CHARBRAY TESTIMONIALS - 2008
Jeremy Cruikshank Testimonial - 4 December 2008
Price advantage and adaptability for coastal Charbrays
By Martin Bunyard
A smoothly managed operation near Piora, west of Casino, runs an innovative Charbray breeding program, which handles the coastal conditions of the area, while attracting a premium price in the local market.
The New South Wales north coast property ‘Woodlands’ consists of 285 hectares of black soil flats that rise to forest country, and endures the humid, high rainfall conditions of coastal climates. To make best use of the land, co-owner and manager Jeremy Cruickshank introduced the Charbray breed to the property, and has since reaped the rewards.
Since the herd’s conception five years ago, 200 breeders have been accumulated, including 50 foundation Brahman females sourced from Tartrus, Allawah and Danarla studs. Full French Charolais bulls from ANC and Advance studs are joined to these females, with the progeny targeted for commercial and seedstock markets. Their first IVF embryo calves are due this December, the result of a program run with Dallas Kropp of Dallas Ranch Charbrays at Proston, using full imported Hudgins blood Brahman heifers and full French bulls.
In the ‘Woodlands’ operation, the top 10 percent of male offspring are kept as bulls, after passing rigorous selection criteria, which includes aspects such as growth rate, temperament and skeletal structure. These bulls are then supplemented on a home mix ration, and are primarily sold privately to local commercial producers through the seedstock side of the operation, Maximus Charbray stud.
“The Charbray breed is certainly increasing in popularity in this area, as producers are seeing the results of using the bulls,” Mr Cruickshank said.
“Processors and butchers are realising the value of Charbray carcasses for the local trade and the premium is there for good Charbray cattle.”
This premium is certainly being received by the Cruickshank family, who focus on producing functional, early maturing cattle that are suited to the area. Once the bulls are selected from the group, an additional 10pc are kept as replacement heifers, while the remaining 80pc are targeted to the local vealer and yearling trade.
Two years ago Jeremy initiated a deal through local agents George and Fuhrmann, which enabled him to supply 20 carcasses a week to local butchers. The cattle are short fed on a premixed grain ration for 60 days, and sold from 10 to 14 months with a dressed weight aim of 160kg to 200kg, and 6mm to 10mm of fat.
“For the right article that meets their specifications, the butcher shops are paying a premium. We haven’t had a carcass yet that hasn’t met their requirements, so we’ve been enjoying a premium of 15cents to 20cents a kilogram. This premium was even higher when the market was down earlier this year, we were receiving $2.70/kg dressed.”
Mr Cruickshank has found that the Charbray breed is an ideal mix for their area, combining the doing ability and high milking attributes of the Brahman breed with the bone and muscle qualities of the Charolais.
As the soils in the area are lacking in nutrients due to leaching caused by high rainfall, the Brahman content also provides the fertility and foraging ability needed to handle these conditions. Buffalo fly and parasites are also an issue on the coast, which the Charbray breed has proved to handle well.
The Cruickshank operation, owned in a family partnership with Jeremy’s parents, is managed by Jeremy and wife Trina, with their two daughters Jessica and Laela.
They will continue to use Charbray cattle on their property as an ideal breed for their country and to successfully target the local market and receive a premium.
Don Heatley Testimonial - 23 October 2008
Weight for age a priority
By Katie Lloyd
The aim of the game in the Heatley family’s beef operation is to produce a heavier animal at a younger age, and according to Don Heatley, the use of Charbray genetics is most definitely assisting in meeting this objective.
Don and his family own and operate a beef breeding and fattening operation on their two properties in northern Queensland. Located about 50 kilometres north of Home Hill, Don said that he had been using Charbray bulls over Brahman females successfully for a number of years.
“About eight or nine years ago we commenced growing irrigated leucaena and saw the impressive results it could return from a fattening perspective. It inevitably forced us to look for an animal that had the right attributes to make the most out of the crop and Charbrays have proven to be the right article,” Don said. “They have a bit more bone and muscling and go on to produce an optimum result when finished on the leucaena.”
All male progeny are grown out on the crop before being turned off bound for the Jap Ox market. Many cattle are sold to JB Swift at Townsville and Don said that feedback had been good. “The reports we get are pleasing. We have dentition down to milk and two teeth, with a maximum of four, and our cattle are meeting MSA grading requirements,” he said.
