Top genes food for thought for Geddes family

Banquet bulls the best on menu at Holbrook

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Helen and Colin Geddes are finding favour running Angus stock that are fast growing and easy to manage.

Helen and Colin Geddes are finding favour running Angus stock that are fast growing and easy to manage.

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Banquet Angus stud is meeting the needs of the Geddes family at Holbrook

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Fast-tracking steer growth for a quick turnover is a key objective for the Geddes family in their Angus cattle enterprise at Holbrook.

Getting stock to saleable weights as early as possible allows them to then run more stock and optimise returns per hectare across their property, "Warranboo".

The 1620ha farm, owned by David and Gail Geddes, their son Colin and his wife Helen, carries 200 cows and up to 6000 composite sheep for prime lamb production.

But the family is in a livestock expansion phase, pursuing this through animal genetic gains and making pasture improvements by changing-up to more modern varieties.

"We are building-up our cattle numbers and need to be in a position of turning-off steers earlier by growing them faster," David Geddes said.

"It is about making higher profits more often - and in a shorter time period.

"And that closely aligns with the primary breeding objective of our Angus seedstock producer, Banquet Angus stud, which is run by Stephen and Noeleen Branson."

This impressive bull was bought from the Banquet Angus stud by David and Gail Geddes, Warranboo Partnership, Holbrook, for $13,000. Pictured with the bull are Banquet stud principal Gordon Branson, Mortlake, Victoria, Gail and David Geddes, and Elders Holbrook agent Tim Wright.

This impressive bull was bought from the Banquet Angus stud by David and Gail Geddes, Warranboo Partnership, Holbrook, for $13,000. Pictured with the bull are Banquet stud principal Gordon Branson, Mortlake, Victoria, Gail and David Geddes, and Elders Holbrook agent Tim Wright.

This year, the Geddes are also carrying out a trial aiming to inject some hybrid vigor into their Angus herd by mating about 40 per cent - or 90 head - of their heifers to a Hicks Beef black composite bull.

"We want to see if this tactic will be worth it, and if it will provide any vastly different results from pure Angus breeding," Mr Geddes said.

"We will be closely assessing progeny weight gains between the pure Angus and crossbred groups and seeing if the crossbreds will finish earlier at the same weights as the pure Angus.

"We are not looking for gains in frame size in the herd, it is really all about growth."

Mr Geddes said he tried some crossbreeding about 10 years ago, but found the hybrid vigour didn't really provide a lot of gain in weight improvements or boost returns.

"It wasn't really worth the effort, so I went back to straight Angus production," he said.

"We know the Angus cattle do very well in our environment.

"But we are going to give it another go, without being committed to continuing this if it doesn't add value."

The Geddes have set-up their cattle enterprise up for mating in May-June to produce autumn-drop calves that are grass-fed.

Their target market is feedlotters and the goal is to supply them with 500 kilograms-plus steers - and any cull heifers - at the age of 14-months.

Two or three regular northern New South Wales feedlots buy their stock every winter.

The feedback is these cattle perform very well on feed, and then at the processors.

Fast-tracking steer growth for a quick turnover is a key objective for the Geddes family in their Angus cattle enterprise at Holbrook.

Getting stock to saleable weights as early as possible allows them to then run more stock and optimise returns per hectare across their property, "Warranboo Partnership".

The 1620ha farm, owned by David and Gail Geddes, their son Colin and his wife Helen, carries 200 cows and up to 2000 sheep for prime lamb production each year.

But the family is in a livestock expansion phase, pursuing this through animal genetic gains and making pasture improvements by changing-up to more modern varieties.

"We are building-up our cattle numbers and need to be in a position of turning-off steers earlier by growing them faster," David Geddes said.

"It is about making higher profits more often - and in a shorter time period.

"And that closely aligns with the primary breeding objective of our Angus seedstock producer, Banquet Angus stud, which is run by Stephen and Noeleen Branson."

