Duncombes sold on Charbrays versatility

Charbray market versatility appeals to Duncombes

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Reliable progeny: The Duncombe's have been using Kandanga Valley genetics in their breeding program since they started with the Charbray breed 15 years ago.

Reliable progeny: The Duncombe's have been using Kandanga Valley genetics in their breeding program since they started with the Charbray breed 15 years ago.

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The market versatility of the Charbray is what initially drew commercial producers Bernie and Christelle Duncombe to the breed 15 years ago.

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The market versatility of the Charbray is what initially drew commercial producers Bernie and Christelle Duncombe to the breed 15 years ago.

Home for the Duncombe's and their three young children, Zara, Morgan and Henry, is Arakoon (situated between Nanango and Manumbar) which lies on 1600 hectares of heavier creek soil flats, undulating cleared ridges and Ironbark forest soils.

The family also own nearby Garoon (1400ha) which is where the majority of their 450 Charbray cross breeding herd are run. Mr Duncombe's parents owned both properties which he inherited, and over the years he has bought adjoining country to expand their holdings.

"We yard wean from there back to Arakoon and grow them out to feeder weight steers (400kg or more). Most of the feeder steers and some of our cull heifers are sold to the Smithfield Feedlot in Proston," Mr Duncombe said.

"We also fatten a portion of the cull heifers on pastures, if the season permits, for the MSA Grass Fed Market."

Mr Duncombe said in contrast to the bone dry conditions of 2019, to date 2020 has been "unreal" as they've received 415mm of rain since January 1.

"Last year we were grain-assisting the cattle and using a lot of Anipro lick to get them up to target weight, but due to the rain we've had this year we have a huge body of feed ready for when we start weaning."

"The season and cattle prices have both improved markedly for us."

The Duncombe's: Bernie and Christelle Duncombe on Arakoon with their children Henry, Zara and Morgan.

The Duncombe's: Bernie and Christelle Duncombe on Arakoon with their children Henry, Zara and Morgan.

Mr Duncombe said they started with Charbrays when they moved to Arakoon.

"I'd noticed when attending sales that the Charbray cattle penned usually received a premium.

"They're a very versatile breed, you can sell them as a weaner or fatten them right through on grass or grain. They're also well suited to our climatic conditions here."

"Our goal is to produce a flat-backed, sleek coated animal, which is what we're managing to achieve consistently with the Charbray progeny."

Mr Duncombe said to ensure high quality Charbray bloodlines are running through the herd they've been purchasing bulls from John and Roz Mercer, Kandanga Valley Stud, Gympie, since they started with the breed.

"The Mercer's bulls have consistently provided us with easy doing, growthy progeny. John and Roz are also a pleasure to do business with, they're always friendly and they're very knowledgeable about the breed."

He said when making their sire purchases they look at each bull on their own merits as opposed to chasing specific bloodlines.

"As we have three young kids, the temperament of a bull is important. Aside from that, good carcass properties are what we're chasing.

To benchmark their article against those of other producers the Duncombe's often enter their cattle into shows and feedlot trials.

"At the 2018 Moreton Classic Show and Sale we won the Champion Grassfed Beast award for a Charbray steer that had been running on oats. The judge noted that he'd been well finished, had good fat cover and was very quiet.

"We also placed second at the Royal Queensland Show last year with a handy pen of Charbrays in the JBS Australia Pen of Six Pasture Fed Steers competition.

"This type of recognition is very helpful, as it lets us know we're on the right track with our breeding program."

Looking ahead, Mr Duncombe said he'll be focussing on ensuring they're consistently purchasing quiet bulls as he's the only one mustering.

"We're also looking more into increasing our poll numbers across the herd, as it saves on dehorning and reduces stress on the cattle.

"We have quite a few polled calves at present, so we'll just expand further down that path."

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