Don believes the use of Charbrays has certainly put more weight for age in his male cattle while adding a bit more bone and scale in the females, which eventually go on to be used in the family’s cross breeding programme. He is more than happy with the job they are doing and has no hesitation in recommending them as a breed. “We will most definitely continue using them as a cross over our Brahman and Droughtmaster females. They have returned some excellent results and we’re more than pleased with the outcome,” he said.
Greg & Cheryl Coutts Testimonial - 11 September 2008
By Katie Lloyd
As the dry seasons set in, it became increasingly obvious to Greg and Cheryl Coutts that a more robust animal was required to handle the tough conditions at Greg’s Dirranbandi based breeding block. Having already used Charolais cattle successfully in their operation, the progression to Charbrays seemed to be the obvious choice.
“Prior to Christmas last year our property at Dirranbandi had been affected by severe drought for the major part of the past five to six years. Drought makes the conditions tough and we found that the Charolais bulls we were using just could not cope,” Greg said.
Three properties are used in the Coutts operation. The home block “Nahcub” based at Wandoan is primarily used as an opportunity finishing block growing oats, forage and leucaena. Their breeding herd is based at “Oinmurra” at Dirranbandi while another property at Taroom is leased for backgrounding purposes.
According to Greg, the ongoing drought has played havoc with their operation and like many, has forced them to reassess their business objectives. “Before the drought we were aiming to breed and fatten cattle for the Jap ox market however the season forced us to change direction. Our long term goal would be to return to supplying the export job although for the time being we’re concentrating on rebuilding numbers and selling our stock to the feeder market,” he said.
The integration of Charbray genetics has been a successful one and both Greg and Cheryl credit the breed for their excellent qualities. “The reasons we have so much confidence in the breed is because they are a tougher animal; the Brahman content gives them the qualities to survive the dry times. We’ve also found the Charbrays will put down a more even fat cover than Charolais and this puts the beast right where you want it. Structurally we believe the Charbray bulls are far sounder when compared to other bull breeds we have used and this is important when factoring in the job they have to do,” Greg said.
Brahman bulls are used over higher content Charolais females while Charbray bulls are used over the balance of the breeders which Greg describes as being more in line with Charbrays. In recent years the majority of sires have been purchased from Huntington at Taroom. The Charbray National Sale at Rockhampton also offers a broad pool of genetics. Greg said that he and Cheryl looked for a number of qualities when selecting bulls for their operation. “Temperament is extremely important to us and because of our environment we need bulls with very sound legs and feet; they have big distances to get around so this is an important trait. We also prefer bulls with beefy attributes and an even fat cover as these are generally easier finishers. And naturally we want a bull who will go on to produce daughters who will be good mothers and milkers,” he said.
Greg believes that everyone has their own preference and objectives when it comes down to breeding cattle and when assessing his own operation, is happy with the direction he and Cheryl are taking. “We needed an animal that could withstand the conditions of our property and while this is being achieved we’re also really pleased with the weight and conformation of the cattle we are turning off,” he said.
Andrew Mactaggart Testimonial - 8 September 2008
By Penelope Arthur
CENTRAL Queensland cattleman Andrew Mactaggart believes good bull selection is the key when it comes to stabilising a Charbray herd.
The Mactaggart family have been breeding Charbray cattle since 1979 and Andrew has generations of breeding records to back his statements on the performance of a stabilised Charbray herd.
“With generation breeding you do lose some of the initial hybrid vigour of the first cross, but in this environment you are still way in front of either of the parent breeds,” he said.
Based at “Balcomba” Marlborough, Andrew operates in partnership with his wife Claire, parents John and Julien, and brother Michael and wife Kylie.
The family run 2400 breeders across several properties in the Moura and Duaringa districts, including a purebred herd of 1100 Charbray cows.
The progeny are finished for the domestic MSA and grass fed Jap Ox markets with the help of a supplementary feeding program at Bear’s Lagoon, Moura.
The Mactaggart family have been breeding Charbray cattle since 1979, and since then, have maintained a balance of 50pc Brahman and 50pc Charolais genetics in the herd using only Charbray bulls.
