BREEDING strong cows able to handle all conditions is the priority for Philip Currey with his whiteface cattle at "Glenroy", Pilliga.
Mr Currey runs 150 breeders, including about 120 cows and 30 replacement heifers, producing weaners.
But the steers are just a by-product of his breeder production, he said.
“My focus has always been on the cows,” he said.
“I see the steers as a by-product of breeding good quality cows.
“The steers go from here and buyers are happy with them because the genetics are there for them to grow out.”
Mr Currey has been using Truro Hereford bulls for the past 25 years.
“I try to buy at least one new bull a year to bring in new genetics,” he said.
He looks for low birthweight bulls with moderate growth.
“I want the EBV (estimated breeding value) for 600-day weight to be no higher than +65 because I don’t want my cattle to grow too big,” Mr Currey said.
“I’m breeding a moderate framed animal that's does well anywhere and its progeny will grow out on good feed.”
Cows are joined for three months starting in October, while the heifers are joined in March.
“We were joining heifers earlier but now I’m letting them grow out to 18 months before they’re joined which has made calving much easier,” Mr Currey said.
“I haven't lost a heifer this time and I lost up to eight before. We haven’t even had to assist any with calving.”
Mr Currey selects the best 30 heifers to keep each year, with a focus on structure and type.
“I like heifers with a moderate frame that’s a good looking animal. I don't care if it's the youngest calf in the mob as long as she’d the right type. We also cull on temperament. That’s the biggest thing – they need to be quiet and easy to handle.”
The cows are kept until they’re five or six years of age.
”We cull them at five or six – you don’t want old cows on the marginal country here,” he said.
Cull heifers are sold as weaners through store sales alongside the steers, with Mr Currey selling at Narrabri, Tamworth and Dubbo, depending on the season.
“We take them wherever the rain falls – that’s where you’ll get the best money. The steers went to Tamworth last time and the top pen made $960 a head.”
Mr Currey doesn’t do anything special for the weaners but he tries to give the cows a boost at calving.
“We try to calve them onto oats which is good for the cow when the calf is on the ground and we give them hay, oats and dry lick before calving.”