A delicate balancing act is required for the Whiteman family’s mixed-breed commercial operation, in which they’re currently using Santa Gertrudis bulls over their Braford breeders to even out the Bos Taurus/Bos Indicus-ratio in the progeny.
Paul and Lauren Whiteman along with Paul’s parents Russell and Helen run the family-owned operation across two properties, Wybalena, near Rolleston (3318ha) and Bloomfield (6192ha) in the Boyne Valley.
The 680-head breeding herd is run at Bloomfield, with the progeny bought over to Wybalena for fattening.
“We grow out progeny for the EU market, and sell to JBS Dinmore, and Teys Rockhampton or Biloela, depending on where the prices are best,” Paul said.
“We put the progeny on oats, and finish them around August/September. We’re making good money with that job,” he said.
He said they’re using Santa Gertrudis bulls over their mainly Braford breeders, to keep the flatback on.
“We’ve used a lot of Angus, and some Charolais, and we now mainly have red cows with white faces.
“A few years ago when the Bos Taurus level was getting too high, we brought in Red Brahman cows to level off the progeny, now we doing the same thing with Santas.”
He said the Santa bulls they purchase from Tim and Trina Patterson, Broad Leaf Stud, Rolleston, have been doing very well, especially on the rougher country at Bloomfield.
“We find that bulls perform best within around 200km of where they’re bred, and the Pattersons are only about 40km away from Wybalena.
“Tim also finishes his cattle on oats, so they adapt well when they come here.”
When looking for bulls, Paul said scrotal size and leg structure are traits he places a lot of value in.
“We’ve also been buying more poll bulls in the last couple of years, but its not a big push for us, it’s mainly because they’re easier to handle when we brand.”
He said while climatic conditions at Wybalena have been good, with solid showers arriving in July, at Bloomfield they’re staring down the barrel of having to put the breeders on full supplement feeding.
“Being in the Boyne Valley, we’ve largely missed out on the scattered showers that have passed over, so we’ve already had the cattle at Bloomfield on wet lick for about a month and half, and we’re looking at carting in cottonseed but the prices are pretty high at the moment.”
The family also grows grain for feed and commercial sale at Wybalena.
“Last year we grew sorghum, and had a great crop, and we also grew about 90 acres of pioneer grazing-style silage from which we got eight tons to the acre, which we’ve kept aside to help the cattle through the drought.”