Andrew said they breed a large number of their own Charbray bulls and also source genetics from Huntington, Greenfields and Burnside at Springsure.
He said the selection of good bulls is vital when it comes to stabilising a Charbray herd. “Our herd bull selection is done on growth rates, age of puberty, temperament, muscling and type,” he said.
“We know our bulls are out of cows that have a proven record for age of first calf, calving interval, temperament, and conformation.”
“In the future we are also looking to apply some selection using gene markers for carcase attributes.”
The Mactaggart family have a 12 week joining period and have been consistently calving their heifers out at two-years of age for over 10 years.
Andrew said fertility is the number one consideration when it comes to females and all cows and heifers are pregnancy tested annually with no second chances. “Our mature cows are consistently achieving pregnancy rates of 88-95pc and our maiden and first calf heifers are generally in the mid 80pc range,” he said.
“We are extremely happy with the fertility of the females - to be getting these results year in year out, is a good endorsement for the breed.”
“Our weaning weight indicator of kilograms per breeder joined, puts us in the top 20% of our benchmarking group, as is our reproductive index of calves weaned per breeding animal.”
Andrew has also been impressed with the performance of the Charbray progeny and said around 75pc of the cull heifers have graded MSA off grass at 26 – 30 months while the males are consistently hitting the J4 market. “Any steers that won’t grade Jap at the end of the second growing season are grain assisted which is usually around 30pc of the drop,” he said.
Charbray Society vice-president and Taroom seedstock producer Matt Welsh agrees that performance does not need to be compromised in a Charbray herd. He said it’s a common misconception among cross breeders that they will lose hybrid vigour and animal performance if they move to a stabilised herd. “There are a lot of breeders that have used Charolais bulls over Brahman cows and are unsure what to do with their first and second cross cattle,” he said.
“Provided these people use the right type of Charbray genetics they have much to gain from stabilising that line of cattle with Charbray bulls.”
“If you are careful about the genetics you are using and select bulls that compliment your cow herd while maintaining extra muscle and thickness, then you won’t compromise the genetic gains you have made with your first cross.”
Don Heatley Testimonial - 14 August 2008
By Queensland Country Life
NORTH Queensland's heat and humidity can provide for tough conditions for livestock, but for grazier and MLA chairman, Don Heatley, Charbrays are standing up to the climatic challenges. Mr Heatley and his family run two grazing properties in the Burdekin region - Byrne Valley, Home Hill, 200km south of Townsville, and Fanning River, 200km west of Townsville.
The Heatleys produce cattle predominantly for the Japanese, US and Korean markets, and have been using Charbray bulls on their 4500-head cross-breeding operation at Byrne Valley for the past six years.
"The herd is a Bos Indicus base through the females but we use Charbray bulls on Byrne Valley," Mr Heatley said. "We use the Charbrays to put increased muscling into the progeny. "We started using them at Byrne Valley because with the progeny, we wanted to give ourselves a better opportunity to finish cattle faster on our large-scale leucaena operation.
"The Charbray-cross creates a good weaner steer which we take through to a Jap Ox on the leucaena." Mr Heatley has 507ha of leucaena which he finishes the cattle on. He said despite Byrne Valley's semi-coastal climate and conditions, the Charbray bulls and their progeny handled the conditions well.
"We have a controlled mating program for our bulls - they work hard when they're out in the herd, and conditions are good when they are on a sabbatical. "They also handle the parasite situation well - we have ticks and buffalo fly in this area but the bulls handle it no problems at all."
Andrew Rolf Testimonial - 10 July 2008
By Queensland Country Life
Charbray genetics have shown their versatility to the Rolfe Family in Central Queensland’s Highland region. Whether it was targeting the Japanese market, turning off Jap-Ox bullocks, or supplying to the stringent market requirements of the EU, Andrew Rolf has found the Charbray cattle to be very versatile for his family run operation, consisting of over 15,000ha in the Springsure district.
Andrew and Julie Rolfe along with Andrew’s parents Ian and Norma and sister and brother-in-law Debbie and Don Orford work about 3000 head on their family conglomerate of properties west of Springsure where the country ranges from wattle, scrub country to good buffel country.
