IT IS the proven performance and enduring appeal of the Angus breed that has the Probert family committed to doubling their commercial herd on “Spring Hill” near Mittagong in the Southern Highlands.
Owner Brad Probert runs the property alongside the family’s Angus stud with his son, David, as co-manager with Pete Robinson.
David Probert said they ran about 200 breeders, but the Angus cattle were such proven performers expansion was a certainty.
“We had some good cattle on hand when we started our stud and we culled about two-thirds of them for our commercial herd,” he said. “To that original herd we’ve added about 140 (breeders).
“We can probably run about 600 to 700 head,” he said. “We manage about 300 now, so we’re looking to double that in five to seven years.”
Depending on how their heifers perform on the 1000-hectare property in the next year or so, they plan to start trialling larger breeder numbers to test the property’s capacity.
The “Spring Hill” team have employed a secret weapon to increase efficiency – a recent change in pasture.
Mr Probert said they had for the first time sown a rye grass mix on four paddocks, while the fifth was seeded with a clover and rye mix.
The pasture’s success has ensured it will be part of “Spring Hill’s” ongoing management.
“We’ll definitely be continuing it next year,” Mr Probert said. “We’ve had great weather, but the cattle are going gangbusters. The pasture still needs some work until we can run a lot more breeders, but we’re very happy with how things have gone so far.”
About 120 head of weaners are finishing on the pasture and Mr Probert hoped for a good price, saying Angus cattle were generally a steady performer in a fluctuating market.
“Spring Hill” has made great use of Kennys Creek bloodlines in the past, most recently having bought a selection of 90 heifers by Kennys Creek bulls at a Goulburn weaner sale.
“The Kennys Creek bulls just produce really good quality cows and heifers,” Mr Probert said.
“Their structure and their numbers are great. The ones we just bought are fattening up nicely.”
This proven performance is among the factors that make Angus cattle a steady bet in a fluctuating market, Mr Probert said.
And despite some pessimistic forecasts for the near future, he was hopeful demand would remain high.
“Hopefully the market stays as it is, we’ve been getting good prices,” he said.
“I went to a conference about three months ago where the speakers said the market was about to go down.”
He said, while it was important to stay abreast of market research, nothing beat the evidence gathered by personal experience.
“Look, at the moment beef seems to be in great demand,” he said. “I see the market actually going up – if more people want to buy (beef), prices will stay strong.”
Regardless, Angus cattle were proven performers and could hold their value even in tougher economic times.
“Our aim is to produce a consistent quality Angus animal and the breed is built for that consistency,” he said.
“The breed’s long history and its reputation for quality means it will always have a market.”
“Spring Hill” still has about 30 to 40 Charolais-cross calves, but Mr Probert said they were looking to get rid of them soon.
“We’ve sold the Charolais bull, we’ll just stick with Angus now,” he said.
The breed’s durability also frees producers up to focus on improving management rather than having to focus on animal health and stability, he said.
“Angus have no problems with their feet, they’re easy-drenching animals and they’re quite low-maintenance,” Mr Probert said.
“And when we go to market we generally get good prices. They’re an in-demand animal.”
That is not to say managing “Spring Hill” is without its challenges. This year, the property has been inundated with kangaroos. The Proberts use “flexi-fit” fencing from Gallaghers which enables them to string up a fence quickly and move it as required.
“The fences have floating posts between pickets and they’re very easy to electrify,” Mr Probert said. “It’s helped us keep the roos off. Driving through the property recently I saw 80 to 90 roos.
“Normally we get about 10 to 20 on the property at night, but this year has just been crazy.”