Spring Angus: Grass care keeping Rooken Glen healthy

Spring Angus: Grass care holds Qld's Rooken Glen in good stead


Beef
COOLER: Sylvia, Jessie, Gina and Mick Roberts, Rooken Glen, Springsure, Qld, adhere to mustering on horses to keep cattle calm and improve meat quality.

COOLER: Sylvia, Jessie, Gina and Mick Roberts, Rooken Glen, Springsure, Qld, adhere to mustering on horses to keep cattle calm and improve meat quality.

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Years of looking after its buffel grass is paying off for the Roberts family.

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MICK and Sylvia Roberts were looking after their pastures long before it was trendy to do so.

With plenty of recent research highlighting the benefits of maintaining grass cover and warnings against overgrazing, the new wave of graziers have well-informed science to back-up their decisions.

For the Roberts family, it just made sense.

"It's not a good situation to be short of a feed every year, I don't think," Mr Roberts said. "We run pretty lightly at the best of times to have a bit in reserve.

"We've always worked on that; it keeps a bit of grass cover on the country."

Along with their three daughters, Jessie, Sandy, Gina and Gina's partner Michael, the family owns Rooken Glen, about 80 kilometres west of Springsure, Qld.

Mr Roberts has been conscious of the condition of his grasses, taking special care to ensure it will support the cattle on them.

He spells the paddocks now and again to prevent them being flogged out.

WORKING: Jessie Roberts with some of the faithful working dogs during a recent muster.

WORKING: Jessie Roberts with some of the faithful working dogs during a recent muster.

"It seems to definitely get a bit thicker if you give it a bit of a go," Mr Roberts said.

The 14,000-hectare property runs a 1200-head breeding herd largely containing a Santa Gertrudis, Angus and Brahman mix.

The property has been in the family for some 100 years so there's a deep historical knowledge of what works best.

Part of refining that right mix has been the introduction of Angus bulls.

Mr Roberts said they had leaned towards purchasing yearling bulls as he found they were more adaptable when brought to the property.

Bulls are given a couple of months to acclimate before being put to work.

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"We put them in with the heifers first for two years and then the pick of them go out with the breeders and we get another crop of young ones then," Mr Roberts said.

"The lighter bulls seem to mate better with the heifers too."

As a result, the breeding herd itself has also become increasingly Angus-infused.

"We keep a lot of the Angus-cross breeders here now too," he said.

"They just seem to produce those fleshier calves and they are a bit more fertile.

"The cross gives a bit extra weight and that fat cover.

"They seem to do well on good tucker."

The operation has found particular success using purebred Angus bulls from Erica and Stuart Halliday's Ben Nevis stud at Walcha, NSW.

We keep a lot of the Angus-cross breeders here now too. They just seem to produce those fleshier calves and they are a bit more fertile. - Mick Roberts, Rooken Glen, Springsure

Mr Roberts said having purchased from the stud for the past six years, he was impressed with not only the offspring being produced but also the professional team working at Ben Nevis.

The Rooken Glen cattle are sent direct to the Teys-owned meatworks at Lakes Creek where they meet the European Union (EU) standard.

While the National Livestock Identification Scheme (NLIS) tags provide a few headaches, Mr Roberts said the EU accreditation was worth it.

Lucky Falls

UNLIKE some parts of the state, Rooken Glen is travelling quite well through winter having received some late Autumn falls.

"We had a couple of good lots of rain in March and April which gave us a bit of fresh feed," Mr Roberts said.

"We got about eight inches in the middle of March."

Again, that care for paddock grasses came into its own with a healthy body of feed springing away.

Through work and persistence over many years, Rooken Glen now boasts a substantial body of Buffel grass which keeps giving back.

Mr Roberts said most of the property had been blade ploughed at some stage which helped to re-establish that feed.

"If you get dry years it doesn't come back for a while," he said.

"We got pretty good growth for the rain that late in the season."

PLENTY: Healthy stands of established buffel grass keep the Rooken Glen Angus cattle well fed and going through dry times.

PLENTY: Healthy stands of established buffel grass keep the Rooken Glen Angus cattle well fed and going through dry times.

It's a strategy he's hoping to replicate come spring this year with plans to deep rip another paddock where Mr Roberts observed the grass to be thinning in places.

The abundant buffel seed itself will be enough to come through but Mr Roberts plans to seed legume as well.

Of course, some spring storms to soften the ground wouldn't go astray.

"That's the plan; whether it comes off or not is another thing," Mr Roberts said.

Prior to the autumn showers, water was getting tight with the property's dams running low.

Rooken Glen runs off mostly dam water and two bores.

The care for the country is echoed in the family's care for its cattle as well.

Mustering is done with horses and dogs, not motorbikes or choppers, in order to lessen stress and avoid dark cutting meat at the processing end.

"They come to the yard a bit cooler," Mr Roberts said.

The practices in place at Rooken Glen may not be revolutionary, but they are working for the Roberts family.

Mr Roberts said much of it came back to taking a common sense approach and seeing what was going on in front of you.

"Too many people spend too much time in front of the computer rather than out in the field," he said.

The story Spring Angus: Grass care keeping Rooken Glen healthy first appeared on The Land.

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