“Charbray cattle have always been able to meet the market for us, even in tough times. They can be crossed over any breed to an advantage and they are very fertile.” It was in the late 1970s when Andrew’s grandfather happened upon Charolais cattle in France and was determined to see them introduced over their Santa Gertrudis Brahman cross cows.
The result of this cross ultimately led to the family developing a Charbray based breeding herd. Since then the Rolf family have seen the Charbray thrive with excellent results. “We buy most of our Charbray bulls out of the paddock from Charles and Carmel McKinlay, Comet. They have done an incredible job of producing good doing bulls that pass on the characteristics we look for. They have been a great source of Charbray genetics as they are always introducing new blood and we believe the Brahman and Charolais really compliment each other”.
Some of the characteristics Andrew finds advantageous in the Charbrays are the fact that they are low maintenance; they handle the weather conditions in CQ; they generate an ideal carcase; and don’t cut their teeth too early, resulting in a high percentage that fit the EU market grade.
“We take great pride in producing healthy grass fed beef that is very close to organic.We love the country we operate in and we go to great lengths to maintain it for the future generation”.
Andrew Mactaggart Testimonial - 10 July 2008
MALCOLM McCOSKER found that Charbray genetics used in two different ways are delivering a consistent higher production edge to the Mactaggart family properties in Central Queensland.
WHETHER it is with a virtually pure Charbray herd or using Charbray bulls over Hereford/Brahman cross cows, there are standout benefits emerging from both systems for the Mactaggart family's group of properties that include Moura and Duaringa districts.
A prime example of this duality in Charbray benefits is evident on Andrew and Claire Mactaggarts' Balcomba property located at Duaringa and their Yanina property at Moura. Both properties are within a larger family operation that had its genesis when Scottish immigrant John Mactaggart married Julien Wilson, a daughter of the noted Wilson family of Calliope Hereford breeding fame.
John and Julien developed a headquarters cattle property Bears Lagoon at Moura, with John also rising fast through agripolitics to become president of the peak industry body Cattle Council of Australia. They had two sons, Andrew and Michael and a daughter Katrina.
Andrew and his wife Claire now operate and reside at the 18,225ha Balcomba property with a Marlborough mail address and located near Duaringa and also own Yanina, an 8100ha property at Moura managed by Alastair Corr and his wife Jenny.
Two different systems of using Charbrays at these properties demonstrates the versatility of the breed as a deliverer of superior performance and beef quality in both cases. The attachment to Charbrays goes back to when John and Julien Mactaggart started to breed Charbrays in 1979.
When Andrew and Claire took over Balcomba they brought in existing family Charbray genetics and also bought bulls from various studs, including Huntington at Taroom, Greenfields at Jambin, and more recently Burnside at Springsure.
Only one or two Charbray bulls from outside studs are bought in each year. These are used in an internal bull breeding unit to supply bull requirements across the properties. With the cattle herd at Balcomba having been originally Hereford, the Mactaggarts used Brahman bulls over Hereford cows to develop a crossbred breeder base, then put Charbray bulls over these females as a terminal sires. They now run 1200 breeder cows at Balcomba.
The different system at Yanina, running 500 breeder cows, uses a virtually pure Charbray herd. Both places target Japanese ox grassfed and grain assist markets for steers around 2.5 years old also deliver a very saleable extra product of Charbray cull heifers that achieve around 80pc of Meat Standards Australia (MSA) grading.
Grassfed bullocks dress from 330 to 350kg and on a strong market can return up to $1000 per head. Grain assist bullocks of the same age dress marginally heavier and earn a commensurably higher comeback price.
Slaughter cattle form the Mactaggart properties are delivered to Teys Bros works at Biloela and Rockhampton, often delivered by a trucking system within the overall family ownership.
Joining on both properties starts in December with bulls taken out of the cow herds in the third week of February. Weaning can depend on the season and usually starts in early April the following year lasting until mid June, with calves put onto better paddocks to overcome weaning stress before going out to graze and grow.
Pastures on Yanina are principally buffel grass planted into cleared brigalow scrub country, with the rest of the land form running up to ironbark and spotted gum ridges. Water is supplied by surface dams feeding into cattle troughs.
