A SHIFT to Angus cattle has resulted in market premiums for the Thompson family at Coolah.
Hamish and Hayley Thompson, along with their children Quentin, 3, and Penny, 10 months, have a 700 Angus breeders, run over 2500 hectares at “Belang”, south of Coolah.
Mr Thompson’s father started the swing to Angus cattle about 20 years ago, switching from a Hereford base.
“We had Santa Gertrudis for a little while, then black baldies, and it’s been a pure Angus herd for the past 15 years,” Mr Thompson said.
“We used to grow bullocks, but since there’s a lot more lotfeeding, we’re backgrounding steers for feeder cattle.”
The Thompsons have been using Choice Angus genetics for the past six years, looking for bulls with strong growth rates, particularly 200- and 400-day weight.
“I looked at a lot of studs during the beef week open days, and Tim and Bec (Brazier, principals of Choice Angus) had cattle that were just as good as some of the top studs in the breed,” Mr Thompson said.
“The genetics that we’re using are producing heavier weaners, and we’re turning off our steers much earlier. Years ago, we were turning them off at 24 to 26 months of age, and now they’re almost the same weight at 14 to 18 months.”
All calves are yard weaned, with the steers finished on crops. The Thompsons grow about 200ha of oats or wheat each year.
With the Angus breed often setting the standard for prices through feedlots, Mr Thompson is able to get good premiums for his cattle.
“We sell a lot to Caroona (JBS), as well as Rangers Valley (at Glen Innes) and Whyalla (at Texas), and we get an Angus premium through all of them, which is a huge benefit.”
With good genetics coming through the herd from Choice Angus bulls, the Thompsons keep about 50 per cent of the heifer calves, with the rest sold to Wagyu breeders in Queensland.
“It’s a great market that’s been fantastic for us over the past few years. Caroona doesn't feed heifers at the moment, so when the Wagyu job popped up, it was a godsend for us.”