Relative newbies to the commercial beef cattle game, Brad and Melanie Monico, of Kings Plains, are relishing their return to the country after several years in the city.
The couple and their young children Riley, 12, Danny, 7 and Dylan, 6, began their commercial Angus herd three years ago, now running about 160 breeders on their 202ha property, “Stonehill.”
After several years of practice and experimentation, Mr Monico says the young family’s Angus operation is going from strength to strength.
“We spent the first few years building our herd size and expanding. Now we have the size, we are becoming more focused on genetics and quality.”
The operation began with the purchase of cows and calves from local saleyards.
“We would have bought around 100 units.
“Then we simply grew by keeping numbers of replacement heifers,” Mr Monico said.
In line with a new focus on quality genetics, the Monicos purchase bulls from the Te Mania Angus Stud.
“We have found that their bulls really match our breeding objectives. One of the most important traits is the 200-day growth for calves,” Mr Monico said.
“We also look for maternal traits, growth rates and calving ease. The intramuscular fat is also important.
“Good feet, a strong backline, good stepping and how the bull carries itself as well,” he said.
“We also cull for temperament, and fertility issues.”
The family turns off progeny at weaner sales at the CTLX Carcoar in April, apart from some replacement heifers which are retained to improve genetics across the cow herd.
“In the past we had trialled keeping some steers up to the 400-450-kilogram mark to sell direct to the feedlots, however we found that the weaners worked better for us.
“We can increase our cow numbers and still get the premium for young Angus cattle at the weaner sales,” said Mr Monico.
Cows are joined on October 1, for a 10-week period, with one bull per 40 cows.
With a July 10 calving, the family is currently approaching the end of the first month of calving, with around 35 calves already on the ground.
The Monicos have a calving percentage of about 85-90pc.
Temperament the Key
For Brad and Melanie Monico, “Stonehill”, Kings Plains, breeding cattle with good temperament is critical to their endeavours selling off progeny at weaner sales.
“We want to breed easy doing, hardy cattle with good temperament.
“Docility is key for us when we have them and for when we sell them on,” Mr Monico said.
The couple wean their young cattle seven days prior to the CTLX weaner sale in April, feeding onto calf pellets before taking them back to the paddock for the week leading up to the sales.
Mr Monico said this process is not only beneficial for the prospective buyer but also reduces stress for the cattle being sold.
“It’s a lot better for the animal, and a lot easier for the buyers. The animals go in calmer and a lot less stressed when travelling, and much quieter in the pens,” Mr Monico said.