The Simmental Advantage: Maternal traits lift herd quality

The Simmental Advantage: Maternal traits lift herd quality

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North Coast NSW beef producers Bruce and Sandra Jorgensen's operation has been running Simmental cattle for more than 30 years.

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WEANER SUCCESS: Mummulgum beef producer Bruce Jorgensen is gradually moving his 280 head of breeders to a purebred Simmental herd to produce a quality calf suitable for a range of markets, from grass-fed to backgrounding for feedlots.

WEANER SUCCESS: Mummulgum beef producer Bruce Jorgensen is gradually moving his 280 head of breeders to a purebred Simmental herd to produce a quality calf suitable for a range of markets, from grass-fed to backgrounding for feedlots.

NORTH Coast NSW beef producers Bruce and Sandra Jorgensen's operation has been running Simmental cattle for more than 30 years.

But it is not tradition that has kept their herd infused with Simmental all these years - it's results.

The Jorgensens run their 280 breeding herd on 450 hectares at Mummulgum and Mallanganee, west of Casino.

The herd is self-replacing with 75 per cent of the breeders now purebred Simmental, and the Jorgensens are building that up to 100pc.

The European Union-accredited properties produce weaner steers for the annual Casino feature sale in March, and apart from the 50pc to 60pc replacement females that remain in the operation, the remainder of the females are sold mainly as breeders.

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"We have pretty good demand for the weaner heifers when we have them ready to go, from people wanting to buy them for replacements," Mr Jorgensen said.

"And repeat buyers get the steers out of the yards every year - backgrounders or grass finishers; it just depends on the season.

"The steers are usually around the 320 kilograms to 330kg liveweight mark straight off the cow, no grain supplement and 10 to 11 months old when they are turned off."

Those replacement heifers went in with the bull for six weeks from June 1, while the remainder of the herd started joining from July 1.

"The cows have a four month joining, because the season on the north coast is a dry spring with mainly summer rainfall," he said.

"But the majority of the calves are born in the first six to nine week, and we usually get between 92pc to 93pc calving."

Bulls come from Woonallee stud in Furner, SA, the Blue Dog stud from Wandoan, Qld, and more recently from Lucrana at Texas, Qld.

TOP FEMALES: Mr Jorgensen is impressed with the temperament and mothering ability of the Simmental.

TOP FEMALES: Mr Jorgensen is impressed with the temperament and mothering ability of the Simmental.

"We are looking for softness, temperament, length and weight for age," Mr Jorgensen said.

"If there is estimated breeding values available we go for high milk and high growth figures, and moderate birthweight.

"The quality of the bulls has moved ahead in leaps and bounds in the past 10 years, and gone away from those big rangy, bullocky bulls to a more moderate style.

"The Simmental females have a better temperament and their mothering ability is fantastic.

"And there is a ready market for the three-quarter and purebred heifers.

"With a crossbred female it is hard to know what to join it with for buyers, where purebreds they can use anything."

A consistent herd health program, keeping good ground cover, and a well marketed sale, on top of the proven genetics, mean the Jorgensens achieve solid sale results.

And while Mr Jorgensen doesn't think the sky high prices of recent years will be sustained, he does think there is plenty of upside in the cattle industry.

"I don't think that we will see ridiculous prices being forecast by some people, but we can get a bit more for them given the cattle shortage - drought and flood has meant a lot have gone out of the market," he said.

"But people who buy weaners have got to keep coming back every year so they need to make money as well."

The story The Simmental Advantage: Maternal traits lift herd quality first appeared on The Land.

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