David Wirth with wife Helen and son Ben at “Glengarry”, Glen Elgin, are reaping the gains of extra weight and yield in their beef operation by crossing with Wombramurra Black Simmental bulls.
In total, the Wirths run a 350 mainly Euro and Euro cross herd over 1902 hectares spanning across three properties.
They also buy in 200 to 300 nine to 10-month-old weaner steers every year to finish and trade. They are sold to the feedlot market, at a maximum weight of 500 kilograms.
The steers are all run at “Glengarry” and the other two properties play host to a majority of the breeders.
The Wirths maintain a self-replacing herd, comprising of both Black Simmental/Angus cross and other crossbred females, with some of the progeny being joined to a Black Simmental bull.
“We have been great believers of crossbred cattle for a long time – there are great advantages involved,” Mr Wirth said.
“The Black Simmentals really fit into our program.
“Because of the hybrid vigour that comes with crossbreeding we are achieving extra frame, extra yield and weight gain.
“We believe we have an increased advantage with the high yielding type of cattle we are now achieving.”
Mr Wirth said the Black Simmental cross has had a positive contribution to the bottom line of their business.
“We find the Black Simmental cross to be a very adaptable animal, that is suitable for a wide range of markets,” he said.
“The black premium we are receiving is adding to our profitability. The females are also a feature of the breed.”
The connection to the Black Simmentals came after an initiation with the red and white Simmentals. They bought weaners out of western Victoria every year since 2005 – red and white Simmentals with a splash of Hereford through them.
“The weight gains we got out of them were quite unbelievable – I think that is what put us on the path of the Black Simmentals,” Mr Wirth said.
“But we also incorporate a red Simmental bull in within our breeding herd.
“We first saw Wombramurra cattle five or six years ago, and I could see the potential back then. Now we buy about two bulls a year from Andrew Chapman, and we are very respectful of his input.
“He has done a wonderful job with the Wombramurra herd. What he has done with their temperament and conformation is quite brilliant.”
The increased weight gain due to crossbreeding with the Black Simmental adds to Mr Wirth’s herd, which allows him to sell confidently to his preferred markets – either to feedlots or sold as prime cattle through processors.
Any over weights are kept and fed on supplementary feed on gran at “Glengarry”.
Weaners are sold to the feedlot at 18 to 20 months-old.
Those that are finished on grain are sold through the prime market at about two and a half years-old.
“We believe with the cross we are getting a premium for weight with our cull cows,” Mr Wirth said. “We are also seeing better framed cows and they are excellent mothers.”
Manager of Wombramurra Black Simmentals, Andrew Chapman, said he has had a number of clients who have seen improvements in their weaning weights through using the Black Simmentals.
“We have had constant reports that weaning weights are 30 to 50 kilograms heavier than a straight Angus,” Mr Chapman said.
“The main attributes by using a Black Simmental are increased weights, retaining of the black colour, crossbred females are more profitable and the longevity in the bulls is increased.
The main joining takes place October 1, but first-calf heifers are joined early June to calve down in the autumn months. After their first calving they join the rest of the herd for joining on October 1.
The normal joining period is for 10 to 11 weeks.
“We find this very beneficial, to join the first-calf heifers earlier, it gets them out of the picture and we have had a great run with it,” Mr Wirth said.
At “Glengarry” the cattle are weaned in small paddocks handled with horses and dogs.
“To me the education at weaning time is most important,” Mr Wirth said.
The entire process takes just over a week before they are drenched and drafted into mobs. Time is again spent with the cattle once they are into mobs, again on horseback.
Situated in a 40 inch rainfall area, the ‘light country’ at Glen Elgin doesn’t prove too much of a problem for the cattle. “The country is well improved, so it does a magic job with the cattle because of the rainfall,” Mr Wirth said. “Rarely is there times when supplementary feeding is introduced, only when needed in the harsher climatic spells.”
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE STUD BREEDER
Mr Wirth said stud breeders are very important to them, believing they have to be looking forward all of the time. “Realistically they have to be in front of the commercial breeder when it comes to genetics,” Mr Wirth said.
“I think it is imperative that you have people in the stud industry that you have a relationship with and we feel we have a very good relationship with Wombramurra – in particular Andrew, who is very approachable.”