The Santa Gertrudis has always been the choice for Western Downs-based producers Darryl and Carmel Waugh at their breeding and fattening operation, Doogalook, situated between Meandarra and Inglestone.
It was six years ago that the Waugh’s bought the 4355ha property, which features mostly flat to slightly undulating Brigalow and Belah-type country.
Darryl said prior to purchase close to 2000ha of the property had been used primarily for dryland farming.
“While we’ve changed tact and turned it into a grazing operation, we kept 600ha of the farm land to grow oats and summer forage,” he said.
Darryl said he’s used Santa bulls his whole life, and though they’ve played around with some crosses of Chianina, Gelbveih and Charolais, their focus is now on breeding purebred commercial Santas.
“I really like the Santas for their growth, muscle, fattening ability, and adaptability to any environment which allow us to target all levels of market weight ranges.
“By using the breed we have the capability to sell to the local trade market or at heavy export weights, and our cull Santa cows also have tremendous value due to their top end carcase weights.”
Within their operation the Waugh’s aim to join more than 450 breeders annually, from the end of October to the end of March, the progeny are then grown out for two to two and half years and sold direct to the processors at EU slaughter weights.
“We sell cull heifers at over 280kg dressed, steers at 350-380kg dressed, and we also sell cull cows and bulls to the processors.”
Darryl said they’ve been getting good prices for their cattle recently, with the EU premium paying them close to 40c/kg above Jap Ox rates.
“We’ve been lucky this year, we avoided a couple of downturns in the grid prices due to the dry and large numbers coming forward.”
He said their main production goal is to keep plenty of natural growth and muscle on their cattle without compromising on fertility.
“As we’re pasture/crop fatteners, when buying bulls it’s very important that they’re going to be capable of keeping enough fat cover on the progeny produced.
“Come stud sale season, we particularly look at growthy bulls with good eye muscle area relative to live weight with reasonable fat cover.
“Temperament is the most important trait we look for though, while higher end scrotal measurements and morphology also get our attention.”
For the Waugh’s to attain bulls of this type, they’ve been buying from the Bullamakinka Invitation Sale, now the Narromine Invitational Sale, since it began.
“We find having first-rate Santa stud’s offering quality bulls right on our doorstep has given us the opportunity to select different bloodlines which have in turn helped to improve our herd.
“The bulls aren’t over prepared and there are a couple of bloodlines with exceptional libidos at the sale which could easily single sire more than 70 cows.
“The genuine interest the vendors have in finding out how and what the bulls are doing for us is also very pleasing.”
At the 2017 sale the Waugh’s purchased Narromine T356 from vendors Boyd and Susan Rohde, Narromine, Goondiwindi for $15,000.
“We’re excited about his potential, and being a son of Bullamakinka H10, we know he has the qualities we look for in a bull.”
Carmel said their other big interest is spending time with their three children and four grandchildren.
“Our son Jason and his partner Arlie live on Doogalook, and happily help us out when required.
“Our two girls Natalie and Letitia are married and live in CQ with our grandchildren, Isabelle, Bronte, Alexander and Phoebe, who we love to visit when we can.”