A sixth and ninth placed overall finish for Matt Shea and his mother, Margaret, in the Beef Spectacular Feedback Trial was the result of decades of refining their purebred Angus herd.
The Shea family also took home Reserve Champion in the Teys Certified Premium Black Angus Champion pen of five category of the trial, showing consistency in the herd.
Mr Shea manages and lives on farm with his wife, Karly, and their three sons - Jasper (6), Charlie (4) and Riley (5 months). Farming on 1214 hectares, 20km north of Kyneton, the family has run a beef operation there since 1975, forming Barfold Beef eight years ago.
They now join between 650 and 700 Angus females, calving between 500 and 550 each year. Joining more than their requirements allows more flexibility for marketing.
The majority of the herd is now Te Mania blood with some influence from Jarobee bulls at Beechworth.
“Fourteen years ago we wanted to lift our cattle, we bought eight bulls from Te Mania and since then we have been using them consistently.”
Mr Shea places emphasis on calving ease and temperament in his bull selection, along with marbling and IMF.
“As weaner producers we want to get calves off as quickly as possible so we do look at the 200- and 400-day weights, ideally we want easy-doing, moderately framed cattle.”
Over the past four years the family has sought to strengthen the herd’s genetics, embarking on an AI program with heifers, sourcing semen from leading stud, Te Mania.
“We artificially inseminated 130 heifers last September and 40 heifers in the autumn.”
Heifers are joined at the end of September for a start of July calving and at the end of May for a start of March calving.
The majority of their weaners are sold at Barnawartha in May or June to backgrounders and feedlots.
Mr Shea says much of the success now being enjoyed by the family can be attributed to the years of tireless effort put in by his father, Raymond, who passed away last March.
“He was the driving force of the beef operation here for many years. He would have been very excited to see us have some success in the feedlot competition. Where we are now is a huge testament to his commitment and dedication.”
Competing in the feedlot trial for the third time, Mr Shea says it has been a fantastic opportunity to learn the ins and outs of feedlot marketing.
“As someone who is producing weaners, we see how to take them to that heavier weight and which cattle are going to be the most productive in the feedlot.”