WHILE most people sink all their time and hard earned money into one enterprise, Wee Waa farmer Steve Hatton has set himself apart from the rest by spending more than 10 years dividing his time between his own property and one he manages.
Mr Hatton said his home property “Coonarah”, is used to buy, trade and finish about 200 head of cattle a year for Woolworths, while “Forest Lodge”, about 30 kilometres away, is used to breed Angus cattle.
“I own one property, manage the other and run cattle on both,” Mr Hatton said.
“I was helping out my mate on Forest Lodge with his Angus cattle and have been managing it since he passed away, so here I am 10 years later.
“I run 350 breeders and 607 hectares of cropping at Forest Lodge and a further 242ha of cropping at ‘Coonarah’.”
He chose to continue with the Angus breed at “Forest Lodge”, saying he was at an advantage with the breed because they were well renowned.
“Butchers prefer the Angus breed and I prefer the taste,” he said.
Mr Hatton said by joining the cows from September 1 to November 5, he had a June-July calving.
“I like calving then because the hot weather doesn’t suit the calving period,” he said.
“The calving percentage is pretty good considering we didn’t pregnancy-test last year and got 96 per cent success rate.”
Mr Hatton said he would not have stopped artificially inseminating (AI) the cattle, which is what the former owner chose to do.
“I now prefer to buy heifer (low birth weight) bulls and sell the calves,” he said.
“I don’t keep them as long as the breeders.
“I keep the earlier-born heifers, born in the first six weeks, as they’re usually the most fertile.”
Although he sourced his Angus bulls from multiple studs, Mr Hatton said he also used Charolais bulls over the secondary cows to increase growth in the calves.
“I like the Texas Angus bulls from Warialda and Kansas Angus bulls from Boggabri, because of their growth and easy doing nature,” he said.
“Each year I buy one or two bulls, but last year I bought four and some Charolais bulls.”
“The general idea is to sell the June-July drop calves in March-April at the saleyards, but there’s no such thing as a normal season,” he said.
Mr Hatton said he would run closer to 550 breeders instead of 350 if the season allowed.
Early January rain of 33 millimetres in Wee Waa, the first lot of proper rain he’d had in more than three months, would hopefully help put weight on some of the cattle, he said.
“The country is dry here, we only have winter cereals like oats and wheat in,” he said.
Mr Hatton said the dry weather had caused clover problems in the past and he had to supplementary feed.
“It all depends on mother nature. I’ve fed out 10 times in the past 12 years and I’m not far off feeding again.”