Balcomba is made up of around one third flooded country on the McKenzie River, another third of undulating to steep country improved with green panic pastures and the remainder rosewood and ironbark standing timber with some forest grasses underneath. The river flats have improved green panic and buffel grass, chaning to native bluegrass on the loamy country and into speargrass and other natural species in the harder forest portions.
Water in the McKenzie River country is mainly natural, with higher country supplies coming from bores and dams. When seasons harden the Mactaggarts provide supplementary feeding with urea roller drums plus nutrition supplied in a reticulated water system.
Andrew Mactaggart describes the benefit of Charbrays as well balanced cattle with good growth, high fertility and excellent carcase qualities.
"With them we can maintain the adaptability that Brahman content delivers while still reaping the benefits of high quality carcase beef as the end product," Andrew declared.
Denis Conway Testimonial - 2 June 2008
By Katie Lloyd
It was about 20 years ago that Denis and Jill Conway of “Currawong”, Taroom started running spreadsheets on the performance of their cattle. It was this that ultimately made them stop and look at their operation and determine what breed of cattle would have the greatest impact on their back pocket.
Having experimented with a range of different breeds over the years, the Conways were impressed with the results they saw after fattening some Simmental cross, Charolais cross and Charbray cattle. Denis said the cattle performed well on his country and he was impressed with their doing ability. “These cross breeds did well on the initial spreadsheets. The beauty of Charbray cattle is that as the season conditions change and get tougher, they have the capability of walking out to forage whereas other breeds can tend to stay close to water,” Denis explained.
Denis and Jill's operation focuses on buying in and finishing cattle for export markets and at times, the domestic market. Wherever possible they source cattle directly from producers otherwise go through the saleyard system. Cattle are bought in at around 220 to 280kg, or lighter if the season permits, and depending on their market can be turned off anywhere from 520kg.
While preparing cattle on oats was once a part of their programme, today, due to ever increasing input costs and dry seasons, the Conways have recently turned to leucaena. Denis stated he still has a lot to learn about the crop however said the cattle were still making adequate weight gains. “It's certainly not delivering the same results as an oats crop however the cattle are performing well,” he said.
Feedback from his suppliers has been good and Denis is confident that Charbray and Charbray infused cattle deliver over the hook. “The kill sheets reflect the ability of the cattle and the processors are generally very happy with their bone out yield.”
Combined with their doing ability and yield return, Denis has also noted that Charbray cattle seem to cut their teeth later than other breeds. “A percentage of our cattle aged between 20 to 24 months, were killed in NSW a few years ago and when mouthed the majority were milk tooth and some two tooth. I have certainly noted a lot of other breeds cutting teeth before that age; this is a plus for the Charbrays,” he said.
What Denis concedes is out of his control but is of maximum importance is genetics. He believes Charbray breeders must take the time to select bulls that will compliment their female herd and go on to produce better calves than they expected. “I am not a breeder and may not be in a position to comment, but I believe if you take an average cow and cross it with a well above average bull, you will end up with an above average weaner. When breeding Charbray weaners, the sire used needs to be soft, thick and deep to ensure it will go on to produce calves that will potentially produce greater weight gains,” Denis said.
The Conways are pleased with the outcome Charbray and Charbray infused cattle have had on their business and believe they have a lot to offer the beef industry both now and in the future.
Randal & Tanya Ziesemer Testimonial - 19 May 2008
By Katie Lloyd
A move into Charbray genetics has been a rewarding one for Taroom district beef producers Randal and Tanya Ziesemer of Beaumont Grazing Company. While it’s still considered early days, the Ziesemers are confident it’s a move that’s heading their operation in the right direction.
Their property “Beaumont” was purchased by Randal’s family back in the early 1960s and originally started out as a bullock fattening operation. While it ran a few breeders, and included some farming country, it wasn’t until Randal and Tanya took over that things took an entirely new path.
“The property was bought back in 1962 and originally we started out fattening Hereford bullocks. We farmed up until the mid 1990s but eventually decided to give that away and focus purely on breeding and backgrounding cattle,” Randal said.
With a second property later purchased in the nearby Wandoan district, today Beaumont’s main purpose is to finish cattle. “We run a few breeders here but most of them are at our Wandoan block. The country there ranges from brigalow/belah to lighter forest while Beaumont is good bottle tree country - perfect for finishing,” Randal said.
