The Rochester family is reaping the rewards from its decision to transition away from a breeding herd to a grass feeding operation to maximise profitability through efficient, intensive rotational grazing.
Husband and wife Kent and Michelle Rochester always imagined life on the land - and when a large portion of Mr Rochester's parents Manypeaks' property was turned to blue gums in the 1990s, they thought a slow-paced hobby farming lifestyle was the dream.
With Mr Rochester being a third-generation farmer, they purchased the property from his parents, Bill and Sue, in 2005 and established what they thought would be a small herd.
Fast forward to 2023 and they have been grass finishing quality cattle on the 1200-hectare property, K&M Farming, for three years - after clearing the blue gums and sowing 800ha of pristine ryegrass clover and perennial pastures to support them.
The decision to transition from breeding their own cattle to buying in cattle and finishing them onfarm was based on feed efficiency and sustainability, driven by a passion for producing top-quality grassfed beef.
The K&M Farming team includes long-term employees Phil Harrap, Joe Bradwell, Chris Biddulph, Norm Tysoe and Jim Daley.
Throughout the year the business will process about 2000 beef carcases and has between 1200-2000 head on the property at once.
The family sources predominantly Angus weaners and yearlings from producers in the South Coast and the Southern Forests regions to supply the grassfed market all year round at Dirty Clean Food and Coles.
"We are on a continual buying rotation, replacing stock as they go out," Mr Rochester said.
"We like to purchase Angus cattle at ideally 400-480 kilograms liveweight if we can because they prove to be quite dependable which is ideal because we aim to target the top end of the Meat Standards Australia (MSA) grading system.
"Although we do tend to buy heavier cattle than we used to, we will go down to as low as 300kg if they are quality cattle in good condition and depending on the market and seasonal conditions."
With a more holistic approach, Mr Rochester was able to totally transform his farming system by decreasing the amount of time cattle spent in each paddock to increase their grazing intensity.
"Cattle will spend anywhere from two to 12 months on grass at the farm, but lighter cattle might need extra fattening therefore they will spend more time on pastures," he said.
Mr Rochester said they made a conscious effort to keep paddock sizes five hectares or smaller and rotate the cattle every one to two days.
"We will move them onto fresh grass every one to two days, and they won't return to that patch of grass until it can generate adequate feed again," he said.
"Fast-growing areas of grass won't be grazed for roughly 28 to 30 days after cattle have been moved, and during slower growing seasons they won't be grazed for 60 to 90 days."
During the grass-fattening process, the cattle will graze on pastures as well as grass-based pellets, hay, silage, canola meal and lupins over the summer if they need extra protein when the feed dries out.
"Obviously we will steer clear of any cereal grains to ensure the cattle meet the grassfed requirements." Mr Rochester said.
In addition to the farm's feeding regime, the Rochesters grow summer crops to produce feed for the drier months.
"This year we are growing turnips for the first time and they are doing really well - we plan to graze the cattle on them in a few weeks," Mr Rochester said.
Each year K&N Farming supplies 75 per cent of its meat to Dirty Clean Food which equates to about 1500 carcases, while new partner Coles receives about 500 beef carcases.
"We are working towards supplying Coles fortnightly," Mr Rochester said.
"We send beef bodies to Dirty Clean Food that dress from 300kg to 320kg, while Coles will usually request beef from us that will dress 300kg carcase weight."
Through the Dirty Clean Food partnership, the Rochester's product has appeared in many niche Perth retail stores including the Good Grocer and the Dirty Clean Food online store - and even the well-known Rockpool Bar and Grill at Burswood.
In the three years the Manypeaks producers have been in the grassfed market, they have made their mark and strive to improve through customer and restaurant feedback.
"We have managed to build a bit of a database on what seems to be working and what's not, so we are trying to build on that," Mr Rochester said.
"People now call us and tell us they've tried our steak which is really exciting, people are really starting to appreciate what we do and (that it's) grassfed beef.
"We've recently had some outstanding animals that graded well in MSA with 68+ index and marble score 7, and our beef sold out on the Dirty Clean Food site which is very exciting for us."
In conjunction with the grass fattening business, is a partnership formed with the Rochester family and friends Cody and Jess Shilling, which involves buying in specially selected Angus heifers to breed using synchronised artificial insemination (AI) to sell as pregnancy tested in calf (PTIC) heifers.
"We really want to have a point of difference to the rest of the producers and we really aim to produce top-quality stock," Mr Rochester said.
Prior to joining, the heifers spend three to four months at the property being prepared for AI.
"The preparation process consists of receiving an ear notch for Pestivirus, which has to come back negative, a Pestigard injection, mineral bolus, Ultravac7in1 vaccine and a drench." he said.
With diet also a large factor of the preparation process, the heifers will graze on pastures, as well as being supplemented with silage to ensure adequate joining weights are achieved.
"The heifers are inseminated in May with semen from Pharo Cattle Co, and then backed up by Angus bulls by the same sires," he said.
"The calves will be due to be calved down in March, so we will sell them in January.
"This season we will put them into December sales due to the current market and seasonal conditions."
Each year, the Rochesters and Shillings will keep a handful of the pregnant heifers to track their progeny's genetics so they can continue to improve their breeding program.
"We look into the genetics with the progeny we keep and put it through the MSA grading system to see if they are achieving what we hope they are," Mr Rochester said.
Experimenting has also been a big factor in producing perfect grass all year round, which was time consuming, but very enjoyable for the K&M Farming team.
"We also do some pasture renovation contracting off-farm, which gives us the ability to build up and experiment with new and different pastures at home," he said.