MERINOS were the mainstay at “Mayfield”, Birriwa, for many decades and cattle were used to pay the “bills”.
However, times have changed for Geoff and Sue Rains, and Angus are now the mainstay.
Geoff’s father, Jack, was a keen stud breeder with his flock based on Yarrawin and Pooginook blood and prided himself with show wins throughout the Central West.
“The sheep were the bread and butter and the cattle we traded paid many of the debts each year,” Mr Rains said.
But that all changed in 2014 when the sheep were sold and Angus began to graze the Mayfield paddocks.
“We bought a mob of 70 heifers from the Walgett brigalow country.
“They had origins from the Walcha region, and they became our base.”
Then the purchase of three Millah Murrah bulls and according to Mr Rains, he has never looked back.
He bought another one the next year.
Bulls are put in on September 20 for eight weeks, although Mr Rains said he was cutting back joining length as gestation periods had shortened by about 10 days.
“I’d like to bring the joining back to six weeks as fertility and milk are improving,” he said.
Calving begins from July 1 and weaning is in November “as the season tightens”.
Normally the Rains keep their steers until close to 16 months and sell direct to Caroona feedlot, but last year’s extraordinary winter and spring resulted in them turning off their steers at 11 to 12 months at weights averaging 334 kilograms, topping at 380kg.
They headed directly to Prime City feedlot, Tabbita.
In recent months some of their cast-for-age matrons have been marketed through Dubbo saleyards for excellent returns.
Superphosphate and lime are important additions to Mayfield paddocks, sweetening up the slightly acid soils from past years of sheep grazing.
Mr Rains has spread 330 hectares, about half of the area, and have begun growing digit grasses which have increased the grazing and finishing capacity.
“I have three mobs, mainly first calvers and some steers getting two feeds of oaten hay a week,” he said.
“They do extremely well on this with the tropical pastures.”