CHAROLAIS genetics provide the backbone of Derrol and Sue Crane’s Castle Hill beef enterprise, situated south of York.
Their 3240 hectare property is located on the edge of the Wheatbelt and cropping is the primary focus with 2225ha planted to lupins, wheat, canola and barley as well as export hay.
The couple is originally from Lake King, where they operated a grain farm before expanding into the Esperance district where the couple ran a transport business and a smaller cattle property.
There they purchased a line of Charolais-Red Angus cross females that still have progeny breeding in the herd today.
With some rocky granite outcrops on their York property, the beef enterprise takes advantage and the cattle graze where cropping is not possible so it fits in with the cropping program.
The beef herd calves out 200 head with replacements bred on the property and all sires are Charolais except one Murray Grey bull used over heifers.
A LT Bluegrass purebred Charolais sire is also used on heifers and Derrol has absolute confidence in the calving ease of this sire after four very successful calving seasons.
The heifers calve from February 15 and the main cow herd commences a bit later on March 1.
Derrol and Sue draft their cows prior to calving into heavy springers and later calvers and check their cows twice a day.
Derrol quoted a 99 per cent calving rate for the 2018 year and calving problems are non-existent for the herd.
Bulls are with the mature cows for six weeks in pairs and then swapped over to another mob for another six weeks, which protects against any problem a bull develops at joining time in the rocky country.
The country the cows are joined on can be very steep and Derrol and Sue prefer yearlings when they purchase bulls.
Recently they have selected from the Liberty yearling bull sale and have been very happy with the results.
Yearling bulls are joined and then supplementary fed after joining to give the bulls every chance of growing out.
The calves are weaned at the end of December and enter the on-property feedlot and sorted into steer and heifer pens.
Calves are fed for about 100 days on a home grain mix with access to hay until averaging 620kg liveweight.
The Charolais influence is a big advantage when these calves hit grain, which is reflected in their performance.
Finished calves are keenly sought after by processors with calves currently processed by Borrello Abattoirs at Gingin.
Borrello Meats takes pride in sourcing its cattle direct from breeders such as Derrol and Sue and being only 140km away are ideally located.
Steers and secondary heifers not required for breeding are all finished in the feedlot.
Derrol and Sue receive exceptional feedback on the carcase quality of their cattle.
They select their replacement heifers which remain in the feedlot and are joined in the feedlot in two mobs.
The steep granite country on the property where the cattle graze comprises native pasture and a paddock has also been sown with Serradella, a highly productive pasture legume producing a large amount of biomass as well as fixing substantial amounts of nitrogen.
Rotating the cattle from the rocky country to stubble paddocks works very well for Derrol and Sue and the temperament of their herd is outstanding.
Cows must have excellent structure to handle the rocky steeper ground as do the sires being used and the Cranes have a very commercial focus for their cattle herd, appreciating the growth, muscle and temperament the Charolais sires add.
Derrol and Sue both enjoy working with their beef cattle and have found the Charolais breed can offer them the productivity and performance to take advantage of the end feeding program.
While cropping is the primary focus of their business, Derrol and Sue enjoy producing a quality beef animal that is keenly sought after by the processing industry.
Story supplied by Colin Rex, Charolais Society of Australia.