Targeting MSA at Merriwa

Targeting MSA at Merriwa


Beef
Greg Watson with two-year-old steers at "Peters Creek", Merriwa.

Greg Watson with two-year-old steers at "Peters Creek", Merriwa.

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Greg Watson uses genetics from the New England Angus Breeders sale on three properties in the Merriwa area.

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ANGUS genetics from studs in the New England Angus Breeders (NEAB) sale are used in the production of grass-fed Meat Standards Australia (MSA) beef from three Yore Farms properties in the Merriwa area.

Manager Greg Watson runs up to 2000 head over 3500 hectares at "Peter's Creek", Cassilis, and Merriwa properties "Templemore" and "Parkway".

Angus and Charolais cattle are used in the crossbreeding operation.

“We put the black bulls over the crossbred cows and Charolais bulls over the black cows to continue the crossbreeding,” Mr Watson said.

“The Angus breeders do very well with with their mothering ability and milking.

“When they go through the Wingham abattoir it doesn't matter what colour they are, but we get the hybrid vigour from crossbreeding.”

Mr Watson has been targeting the MSA market for the past 12 years.

“We were growing out for the European Union market but MSA has been good for us with the prices and the weights because they don't have to be as specific as the EU market,” he said.

“There’s a bit more leeway with the final weights, and heifers can go in as well as steers.”

Mr Watson bought six bulls from three studs at last year’s NEAB sale at Tamworth.

“One of those bulls was a heifer bulls and they’ve just finished calving with no trouble,” he said.

“I’m looking for an upstanding bull, straight along the back line, with a good temperament and good figures for 600-day weight gain, with moderate birthweight.”

The 10-week joining period begins in the first week of October.

“It might be a little bit longer than some joining periods but I'd rather have a calf than none,” Mr Watson said.

Calves are yard weaned at eight to nine months of age.

“We try to spend as much time with them as we can, feeding them and working with the dogs.

“When you’re growing them out to 700-kilogram steers, you need them quiet.”

The steers are grown out to two years of age to get as close to 700kg as possible.

The best heifers are retained, and the rest grown out on oats alongside the steers.

“The heifers head to Wingham at a smaller weight, about 260kg dressed, but we try to the steers to 340kg, 350kg,” Mr Watson said.

About 98 per cent of production heads to Wingham Beef Exports, where Mr Watson’s cattle performed well in a recent grass-fed MSA challenge.

“We had to have four loads killed to be eligible and we came second.

“It’s a challenge based on the MSA qualifications, as well as the number of our cattle that made the MSA grades.”

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