It was 25 years ago that the Armstrong family, Comet Downs Cattle Company, introduced Charolais bulls into their commercial breeding program, a decision which continues to pay dividends for the family to this day.
Dean and Paula Armstrong run their operation, with assistance from their daughter Laura, from Comet Downs (20,000 hectares) a leased property, and five other properties which they own in the Central Highland region, totalling 56,656ha, south of Comet.
Comet Downs and their other properties are used solely for cattle production, with the overall herd of close to 12,000 head, including a 2500 head mixed breeding herd, being run on cleared land featuring improved pastures of buffel grass and legumes. 2023ha of cultivated land is used to grow forage sorghum, oats and barley, for cattle fattening purposes.
Mr Armstrong said they initially began purchasing Charolais bulls to increase the muscling, dressing percentage and fertility in the cross progeny produced by their then predominantly Santa Gertrudis base breeding herd.
"These days we have more a mixed breeding herd consisting of Angus, Santa Gertrudis, Simmental, Fleckvieh and Charolais cows with which we're continuing to join with our Charolais bulls to bolster the carcase traits and constitution of the crossbred article produced," he said.
In their program, the bulls are joined with the females in October and come out on March 1.
"This season suits us well as the calves usually drop at the start of July, which then allows us to wean at eight months in April and May."
In addition to their breeding program, the Armstrong's also buy in steers to sell on.
"We sell between 3000 to 4000 bullocks at Jap Ox weight direct to the JBS Meatworks in Rockhampton each year. We also fatten and sell cull females to the same destination."
Since they began utilising the Charolais breed, the Armstrongs have mainly purchased bulls from the Cass family, Ayr Charolais.
"The dedication and effort that the Cass's put into their breeding program is second-to-none. Thee bulls they produce and make available for sale are very consistent, structurally sound and have great carcase traits.
"We're running close to 30 of their bulls at present. We purchase a few each year from their annual on-property sale in Moura and from out of their paddock."
Mr Armstrong said they bought six bulls last year, two of which we've put into single sire mating programs. We're expecting calves from those bulls in a month which we're looking forward to seeing.
"We'll be going down to the Cass's soon to have a look at the bulls they'll have available at their 2020 sale.