This year, the Geddes are also carrying out a trial aiming to inject some hybrid vigor into their Angus herd by mating about 40 per cent - or 90 head - of their first-time calving heifers to a Limousin bull.

"We want to see if this tactic will be worth it, and if it will provide any vastly different results from pure Angus breeding," Mr Geddes said.

"We will be closely assessing progeny weight gains between the pure Angus and crossbred groups and seeing if the crossbreds will finish earlier at the same weights as the pure Angus.

"We are not looking for gains in frame size in the herd, it is really all about growth."

Mr Geddes said he tried some crossbreeding about 10 years ago, but found the hybrid vigour didn't really provide a lot of gain in weight improvements or boost returns.

"It wasn't really worth the effort, so I went back to straight Angus production - as these cattle do very well in our environment," he said.

"But we are going to give it another go, without being committed to continuing this if it doesn't add value."

The Geddes have set-up their cattle enterprise up for mating in March to produce autumn-drop calves that are grass-fed.

Their target market is feedlotters and the goal is to supply them with 500 kilograms-plus steers - and any cull heifers - at the age of 14-months.

Two or three regular northern New South Wales feedlots buy their stock every winter and the feedback is that these cattle perform very well on feed, and then and at the processors.

Mr Geddes said his family had been using bulls from Banquet Angus, based at Mortlake in south western Victoria, for about 15 years.

The stud is increasingly being recognised in industry for breeding high impact growth steers on bigger, longer and thicker frames, from which to "hang meat on".

Its recent bull sales have attracted strong demand and values have skyrocketed to hit a high of $41,000 (achieved in spring 2020).

Stud principal Stephen Branson said steers with Banquet Angus bloodlines were actively sought-out by backgrounders and finishers.

"They are increasingly finding they will achieve heavier exit weights and, consequently, more profit by buying our type of cattle," he said.

Mr Geddes said he always tried to secure bulls towards the top end of the Banquet Angus annual sale lineup - or at least in the best performing 50 per cent for key production traits.

He said his selection focus for the family's Angus herd was on Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) for for 200, 400 and 600+ day growth, marbling score positive, medium birthweight and positive rump fat.

"We have pushed the birthweight parameters out a bit lately and got away with this in terms of maintaining ease of calving," he said.

"On the whole, we are making good genetic gains in all of our preferred breeding traits."

To ensure optimum productivity of their pasture feedbase, the Geddes have a long-term improvement program in place.

Most of their property has a phalaris-clover mix, with some ryegrass, and newer varieties suited to their soil types and environment are being tried as they become available.

The goal is to push the feed conversion efficiency of their livestock.

Silage and hay are produced on the farm and used when seasonal conditions require some stock supplementation - typically in summer and parts of some winters.

"We will often give pregnant cows hay or silage in the lead-up to calving," Mr Geddes said.

He said there was also careful attention paid to the amount of paddock feed available to stock at any one time, which then determined rotations through paddocks.

The Geddes have significantly invested in infrastructure on their property in the past decade, including upgrading and covering their cattle yards and installing a Gallagher TSi Livestock Manager system.

They use a Gallagah TSi, which Mr Geddes said was one of the most high-tech pieces of farming equipment they owned and a valuable cattle management tool.

David Geddes uses a Gallagah TSi, which he says is one of the most high-tech pieces of farming equipment he owns and a valuable cattle management tool.

David Geddes uses a Gallagah TSi, which he says is one of the most high-tech pieces of farming equipment he owns and a valuable cattle management tool.

It records and collates weight and other data for immediate access to information, and to analyse longer-term trends.

The system is coupled with KoolCollect, which is an automatic data collection software designed by Sapien Technology to track and match information to animals, using their individual identification.

Mr Geddes found learning to navigate it reasonably straightforward.

"It's certainly saving us money and it's been one of the best investments we could have made to complement our cattle yard redesign," he said.

Mr Geddes said he was excited about being involved in the cattle sector going into 2021, with exceptional seasonal conditions and cattle prices being experienced across his region.

The story Top genes food for thought for Geddes family first appeared on The Land.

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