WITH new biosecurity regulations in place, now more than ever animal welfare is at the fore front of the agriculture industry.
That’s why becoming recognised under the Global Animal Partnership welfare rating was just another way for Mungallala producer Tony Horvath to open his operation up to more markets.
Tony Horvath and Roslyn Ware operate two organic certified properties north of Mungallala, the 1416 hectare Fairview and 1011 hectares called Cochranes, currently running 530 head.
Their herd was originally of Belmont Red and Angus genetics but in 2010 they began incorporating Black Simmentals due to their fertility, maternal traits, constitution and superior carcase traits.
They finish their cattle on improved brigalow country and turn off two and a half year old bullocks to Arcadian Organics aiming to dress 320kg around March each year. Their cull heifers are also killed at the same age while cast for age cows are sold organically too.
Not only is their operation EU accredited, organic and MSA certified, but also recognised under the Global Animal Partnership welfare rating.
An audit is conducted on their property every 15 months ensuring they follow appropriate management techniques including no dehorning, spaying practices, transportation distances to slaughter and weaning.
“It’s given us another market,” he said.
“You have seen it happen in the live export, we have really got to be on the front foot as far as animal welfare goes.”
The couple aim to have their annual drop of 150 calves on the ground in August by narrowing their joining period from 12 weeks down to nine, something they have done for the last two years.
Their bulls are put in with the female herd on October 12 until December 14.
They have also started joining heifers as two-year-olds rather than yearlings to ensure further consistency in production.
The technique has proven successful and Mr Horvath said their conception rates hovered between the late 80s to early 90s in percentage.
He said they wanted their steers to get the most benefit out of three summers and worked their breeding times around their markets.
“Because we are only a very small operation we need to be able to market everything in the one hit so we are keeping our calving as tight as we can,” he said.
”In the past, when we have yearling mated, it would work for three years out of five and then you would get these dry years and it would sort of fall apart for a couple of years.
“We can join that bit earlier, we can wean earlier, and basically get better condition on our cows prior to winter so we can get them into body score three or four condition.
“Not relying so much on the season for your cows to get back in calf.”
As organic producers, all chemicals, including synchronisation materials, are forbidden meaning Mr Horvath has to watch his 70 head of selected heifers and cows in his AI program for a natural cycle.
Otherwise, he said, the organic status suited their country given it was fairly parasite free and they didn’t need to drench or spray for lice or buffalo fly.
“We cull any breeders that develop buffalo fly rubs,” he said.
“We try to work on never treating our breeders, so selecting for resistance.”