Droughties provide solution to X troubles

Moxham-Price holds Droughtmasters in high esteem

Local Business Feature
Problem solver: By joining Droughmaster bulls to their crossbred breeding herd the Moxham-Price family have overcome the issues they were having with ticks.

Problem solver: By joining Droughmaster bulls to their crossbred breeding herd the Moxham-Price family have overcome the issues they were having with ticks.

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While Wayne and Judy Moxham-Price are beginning to take the foot off the gas in relation to their cattle business, their fondness for crossbred Droughtmaster cattle remains vital.

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While Wayne and Judy Moxham-Price are beginning to take the foot off the gas in relation to their cattle business, their fondness for crossbred Droughtmaster cattle remains vital.

Wayne and Judy are now splitting time between their home at Yeppoon, while continuing to head out to their breeding block, Mrs Smiths, in the North Burnett region, and their fattening block, Pindari, at Lawgi in the Callide Valley.

Mr Moxham-Price said Mrs Smiths, which was originally part of the larger Oakey Creek Station, has been in the family since the 1930's. In 2003 they sold two thirds of the property and stayed on Mrs Smiths, they purchased Pindari the same year.

"We're in the midst of completing succession planning with our sons Blake and Luke as we look to phase out. Both the boys are employed outside of our cattle business. Luke has his own farm in the Callide Valley and also works on ours, while Blake and his wife Teneille live and work on Pindari. Together we coordinate around their rosters to muster, brand, preg-test and wean," he said.

Their path to utilising Droughtmaster genetics in their herd 15 years ago was long and winding.

"We started with an all white Brahman breeding herd from the 1960's to the late 1980's, and put Angus bulls over them for hybrid vigour and to lower the Brahman content, and we then joined Wagyu bulls to these first-cross heifers.

"This program hit a bit of a snag as we soon discovered how much ticks love the soft, heavy-coated cattle. To reduce the hair and softness we introduced Belmont Reds, then went back to softer Brangus, but we got the tick problems again.

"To solve this ongoing problem we brought in Droughtmaster and Senepol bulls to put over the crossbred breeding herd, and this breeding program has been working well for us since. Our black breeding herd is slowly changing to red."

Mr Moxham-Price said he likes the temperament, smooth coat and fat cover of the Droughtmaster.

"The Droughties also have a degree of Bos Indicus content, but don't show high Bos Indicus characteristics. We won't buy higher content types for the simple reason that hump height is one of the main MSA measuring standards, and has been discovered to have a negative impact on eating quality, the higher the hump is."

The family usually put the bulls with the replacement heifers from the second week in October, with the rest of the breeders joining them in November. The bulls are then taken out of the paddock at the end of February, though if it's dry they're kept in for a week to 10 days longer.

"We wean and preg-test through the end of April and the first week of May. Empty cows go to the meatworks or if necessary, fattened on leucaena, then sent to the works. Our fertility rate varies with the season but we aim for the mid 80 per cent area. Sometimes it is a little higher and sometimes it is considerably lower. We put supplement out with the pregnant cows after weaning to help them maintain body condition through the winter. If body weight can be maintained it's beneficial with their cycling after they've calved.

They mainly sell into the Teys Grasslands program, as the plant is nearby so they can run in a few loads at a time when they're ready.

"Though we usually breed and fatten, due to the dry last year we had to sell cull heifers, a sizeable number of our replacement heifers as well as steers directly to the Teys Condamine Feedlot. Luckily with Droughtmasters being flatbacks we received a premium for the lower hump."

"For the meatworks we try and get steers to 310 to 314kg, cull heifers to 245 to 255kg, and cows a bit heavier. To obtain the Grasslands premium the carcase must meet MSA specifications. Our returns have been good, we can't complain at all."

The family have been buying bulls from Jason and Geraldine Barnard, Caldy Droughtmasters, for five years to bolster their herd.

"As Judy and I are both nearly 70 we only buy naturally quiet (not man-made quiet) polled bulls now. There is nothing better than poking along behind a mob of weaners who're all walking along nicely.

"Jason is very passionate about the temperament of his cattle. When we're looking to buy he's very honest about telling us which bulls will and won't walk away from us in the yard. He understands our requirements. The last two lots of weaners by Caldy bulls are the quietest we've ever had."

They look for smooth, long bulls with a tidy sheath, and a nice, kind head.

"We then weigh up their physical appearance against their IMF, rib eye area, morphology and testicular size when making our selections. The bulls we buy have to strike that balance."

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