For Stephen and Sarah Palmer, “Kyeamba Downs”, Wagga Wagga, achieving Reserve Grand Champion at the Beef Spectacular Feedback trial was the result of many years of careful genetic development and a willingness to keep learning.
The Palmer family have farmed on the 1230 hectare Wagga Wagga farm since Stephen’s grandfather purchased the property in 1949.
The family’s farming interest was formerly in Herefords but nowadays has shifted to black cattle.
The herd was based on the majority purchase of the Geramy stud cows when they dispersed in 2011.
Now Mr Palmer and his wife join 500 heifers and cows.
The steers entered into this year’s feedback trial were sired by Raff Dazzler H33 and Dunoon Gabba, bulls which Mr Palmer bought from the Old Kentucky dispersal several years ago.
That was the beginning of the family buying Angus bulls and has led to an influx of genetics from across Australia and abroad into his herd.
“When we started with Angus cattle the majority of the herd were AI’d by myself. The first AI sires used were from Lawsons Novac, Merridale Gem and Karoo Generator.
“Lately I have used Granite Ridge Kaiser, also Pathfinder Complete and a bull called Sav Ten Speed. Since then I have bought bulls from Reiland and Alpine and last year I bought bulls from Waitara and Witherswood,” he said.
Mr Palmer carefully assesses the traits of potential bulls to identify improvement areas in his herd.
“When I look at buying bulls I pick a few but use Breedplan to make my final selection,” he said.
“I try and buy bulls with birthweights under five but if the bull is particularly good I am willing to go to six.
“I want a bull in the top 10 per cent for all their growth traits, carcase traits and retail beef yield.
“I am looking for more mature, bigger cattle with good length,” he said.
The Palmers operate a split calving, with single joining at the autumn calving and multi-joining in the spring calving.
Autumn drop heifers calve at the end of February and the cows in mid March. Autumn drop cattle are weaned between October and December. Spring calvers start calving in August.
Cattle are grazed on native grasses and improved pastures with supplementary hay fed in the leaner months.
Mr Palmer says the feedback trial result was a very welcome surprise.
“We have entered four times. The first two times were a real learning curve,” he said.
This year I was very interested to see the figures to see whether what I have been doing is correct and I am very pleased with the results,” he said.