MIKE Benn has been "putting good Angus cattle together" for about 18 years.
That's 18 years of selecting for growth and temperament which is paying off, with strong demand for his weaners from return customers.
Mr Benn runs 240 Angus females - down from a pre-dry 300 - at his 404-hectare European Union accredited property Berrington, via Deepwater.
The cows, which started calving in June and will continue through until September, produce weaner steers and heifers for the Stanthorpe feature sale in the first week of April.
In 2017, the steers average 331 kilograms straight off mum. In 2018, it was 334kg, and Mr Benn said they averaged about 330c/kg.
This year, having received well below the average annual rainfall of 711mm, the steer portion was sold out of the paddock early at 269kg.
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"I sold 110 steers to Wickham Farms for 310c/kg - we sold them out of the paddock to reduce numbers and sold them six weeks early to get them off the cows - and I thought the price was pretty good at the time," Mr Benn said.
"Angus cattle have got a great following by the feedlots. They are pretty easy to sell and a lot of buyers love Angus cattle. They are easy to grow out to feeder weights.
"But weaners have been selling well enough. It pays off when you are selling them straight off the cow."
The lack of rain means the breeding herd at Berrington has been fed for the past four months. This includes cottonseed at $600 a tonne delivered, which Mr Benn said is a good source of protein that is easy to handle. Forage sorghum has also been bought in, with Mr Benn reporting the price had increased from $450/tonne to $600/t in the past six weeks.
The cows are naturally mated to Glenavon and Ascot Angus bulls, selected primarily on their growth estimated breeding values.
"For growth you want all the top figures in the bulls so you get growth throughout.
"Milk is also a big thing so cows have plenty of milk.
Angus cattle have got a great following by the feedlots. They are pretty easy to sell and a lot of buyers love Angus cattle.
"You go through the Breedplan and you want to buy in the top percentage - I like to buy bulls that are in the top 10 per cent.
"Plus temperament has got to be 100pc - if it is not, they won't stay. That is what we look for when we go to buy, that way your breeders are kept to a good temperament."
Mr Benn keeps a portion of heifers as replacement and sells the surplus, reporting that his female weaners are in even higher demand this his steers.
"Twelve months ago our Angus heifers made 60c/kg more than our steers at 404c/kg - the buyer bought them for a breeding program, to join Wagyus to them, and has bought them for two years running. The bulk went to a local, who had them previously and came to buy them specifically."
Mr Benn puts this demand down to buying the best bulls to maintain genetics, saying he pays up to $15,000 for most sires.
Mr Benn also has a property at Dalveen that he uses to finish trade cattle, usually direct to processors with a grass-fed accreditation.
This year they required supplementary feeding because of the season, but still achieved good results, making 582c/kg for 298kg carcase weight lots, EU and Meat Standards Australia accredited, which equated to $1730 for the milk-tooth steers.
"Management-wise, putting our superphosphate regularly to improve both sown and natural pastures, as well as a regular drenching and supplementation program, gives the cattle the best chance of peak performance," Mr Benn said.
Looking forward to when the season breaks, Mr Benn is positive about the future of the industry.
"We are very lucky we have a low Australian dollar," he said.
"I think the cattle market is tremendous for the way the situation is.
"As different ones will say, at least you can sell your cattle and get some money for them - a lot of droughts you can't sell your cattle."
The story Spring Angus: EU Angus best bet for Berrington producer first appeared on The Land.