STRONG market accessibility has been a bonus of running Angus cattle for Jason Cooper, manager of “Weona”, Mungindi, owned by Charlie and Ruth Hickson.
Currently, Mr Cooper’s cow herd is about 300 Angus cows and 169 Droughtmaster cows he uses for a cross breeding enterprise.
Prior to that, his cow herd was down to about 120 due to three very tough seasons, but good seasonal rainfall has allowed Mr Cooper to start rebuilding his numbers.
The Droughtmasters are a relatively new addition to Mr Cooper’s operation, after he purchased them in Western Queensland.
The cows are joined with an Angus bull and produce progeny that handles the dry very well and maintains demand in most cattle markets.
Mr Cooper produces cattle mostly for the feedlot market although being flexible is key to his operation.
If the season permits, Mr Cooper said he would plant some forage crops in the winter to feed the calves and cull heifers.
They’re then sold when they reach between 400 to 500 kilograms, directly to the abattoir.
If the season is especially good and they were able to put a crop in, Mr Cooper said he would look at the market to purchase more steers to finish for the feedlot.
Most recently, Mr Cooper sent cattle directly to Chinchilla.
His cow herd is self-replacing and maintaining quality females has been an important part of the enterprise.
He said when selecting for his herd, he’d look for a moderate framed cow with a good structure.
An absolute essential to his selection criteria is looking for females who can breed calves with good growth.
“We want them to preferably rear a weaner to 300kg by the time they’re eight to nine months old,” he said.
“By the time the steer calves are 18 months old, we want them gone, if not before.”
When selecting bulls, Mr Cooper said he would look for a nice, soft-framed animal with a good shape and general figures.
To join with his Angus cows, Mr Cooper said he concentrated more on maternal traits whereas, he concentrated more on carcase attributes for the bulls going over the Droughtmaster cows.
Bulls are put out with the female herd in December and calves are on the ground by August.
Although the season can be unpredictable, Mr Cooper said generally, winter was a bit kinder to calve in than other seasons.
Living in an often dry area, Mr Cooper said it was important to have cattle that could withstand long, hot dry periods, which the Angus cattle did quite well.