MATERNAL traits are the focus for Northern Rivers breeders Naasson and Kylie Jagoe and the Jagoe family, as they build female numbers in preparation for high demand of good quality females when the current seasonal conditions affecting much of NSW and Queensland improve.
Despite the widespread dry conditions across their state, the Jagoes have been fortunate to receive scattered storm showers, and haven't had to reduce breeder stock.
The Jagoe Agricultural operation includes a number of properties, with Naasson and Kylie operating Iona Downs, at Southgate via Grafton, which has both Alumy Creek and Bunyip Creek frontage.
The property runs about 320 Angus animals, including breeders, and steers and heifers that are grown out for various markets.
The Jagoes have purchased four bulls from Tenterfield-based stud Alumy Creek over the past two years, and Mrs Jagoe has known the Alumy Creek team for many years, having been a close neighbour when the stud began.
They study estimated breeding values (EBVs) very closely prior to sales, and over the past few years have focused on calving ease, maternal performance and structural soundness - traits to allow them to produce top quality females.
"Foreseeing a national shortage, our goal has been breeding top quality heifers so we can provide future breeders for sale, while also focusing on the 200- and 400-day weight EBVs, for our main business of growing out steers," Mr Jagoe said.
"We've been maintaining a good breeder base, with a high percentage of calving for daughters on the ground.
"Locally, statewide or interstate, people are going to require weaner heifers, maiden PTIC females, and cow and calf units over the next couple of years."
The steers are backgrounded for feedlots, on a high quality hay and silage diet, with all feed produced on farm.
"We run a mixed gazing and cropping operation producing silage rounds, either sorghum or winter oats," Mr Jagoe said.
"Across the three coastal operations we have couch, kikuyu and Rhodes grass, through to softer native grasses, and we've introduced pangola and clovers.
"Each year we look to rotationally improve our pastures, and having those improved pastures is the key to our high stocking rates and the maintenance of the grass needed for high growth performance."
Steers are grown out to between 300 to 330kg, and their feed habits are well established by the time they go to a feedlot.
Foreseeing a national shortage, our goal has been breeding top quality heifers so we can provide future breeders for sale, while also focusing on the 200- and 400-day weight EBVs, for our main business of growing out steers.
All calves are yard weaned for 14 days and manually fed twice a day with high protein oaten hay produced on farm.
"That 14-day cycle calms the steers right down and it sets them up for a good kilogram-based growth rate, while heifers become quieter for future breeders" Mr Jagoe said.
"They go into smaller paddocks after the 14 days and they're slowly rotated out into increasing acreage paddocks which makes them all easy to handle.
"The steers, while on grass pasture, are backgrounded on a starter ration in an essence, so from the moment they're in the feedlot, they're putting on weight. There's no setback at the yards."
The Jagoes have an irrigation licence, but haven't had to use the river water, instead deciding to direct drill crops depending on soil moisture and weather forecasts.
"We'll sell close to 1000 rounds of silage, either high performance sorghum or oats, this year.
"We also produce silage and hay for regular buyers, offloading the surplus that we don't use."
Steers and heifers are sold privately to regular clients, along with commercial bulls produced by the Jagoes.
Breeding Angus cattle has made it easier for the family to sell cattle to a variety of markets, depending on the season.