FLEXIBILITY is key for Woolbrook Angus producers Doug and Nadine Powell when making that crucial decision about which market to target.
The Powells run 200 Kilburney bloodline Angus cows on leased acreage next door to their fat lamb production and trade cattle enterprise on the western slopes of the New England dividing range, between Walcha and Bendemeer.
“It works well leasing the neighboring property “Wanderriby” from David and Carolyn Salter,” Mr Powell said.
“It gives them more time to pursue other interests and us a chance to run more country.
“We purchased two bulls at last year’s New England Angus sale from Tamworth agent and breeder Chris Paterson, whose stud name is Heart Angus.”
Chasing the grass fed market has been a positive experience and the Powells have found the black breed an ideal complement to their system.
“It really depends on the year whether we grow out our EU certified steers or sell them as weaners,” Mr Powell said.
First of all pregnant cows need good nutrition followed by close calving – Mr Powell prefers a short window starting in July.
This year the family enterprise sold 135 Angus weaners at the April sales in Walcha and kept the rest with the intention of growing them out on good spring pasture.
As grass fed producers the family prefers to chase a niche market, selling milk-tooth steers around the 600 to 650kg live weight range, finished on improved pasture or crop.
“They are too heavy for Coles or Woolworths,” Mr Powell said. “They can average $1800 with all of them grading MSA.”
Nippon’s NH Foods, part of Wingham Export Abattoirs, is their preferred buyer and they sell the meat under the Wingham Gold grassfed brand.
“There’s no antibiotics, and no grain assistance,” Mr Powell said.
Of course at the moment there is not very much growing green, no thanks to a hard summer, and the Powells are feeding cattle on cottonseed.
“If it had been a good year we would have been grazing them on oats and and rye,” Mr Powell said. “But if everything is OK in spring we will spray out a paddock and plant with the aim of finishing those cattle in February.”