SIMMENTAL genetics have been producing the goods for Glyn Yates who has been farming in the Collie district for nearly 20 years.
Across two properties Glyn operates about 404 hectares on which he runs about 250 head of cattle.
His breeders are purebred Angus but from the get-go, Glyn has been putting his trust in the Simmental breed when it comes to bull selection, producing sleek, well-grown calves with all the potential which comes with hybrid vigour.
“We’ve actually been using Black Simmentals from the Bonnydale stud since the Introvigne family has been in them and we bought red Simmental bulls from them before that,” Glyn said.
“In my time, there has always been a Simmental bull running with the herd.”
The female herd started with some first-cross cows with one or two remaining, but Glyn said for a long time the breeders on the property had been straight Angus cows.
“We also spent a bit of time trying Angus bulls but we found we lost that hybrid vigour and they were a bit more temperamental than I would have liked them to be,” Glyn said.
“But with the Bonnydale cattle, we have no temperament issues and the Black Simmental-Angus cross calves grow really well.”
The mix of an Angus cow and a Black Simmental bull is a good one according to Glyn.
“It’s a really good mix in terms of the calves it produces, but at the end of the day the main thing is that the market really wants black beef,” he said.
“So you’ve got to grow what is going to sell well in the current market and these Black Simmental-Angus calves fit the bill.
“They grow nicely into all-round quality calves and get the results at the saleyards.”
It is clear a positive working relationship with the Introvigne family at the Bonnydale stud makes a difference for Glyn.
“The Introvignes are really focused on trying to do the right thing by the grower,” he said.
“They want to be producing the sort of cattle their clients are looking for, so I’ve found sticking with them is the way to go because they really care about the results their bulls are producing at my end.
“Sometimes I feel as though they’re more interested in my cattle than I am.”
Hybrid vigour is a big drawcard for the use of Simmental genetics over his Angus herd, but Glyn said it was not the only advantage.
“That’s certainly an important part of it though,” he said.
“The Black Simmentals from Bonnydale have a really good temperament which is another really important thing.
“Mike and Rob are really professional and allow us to go and have a look at the yearling bulls a few weeks before the sale when they’re drafting them.
“So we’re able to go and walk around the cattle when they’re in a group and we have more opportunity to compare their behaviour rather than when they are penned individually for sale.
“You can look at the breed tables which is great as well, but I think there’s value in having that opportunity to see how they behave in a group.”
Rather than running a self-replacing herd, Glyn buys in Angus heifers which are already in calf and takes care of them the first year, followed by pellet feeding the second year in order to get them into optimum condition for their next pregnancy.
“We do select low birthweight bulls but we have so few issues, that of all the things I think about – problems at calving time isn’t one of them,” he said.
When asked how often the operation experiences problems with calving, Glyn offered to show Farm Weekly the barely-used calf-pullers he’s had sitting in the shed for a decade.
“If I was to pull one or two animals a year, it would be really quite unusual,” Glyn said.
“I think that comes down to looking after your cows as well as selecting the right bulls, but in general the Black Simmentals have given us no problems.”
This year’s March-June calf drop is going well.
“Generally we wean the calves and sell them directly after that,” Glyn said.
“The very top lines go straight to processors but most probably leave here at around the 320-350kg mark, so they’re not quite finished and they typically go to feeders.
“We’ve also had people who are after first-cross calves and will buy some of the heifers to breed with them.”
When it comes to joining, Glyn said they ran the bulls relatively heavily at about 1:25 but the results spoke for themselves.
“At this property for example we have about 80 cows and run three bulls with them but we didn’t get a single empty – not one,” he said.
“All up we’ve got about 250 breeders between the two farms and we only had about seven empties – some of those cows are 15 years old.
“That’s a pretty remarkable result and speaks to the fertility and work ethic of the bulls from Bonnydale.”
Speaking of bulls, Glyn has well and truly got on the yearling bull bandwagon which is becoming more popular with each passing bull sale season.
“We look after our bulls so I have no problem with needing to spend a bit of effort managing them,” he said.
“It’s easy to say there’s more work with yearling bulls and there is, but actually if you do the right thing, there’s more work with two-year-old bulls because if you put a two-year-old bull with a four-year-old, it’s going to get belted, so you’ve got to wait until there a bit more evenly aged before you put them in together.
“We tend to run the bulls a bit longer to make sure we give the cows every chance to get in calf, and all that means is that we might have a few more drafts when it comes time to sell them.
“But also, quite often we can do quite well out of the smaller calves at this time of year if people want to buy them to grow them out.
“And because they’re Angus or Black Simmental-Angus cross, they have potential beyond heading straight to the processors if someone is looking for this sort of replacement.
“We certainly have plenty of options when it comes to the Black Simmental-Angus calves.”