The decision to go into cattle breeding can be tough but for Randal it just “fell into his lap”. When the opportunity to purchase some Charolais stud cows from Biloela presented itself, Randal thought he’d take a punt assuming it would be a good money making venture. The move turned out to be more than just that and instead became the foundation of his future operation.
“We ended up joining those original cows with both Charolais and Santa Gertrudis bulls and they produced some excellent calves. We were selling these calves as weaners but the buyers later reported that they were having trouble finishing them. As a result we decided to change our focus and look at Brahmans. It has been a gradual move over the past three to four years and we’re really pleased with the Charbrays,” Randal said.
In recent years Randal and Tanya have also been buying in Charbray replacement heifers to add to their breeding herd. This has been another decision that has proved a success. “It’s helping us boost our numbers and they have been a great addition to our existing herd,” he said.
According to Randal the most obvious advantages of the Charbray cattle is their great growth rates and their ability at finishing faster. “Our buyers have since told us that the Charbray infused cattle we’re breeding are an easier product to do something with and we’re seeing really good results in the paddock. Our breeders are standing up to the tough seasonal conditions and seem to take it all in their stride,” he said.
At present Randal and Tanya breed and sell their progeny off as weaners in the paddock to a number of repeat buyers. “Ideally we’d like to take our calves through to Jap bullocks and sell them directly to processors, but at this stage we don’t have the country to do that. Down the track we’d also like to explore the feedlot avenue and see what results that can potentially deliver,” Randal said.
At present the Wandoan property carries a complete herd of 500 Charbray females while the home block carries a further 300 Charolais breeders. The Charbray dams are crossed with Charbray bulls sourced from numerous studs throughout Queensland while Charolais and Brahman bulls are used over the Charolais females. “We’re steering away from using too much pure Charolais with the Charbray females and instead are looking at bulls with 50/50 content. Temperament is a big thing when selecting sires for our operation and we also look for softer bulls which tend to produce calves with a better finishing ability. I’m certainly not into big framed bulls and tend to go for those with a more moderate structure,” Randal said.
As a sideline to their operation, Randal and Tanya also breed Charolais and Charbray bulls which they sell privately in the paddock. This venture started because Randal found he had calves that were simply too good to cut. “This is not something we will go further into but it’s something that we find rewarding. The number of bulls we keep varies from year to year and we only keep those that we feel have the potential to offer more,” Randall said. “We have had some really good feedback about our bulls and have a lot of repeat buyers which gives us the incentive to pursue it.”
With a lot of ambition and optimism about their future, Randal believes he is on the right track with his breeding programme, and is confident about the opportunities Charbray cattle offer. “I am an advocate of crossbred cattle and think they offer a lot more than pure breeds. We wanted more consistency in our breeding programme and Charbrays are delivering on that. Before when we were using Charolais and Santas over our females we were producing these great first crosses but were stuck with where to go next. Charbrays have certainly offered us more flexibility and to us this is vital,” Randal said.
Randal has absolutely no hesitation in recommending Charbray cattle to fellow beef producers but understands that at the end of the day it all comes down to individual needs and preference. “These cattle have most definitely met our requirements and have slotted in well to our operation. The opportunity literally fell into our laps and fortunately has been a real success,” he said.
Randal and Tanya will this year offer 30 bulls for private sale and would be more than happy to assist you with any enquiry.
Heather Stewart Testimonial - 8 May 2008
By Queensland Country Life
The need for softer, squarer cattle and a chance purchase of two Charbray bulls has lead to a successful partnership between the Stewart family and Charbray cattle that has extended over 30 years.
Operating a three property aggregation north of Biloela, including the original block, Kilburnie, selected in 1883, sisters Heather Stewart and Helen Bell, in partnership with Heather’s son Gordon and his partner Lana Tucker and daughters Fiona Hayward and her husband Allan, and Helen Stewart are devoted to Charbray producers. But this was not always the case…
“Back in the 1890’s the first cattle on Kilburnie were Herefords, we have also crossbred using Shorthorns, Santa’s and Brahmans but since our first drop of calves using Charbray bulls over Brahman cows we have been delighted with how they do in our country” Mrs Stewart said.
