At 900 metres, the Angus enterprise run by Elaine Mason and her daughter-in-law, Sascha, at “Julong”, Tumorrama, between Tumut and Wee Jasper, must be one of the highest breeding herds in Australia.
On the 1014 hectare property, 870 Angus cattle graze on highly improved pastures, wrought from the surrounding bush by Elaine’s late husband, Tony, from when he purchased the property in 1966.
“It was originally summer lease country held by the Luff family at Coolac, and Tony had a great vision that he thought would take him no time at all,” Elaine recalls. “But we are still doing it.”
The cattle depression of 1974 to 1979 held the Masons back, just as they were getting going again after the 1968 drought.
“It was very bad here, and there was no agistment almost anywhere and it was very severe,” Ms Mason recalled.
“So we stopped selling our weaners and kept them to yearlings so they had more weight and size.”
In 1980 they were leasing the neighboring property, and decided to buy sheep and started breeding their own lambs.
“At one stage we ran 10,000 sheep, and it was too much work for me because Tony had gone contracting,” she said.
“We sold our sheep in 1989 reducing our numbers to 5000 at the time of the Tiananmen Square protests, because we thought that was the end of the wool market.”
However, they decided “Julong” really was cattle country and the current herd was established.
“We had always run about 100 cows bred from Bongongo bloodlines,” Elaine said. “The Angus are great doers, they are very tough and suit the area, and we believe in poll cattle for their ease of handling and less damage to other cattle.”
Ms Mason said the breed had great statistics within a modern group of breeders doing a lot of tests which were not just hearsay.
“They are focusing on modern trends, and when they started with the measurements we thought it was a very progressive society,” she said.
Sascha said they have focused upon particular genetic traits which they thought important to lift productivity.
“We were one of the first people to buy sires by American bulls in this area which was a bit radical,” Elaine said.
“Figures are important because you can measure what you are doing and feedlots were just emerging so it was very important to have marbling and eye muscle area, along with balanced animals.”
Elaine and Sascha Mason have settled into a stock management regime of yard weaning their calves and growing them out to feedlot entry weight of 470 kilograms.