Ultrablacks are a top fit on Cashel Vale

Ultrablack X working wonders on Cashel Vale

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Great growth: Weaners by Nindooinbah Ultrablack bulls reached 350kg on Cashel Vale in good seasonal conditions in 2017.

Great growth: Weaners by Nindooinbah Ultrablack bulls reached 350kg on Cashel Vale in good seasonal conditions in 2017.

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While wool production is the bread and butter of Stuart Mitchell's operations on Cashel Vale, 20km south of Bollon along the Wallam Creek, he's also having success with his commercial crossbred Ultrablack herd.

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While wool production is the bread and butter of Stuart Mitchell's operations on Cashel Vale, 20km south of Bollon along the Wallam Creek, he's also having success with his commercial crossbred Ultrablack herd.

The country on Cashel Vale (16,000ha) consists of 40 per cent red box and mulga and 40pc greyer gidgee country, with the balance made up of heavier grey coolibah and Belah country. There are some small areas of flood out and brigalow and the entire property is well established to buffel grass.

Mr Mitchell is running both operations himself these days after his beloved wife Ba, passed away recently. Though he's receiving welcome assistance from their children Rhett and Doone.

"Doone is a Marcus Oldham graduate so luckily for me she has remotely taken control of the financial part of our business," Mr Mitchell said.

"It's still quite dry here, and over the last couple of years we have cut our sheep numbers back to about 4500 from 7000," he said.

"We used to run mainly ewes but since we were able to cease mulesing about 12 years ago our wool is starting to attract some demand and premiums so we have started to run more bale filling wethers."

Mr Mitchell said while they had always been, and still are primarily wool producers, it was Ba who pushed, close to eight years ago, for more cattle to be run on the property which they purchased in March, 1988.

"We had run a small Droughtmaster herd but managed to secure some Angus/Santa-cross heifers about six years ago to increase our numbers.

Top progeny: A first calf heifer with her twin Ultrablack calves on Cashel Vale in 2019.

Top progeny: A first calf heifer with her twin Ultrablack calves on Cashel Vale in 2019.

"Since that time we've only used Nindooinbah Ultrablack bulls, produced by Beaudesert-based stud masters Euan Murdoch and Nick Cameron, over the females. We're currently running 350 Ultrablack-cross breeders which are turning off weaners at the start of winter."

"We aim to sell the weaners on at 280kg though that figure varies between 220kg to 350kg in poor and really good years respectively."

"We join the bulls with the females from November through to late January. This window coincides with a busy sheep time for us so we have to be a little bit flexible with the cattle side of the business in this regard."

He said the Ultrablacks are well suited to the western country on Cashel Vale.

"They have a bit of toughness in them, though their most appealing quality is their temperament, they're very easy to handle. They're also highly fertile with multiple births not being an uncommon occurrence in the herd.

An Angus x Santa cow with Ultrablack calf at foot on Cashel Vale.

An Angus x Santa cow with Ultrablack calf at foot on Cashel Vale.

"The cattle are polled. They're black and the continuous genetic improvement and the predictability of the Nindooinbah genetics means we can target good weaner weights, which is our our principal market.

"I was lucky to visit Nindooinbah with the Platinum Primary Producers (PPP) group. I was impressed with the cattle, and the way Euan and Nick were tackling the development of the Ultrablack breed."

He said the Nindooinbah bulls have been consistently good performers in a variety of seasons.

"They produced 350kg weaners for us in a good season in 2017. They also did well while we fed them with cotton seed and palm kernel meal, and pushed scrub for them for the best part of two years up to the middle of March this year.

"Ideally, the Nindooinbah bulls I buy produce low birth weight progeny with reasonable weaning weights."

Mr Mitchell said moving forward with the cattle side of the business, he's looking to be as flexible as possible.

"I'll slowly increase our numbers, and possibly start growing cattle out. I'm a bit new to it all so I think being flexible is important. It will be easier to make some decisions on the future direction of the herd if the seasons stabilise a bit."

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