That first purchase was at the Annual Charbray sale where, according to Mrs Stuart “We were really going just for a look but when we saw the bulls we knew it was just what we needed”.
Taking home the last two lots in the sale, the ¾ Charolais, ¼ Brahman bulls went straight out into the hilly country and thrived, siring large boned, solid framed calves.
“With the first bulls we were sceptical that they would even survive but now we have a full Charbray operation including over 1000 breeders. They have proven themselves in tough, hilly conditions and consistently produce 2 tooth bullocks over 300kg dressed” She said.
“The cows are good mothers with a quiet temperament and are easy to handle. They produce good carcass, weighty offspring. The best part is they put money back into our pockets”
David East Testimonial - 1 May 2008
By Katie Lloyd
Morella district cattleman David East can’t really pin point what it is that makes Charbray and Charolais cattle so suited to his operation. It could be their excellent temperament, it could be their ability at withstanding the seasonal conditions or perhaps it’s the fact that he can produce weighty calves that can be weaned and sold directly off their mothers. Regardless, there are certainly many issues up for deliberation.
“At the end of the day it all comes down to a personal preference. For me there’s really nothing technical about it; weight equals dollars and these cattle deliver on that,” he said.
David has been involved with the Charbray and Charolais breeds for 30 years. With two properties, ‘Wyora’ at Winton and ‘Breedon Station’ at Morella, the East family runs 1500 breeders comprising both Charbray and Charolais genetics.
“We try to keep it simple and only buy generation bred Charbray bulls to use in our breeding programme. I believe this has been the key to getting uniformity in our calves and is something we have practiced for many years,” he said. “We also use Charolais sires too.”
With an objective to breed rather than fatten, David says it is usually the season that decides when cattle will be sold. “If the season is light we tend to turn cattle directly off their mothers and fortunately the breed allows for this. The calves are always well grown, weighty weaners. However, if the season is with us we aim to background them up to a weight of 300 to 400kg before selling them onto feedlots,” he said.
David is a strong advocate of the breed. He says they are cattle with a great temperament, are easy to handle and believes there is nothing more impressive than seeing a uniform mob of white cattle.
“Charbrays and Charolais are a niche breed; you either love them or you hate them. However there are obviously enough people out there that love them because they always pay a five to 10 cent premium; and there’s no debating it, they simply weigh in better,” he said.
Terry Nolan Testimonial - 29 April 2008
By Katie Lloyd
“Fast growing, high yielding cattle that can finish in a minimum amount of time”, is how respected beef producer and processor, Terry Nolan of Nolan Meats sums up Charbray genetics.
With an objective of delivering aesthetically pleasing meat that has superior eating quality to their customers, the Nolan family are committed to sourcing top quality cattle for their Gympie based operation. “We use a wide range of cattle however find that because of the Queensland environment, we need an infusion of both Bos Indicus and European genetics. These sorts of cattle go on to produce a very high standard product in terms of meat eating quality and from a yield point of view, deliver excellent results,” he said.
Feedlotting has become a significant part of the family’s operation with up to 15,000 head of cattle on feed. Cattle are sourced throughout Queensland and northern New South Wales with an emphasis being placed on these hybrid type cattle. “We ask our buyers to look out for Bos Indicus and Euro cross cattle and certainly have a preference for Charbray types. These are the cattle that receive the premium,” Terry said.
The family’s involvement with the breed stems back to the 1960s. It was actually Terry’s father Pat who was one of the first importers of Charolais cattle into Australia back in 1969. The family has had a close association with the breed ever since. “There’s no doubt that the Charbray and Euro type cattle are most suitable for our domestic market. They are excellent feedlot performers and are superior eating quality when finished and that’s what we are aiming to achieve,” Terry said.
The family also runs a small breeding operation which has a base herd of Charbray dams that are crossed with Blonde d’Aquitaine bulls. “This is a fairly small component of our business but we are very pleased with the type of cattle we are turning off,” Terry added.
Terry believes Charbray cattle consistently fit into the family’s operation, not just from a feeding perspective, but also across the hook. “These cattle grow quickly, they handle the climate, they yield well, produce meat that is appealing to the consumer in both appearance and taste, they fit very well into our MSA program; they are an ideal all round performer for us,” he said.