ANGUS genetics plays a crucial role in John Pierce’s herd of Angus/ Hereford at Yorklea where do-ability and fertility help keep a lid on costs.
Mr Pierce’s breeding herd has its roots back in his father’s Hereford cattle, which Stan ran at Old Bonalbo – first putting an Angus bull over them in the 1970s.
These days Mr Pierce, a retired photography teacher who spent four decades in front of a class of students, says he is blessed with a living and a lifestyle, looking after 60 breeders on 87 hectares, including some leased country.
His Angus bulls don’t travel far, and are well acclimatised when they arrive, having been raised by Bruce Lyle and family who live literally down the road.
“I prefer Bruce’s bulls,” he said. “And besides, Bruce is honest.
“He tests every beast to make sure they are 100 per cent free from genetic disorders which might lead to infertility. He does DNA testing.”
Considering the narrow gene pool of Angus, Bruce is well down the road of improvement, says Mr Pierce, who prefers to select for quiet temperament, fertility and ease of calving.
“In recent prior years I de-stocked and last year let one heifer get too fat on available pasture and had to pull her first calf but she got pregnant again this year with no trouble,” he said.
Record keeping is key to Mr Pierce’s operation and enjoying that task makes things easier.
Close monitoring has led to a right calving period of the whole herd from April to June which gives him flexibility if spring comes in dry – as it often does on the North Coast. Mr Pierce is fortunate to farm on land which fronts a flood plain tributary of Deep Creek.
In a kinder year late calving allows Mr Thompson to chase the better sales prior to and just after Christmas.
It is surprising just how long the white face of a Black Baldy will ‘hang on’ through the generations.
Mr Pierce says his current herd is about fourth generation under an Angus bull. He is also proud of his closed female herd.
Breeder heritage all in the family
Stan Pierce, ‘Wiwi Yamba’ Old Bonalbo, was an early adopter of the Angus breed, running his first black bulls over his Hereford herd in the 1970s.
His mother Ada Maude selected the property in 1909 and Herefords were the first beef breed to graze those border ranges after the demise of family dairy.
It was a brave move to take a punt on Angus but Stan, who ran up to 700 head on 600 ha, didn’t take long to notice an immediate improvement in his herd.
“He saw that an Angus cross bullock fattened one year sooner that a pure Hereford,” said Stan’s son John, who now farms land at Yorklea.
“He could sell a three-year old Black Baldy as opposed to a four year old.”
“Dad was a conservative, having grown up in the Depression,” said John. And he made sure he earned a living off the venture, subsidising wages with home-made butter and shot rabbit. He wasn’t averse to ploughing with a horse.
“He always said anything over twenty pounds an acre was too much to pay for land,” said John, who noted Stan put a good season’s profits into Angus and shares rather than country.