SPECIALIST Northern Rivers NSW weaner producers Bruce and Sandra Jorgensen are well into the process of increasing the Simmental content of their breeding herd as way of producing better performing weaner cattle.
Mr Jorgensen, who runs the breeding operation on country at both Mummulgum and Mallanganee in the Clarence River catchment, said his business was focused on producing the best weaners possible. That meant having the best cows possible, he said.
“We have always run a crossbred herd and used a lot of Simmental bulls,” Mr Jorgensen said.
“The reason for that is in addition to ultimate quality of the finished carcase, Simmentals are huge milk producers.
“Along with the genetics, a major component of what makes a calf grow into an ideal weaner is having access to plenty of milk.
“That is exactly what Simmentals females deliver.”
Mr Jorgensen said he was committed to constantly improving his cow herd.
“My whole focus is on breeding females,” he said. “If the females are right, then everything else should follow including the quality of the steer calves.
“We’ll go to a 100 percent Simmental herd. If that works like we think it will, we’ll stick to it. If we need to adjust it we’ll deal with that also.”
Bulls have been used from Blue Dog at Wandoan, and Waterfront and Woonallee in South Australia.
In an addition to a visual appraisal, bull selections are made using EBVs for the top 10 per cent in milk production, growth and low birth weight. Mr Jorgensen said poll animals were a bonus but performance was the benchmark.
Mr Jorgensen credited his late father-in-law Sam Barber for giving him his appreciation of Simmental cattle. The first bulls came from the late Harry M Miller’s Dunmore during the late 1980s.
The herd is run on improved pastures including kikuyu, Rhodes grass, paspalum, siratro and clovers and the very productive subtropical legume Shaws Creeping Vigna.
“It took a while to establish but once up and going it has been very worthwhile,” he said.
Originally sourced from equatorial East Africa in the 1950s, the highly nutritious vigna has a unique persistence under heavy grazing.
The Shaws cultivar was selected decades after it was trailed at the former CSIRO Beerwah Research Station.
The maiden heifers are joined from six weeks starting on July 1. The cow herd is joined for four months from June 1.
The weaners are sold at George and Fuhrmann’s annual weaner sales in Casino in March, weighing about 320-340kg.