Beef cattle often have to take a “back seat” to cropping on a large-scale mixed farming business on the Liverpool Plains and that’s why the owners like Simmentals so much.
Richard Burns, a partner in Belandi Pty Ltd which operates three properties covering a total 3900 hectares between Spring Ridge and Blackville, says Simmentals bring an “easy care” capability to the 334-head crossbred cow herd.
“We are predominantly farming (cropping). The Simmental crosses are easy care. They work the country better and don’t have as many eye and udder problems (as other breeds),” Mr Burns said.
“That’s a big thing when the cattle have to take a back seat.”
Mr Burns and his wife, Robina (“Beans”) run the business with her brother, James Crossing and his wife, Jackie.
The grazing operation covers 1400ha which includes sandy “islands” sown down to sub-tropical pastures (including Bambatsi panic, love grass and Rhodes grass) and basalt ridge country which includes 200ha of improved perennial pastures (including lucerne, phalaris, clovers and fescue).
The family partnership has also developed 200ha for irrigation (lateral and flood), watered from bores, which produces mainly corn in summer and barley and chickpeas in winter.
The development of more land for irrigation was being considered but, among other factors, the proximity of coal mines have raised fears about damage to undergound aquifers.
Mr Burns said any decision to grow irrigated cotton would require a major upgrade of machinery and would lock the family into growing the crop.
Beef cattle are rarely grazed on cropping country, except in drought.
The beef herd started out with Poll Hereford/Simmental crosses and Angus was gradually added into the mix.
Now the breeding herd is split into two groups with 184 Angus/Hereford cross cows which are joined to Simmental bulls and 150 half Simmental and 25 per cent each Hereford and Angus which are joined to cross Simmental/Angus bulls.
They opportunity purchase Angus/Hereford cross cows every few years.
Mr Burns said for the past 15 to 20 years all Simmental bulls had been sourced from the Wombramurra stud at Nundle.
“We like Wombramurra (bulls), they don’t get fed any grain,” he said.