When John Plantinga and his wife Annie left The Netherlands, both at the age of 20, they had no idea they would end up running a successful commercial Angus operation at Brown’s Creek, 38 kilometres outside of Orange.
The cattle are grass-fed when we can, but you have to have the grass to be able to do that, which is pretty tough at the moment
After trying their hand at potato growing and then sheep, the Plantingas found their footing with Angus cattle and have not looked back.
They are proud to promote their stock as grass-fed, and under the current dry conditions they have been forced to be very diligent in their pasture management on their 356-hectare property Belle Vue.
"We have about 200 cows, selling the calves straight to the abattoir when they hit 500 kilograms,” Mr Plantinga said.
“We predominantly sell straight to the abattoir, but sometimes we will sell to a feedlot. When we sell them to the abattoir, fat score is very important. They need to have over 4mm of fat.”
The Plantingas like to be able to sell their cattle as certified grass-fed beef, but limited pasture makes it difficult in some seasons.
“The cattle are grass-fed when we can, but you have to have the grass to be able to do that, which is pretty tough at the moment.”
The Plantingas purchase five or six bulls each year mainly from Kywarra Angus near Carcoar to keep 40 to 45 on farm.
Mr Plantinga looks for value for money when purchasing bulls, but believes quality comes first.
“I try to buy good bulls at not much money,” Mr Plantinga said.
“Sometimes at sales you can get bulls with similar genetics and same figures as the top bulls without paying as much.
“On the other hand, sometimes you have to pay for really good quality. To get the results at calving, bull quality is really important.”
The Plantingas breeding program begins later than other operations to make sure they maximise their pastures.
“We join them at the start of November for them to calve in early August, with an eight-week calving period,” Mr Plantinga said.
“Because we are at a high altitude, we are a little bit later than other places. It is what is best to utilise the pasture to the maximum. Generally speaking, I like to keep my cattle in good nick, but that is even more important around breeding.”
With such a strong focus on selling their cattle as grass-fed, pasture management plays a big part in the Belle Vue operation.
“Pasture management is very important as we have to look after our grasses – it is the best feed for our cattle,” Mr Plantinga said.
“We keep weeds under control and that helps us have good pastures. We also have a 40-hectare cropping program of oats which is primarily used for feed or stripped if we have a good year with pasture.”