Angus pens always attract a premium," Clive said.

While the numbers of Angus cattle on Clive and Doc's farm are steady for now, the notion that beef prices are just like every other commodity and can fall away just as quickly as they can climb, is always at the back of Clive's mind.

"If the prices stay up for the next two or three years we could potentially sell a few breeders, re-invest the takings into other parts of our cattle program and start to build the numbers back up again," he said.

"In terms of how they perform in the abattoir Angus cattle have their comparable breeds.

"But thanks to an outstanding marketing campaign they're the flavour of the month and we're more than happy to capitalise on that.

"We haven't set out to chase the market, it has happened by chance and it's just as well we got into them before they became as popular as they are now because they're expensive to buy back in at this point."

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