A new set of cattle yards, compressed-air operated crush and scales are now the focal point of Andrew Ledger’s operation at “Mullion Angus”, Yass.
When complete, the yards will also feature a compressed-air driven three-way draft, which will enable Mr Ledger to do all stock work through the yards as a one man operation along with occasional contract staff.
For Mr Ledger, changing the enterprise on his family's property from breeding superfine Merino sheep to an Angus female herd along with trading cattle was a big step, but necessary.
“My family came here in 1832, and I am the fifth generation with my daughters the sixth, so there is a strong connection with our land,” he said.
“We had been breeding traditional superfine Merino sheep, but our returns were gradually decreasing even though we were being assured by our buyers that ‘next year will be better’.”
It never was, and Mr Ledger doesn't regret his decision to quit the long time tradition of growing Merino sheep in favour of Angus cattle, and said he admires those who stayed with sheep.
“We couldn’t see any future for our enterprise, so I am pleased for those who have endured and now making good money,” he said.
Although the shearing shed with sheep yards now stand idle, from doing the figures, Mr Ledger decided to change to breeding Angus due to the premium paid over other breeds.
“We had suffered a few years of tough wool sales, and we were not cutting enough wool from breeding the wrong type of sheep,” he said. “Angus was the ‘flavour of the month’ and our market research showed potential for good returns from that breed.”
Mr Ledger said by the end of 2014, all his sheep were sold and he focused entirely on cattle.
“I was able to source some good Angus genetics aiming to breed quiet natured cattle presenting as thick barreled, good rump, meat cover and weight gaining qualities,” he said.
He is seeing great results with progeny and feels he has accomplished the production of high quality steers and heifers.
“All are traits indicative of growth potential, efficient feed conversion and good meat cover,” he said.
“In addition, I really enjoy the overall Angus breeding industry, it’s people and the expert contracting team of carriers and agents I work with.
“In the middle of 2015 the price of cattle went up considerably, so my timing was spot on, and it has stayed solid, confirming my big decision of switching the farm over to cattle was beneficial.”
I think the Angus cattle are giving me the best return for my investment in pasture management
Angus promotion is positive
Changing his focus away from breeding superfine Merino sheep, to becoming Angus breeders, Andrew Ledger, “The Mullion”, Yass noted they receive great promotional support from the Angus association.
“The Angus Society have developed some really great markets especially in the restaurant and fast-food trade aiming to brand and position the Angus breed in the consumer's mind,” he said.
“It’s amazing to compare the free advertising I get as an Angus breeder, compared to the absence of specific advertising for my wool enterprise of the past.”
Mr Ledger said the Angus Society started promoting the breed a long time before the other societies and the market is now consolidated into an excellent position for producers of quality stock.
Mr Ledger is also pleased with the recent opening of the SouthEast Livestock Exchange at Yass, as it gives him and other regional producers a great option for expanding their selling potential.
“At the end of the day, I am just a grass manager, and I think the Angus cattle are giving me the best return for my investment in pasture management,” he said.