THERE is a progression towards organic beef at Dongdingalong on the Macleay where Ed and Kim Lahey, of Dungay Park Angus, have been producing black bulls for nearly 30 years.
Their original holding of 75ha backing into timbered country above Dungay Creek has lately produced an annual production of a dozen Angus bulls, maintaining that larger frame size.
However the partnership recently purchased another 75ha directly across the creek - the site of an old dairy with alluvial flats and 3km frontage to Dungay Creek.
Suddenly the Laheys have room to improve and right away this former builder increased cow numbers to 100 including 20 cows in calf from the Banquet line.
“I had to agist them at Glencoe to let them calve down in order to avoid offspring getting the tick borne disease thyleria,” he said.
By moving to low residue practice Mr Lahey believes it won’t be long before the intensively farmed dairy regains its microbial soil count which from that point the switch to organic certification will be well under way.
The goal to go organic won’t yield him any more beef dollars during this current incredible spike in prices but as a premium brand this Angus product will continue to hold value.
“We have limited the use of chemical drenches over the last 10 years and our cattle don’t suffer with worms,” he says, explaining how far along the organic path Dungay Park has come.
They have kept worms at bay by drenching cattle with trace elements and nutrient concentrate at the beginning of each season to boost the gut population of beneficial microbes.
They also apply mineral supplements to their paddocks by direct drill, so the fused magnesium calcium and phosphate prill is directed to the root zone where plants need it most.
“It’s important to get the balance right,” he said.
It is also critical for Mr Lahey to maintain an adequate stocking rate on his property that maintains cattle all year ‘round.
“The key is to assess the correct stocking rate for your land and the local climatic conditions this enables you to keep the paddocks and the herd in top condition 365 days of the year,” he says. “For every week your cattle lose condition it takes a further two weeks on quality feed to return them to original condition.”
Larger frame for grass fed results
Mr Lahey’s Dungay Park Angus bloodline goes back a long way. Not as long as the Lahey family has been on the mid north coast - James Lahey came to Port Macquarie as a convict in the early 1800s.
“It’s a good district here and we never considered leaving,” said Mr Lahey, whose parents’s herd had departed far enough from the traditional Hereford to consider starting an Angus stud.
At the time, 1964, Ed’s father Eric purchased ‘Willsboro’ at Rollands Plains, in the Hastings catchment, and was the first in the valley to introduce the larger-framed six-plus Angus.
Recent infusions at Dungay Park have included Millah Murrah bloodlines and in 2012 Mr Lahey purchased Raff Fonzy F352 for $30,000 and is well pleased with the sire’s extraordinary growth figures. The Laheys last year purchased Millah Murrah Tex, half brother to the top selling 150,000 bull at that stud’s sale.
This year they purchased a bull from the Banquet sale to further boost bloodlines.
“Raff Fonzy has been a real boost for the Dungay Park Angus line,” said Mr Lahey. “ producing strong bulls for the commercial man and wonderful females.”