ANGUS cattle are allowing Jim and Jane Ives to meet a range of markets according to the season.
The Ives family has been breeding Angus cattle for about 15 years, after shifting from Herefords.
The 450 breeders are run under a holistic management system on 10,000-hectare property Glencoe, near Hay, with rotational grazing allowing the Ives to focus on grass-fed production in most seasons.
The Ives have been using Hazeldean genetics from the start, with the bulls’ longevity a big bonus.
“They had a stud close to us – almost next door – for about 10 years, so we’ve always bought from them,” Mr Ives said.
“We had a couple of Hazeldean bulls that we’d been using to eight years of age, and others were only getting a few joinings, so we’re getting longevity out of them.
“I think that comes from their cow base – they run their stud like a commercial operation, where every animal has to perform.”
Mr Ives is looking for bulls to produce early maturing calves with positive fat.
“It’s often dry here, so we go for something with fat cover, moderate birthweight and good calving ease.
“We look at 400-day weight and want a pretty small mature cow weight, because we want to keep a moderate sized herd.”
Calves are first marketed to pasture assured programs through JBS or Teys, but can also be sold as feeder steers to multiple feedlots in the area.
“The grass-fed job is really good in a good season, but we've got some pretty big feedlots around here with JBS, and with those there's always a good premium for Angus cattle,” Mr Ives said.
“We aim for a 280 kilogram to 320kg carcase at 18 months of age. With the rotational grazing, we always like to keep 150 days of feed ahead of them, and if not, we'll send them earlier, around 15 months.
“We’re also EU-accredited, which gives us another avenue for selling heifers at 12 to 16 months, either through the feedlots or restockers.
“The premium for EU cattle is not there at the moment, but in the past it’s been a 15 cent per kilogram premium.”
The cattle are run on all native pastures, with a boost feed in winter with ryegrass and wild oats.
”We also have some saltbush and we've really noticed a big difference in pasture composition since we've done rotational grazing.
“The average rest period is 150 days for each paddock, and that’s really got us on the ball as far as feed budgeting goes.
“We move our cattle, on average, every three days, and you become very aware of whether you've over or under estimated the amount of feed in the paddock.”
Mr Ives only feeds in dry times, but chooses to put cattle on the road or on agistment before selling early.
“We also have a lease block at Tibooburra near Cameron's Corner, and that's an option for us as well in some seasons,” he said.
“We have cattle at Cowra at the moment, but we've had agistment from Cunnamulla right through northern and western NSW, which limits the need to sell cattle quickly.
“Last year we early weaned our calves at four to five months, and we were feeding 500 head in the yards at one stage.
“We were planning to feed through to the weaner sales at Barnawartha, but when the rain came and the market kicked, we put them on AuctionsPlus. Three quarters went to Tasmania and the rest went to Barraba.
“That’s the first time we’ve sold weaners in 25 years, but we’re flexible with markets according to the season.”