A PASSION for genetics and the use of heterosis in the herd has assisted beef producers Alan and Sue Kelly in achieving some great results.
With 34 years of farming behind them, the Kellys made the decision to move from Middlesex in 2012, where they harvested apples and avocadoes, to east of Manjimup where they currently farm 243 hectares and run 150 breeders.
The Kellys purchased their first Gelbvieh embryos in 1994 and established their own stud Braeside Gelbvieh.
"We enjoyed the stud stock game for a number of years but made a lifestyle choice to slow down and focus on crossbreeding, enhancing carcase traits in our vealers and producing more moderate framed, thick, easy-doing females," Alan said.
The Kellys moved onto their property east of Manjimup in 2012 and today have 40 Gelbvieh, 40 Red Angus and the balance of Gelbvieh-Red Angus and Angus cross females roaming their paddocks.
For the past 20 years they have globally sourced Gelbvieh semen and have focused on infusing American and Canadian purebred polled genetics into their herd.
"I'm not one to source the latest and greatest genetics, however I have been specific in choosing sires that have proven themselves over a period of time," Alan said.
"Some of the full blood semen I have collected has been sitting in my tank for over a decade, however I couldn't be happier with the selected young bulls I have kept as back-up sires this mating season.
"Early maturing, low birthweight, good carcase trait sires are selected for our females.
"Having focused heavily on these attributes, we have little calving difficulties in our herd."
When selecting their heifer replacements, similar guidelines apply and often only the top 15 early-maturing, easy-doing females with good milking ability are kept.
"We are looking to infuse more Gelbvieh into our Red Angus herd and focus on increasing the Gelbvieh and Gelbvieh-Angus herds maybe up to 160 head."
The emphasis on previously scanning their stud females for eye muscle area and fats show the effort the Kellys have gone to in achieving the results they have with their vealers calves.
For the past three seasons their calves have been sold directly off-farm into the feedlot market.
Alan said with the assistance of local Landmark agent Brett Chatley they were able to get a B-train load out in December to a coastal feeder one month earlier than usual.
"Our mixed-sex calves came straight off their mothers averaging 360 kilograms liveweight," he said.
"This was slightly back from the 380kg average in 2018 possibly because of the dry season and the decision to quit them one month early."
This season the Kellys received premium prices for their calves, with the lot feeder agreeing to his original offer, despite a price fall in the market at the time.
Proving that Gelbvieh genetics are some of the better around, Murdoch University farm manager Kim Thomas has formed a strong relationship with the Kellys and had a lot of success with their cattle in recent times.
Since 2013, Mr Thomas has been showing their females and bulls and more recently has been purchasing steers for students to prepare and lead at the Perth Royal Show.
Last year the university exhibited a purebred Gelbvieh steer bred by the Kellys and it was sashed champion extra heavyweight carcase and reserve champion extra heavyweight on the hoof.
It weighed 598kg liveweight, dressed out at 65.8pc to give a HSCW of 393.4kg, while recording a 115cm2 EMA, 8mm P8 fat and 7mm rib fat.
This wasn't the first time Murdoch had won champion ribbons with a Kelly-bred beast.
In 2018 it exhibited the champion and reserve champion lightweight carcases and both exhibits were Gelbvieh-Murray Grey steers, sire by one of the Kelly's Gelbvieh bulls.
The champion steer, which was also sashed the grand champion exhibit on the hoof, had a live weight of 384kg and dressed at 69.2pc to give a HSCW of 265.8kg.
It recorded 100cm2 for EMA, 9mm for P8 fat and 6mm for rib fat.
Mr Thomas has already made his selection for the 2020 Perth Royal Show, recently hand-picking three quality steers he believes have the genetic potential and performance to win.
While there is a top priority on carcase traits, performance and temperament in the Kelly's herd, they have also been implementing a pasture management programme for the last six years.
"We have been planting perennial ryegrasses as well as addressing the lime deficiency in our soils," Alan said.
Getting the fertiliser requirements accurate on the farm has vastly increased the amount of hay rolls the Kellys made last year.
"We cut 700 rolls which is wonderful as this year's summer is shaping up to be a tough one," Alan said.
The Kellys finished last season off with 40 millimetres of rain in Spring but if they hadn't received it when they did, Alan said they would be in dire straits now.
"We could be struggling more and are fortunate we have a good bore because not all of our dams are full," he said.
"Nonetheless, we keep doing what we do because we love it and I know our children and grandchildren get as much enjoyment out of it as we do."