BUYING bulls at one of the Hereford breed's premier multi-vendor sale provides the Merriman family with a range of quality genetics for their stud and commercial operation based at Little Range, Boorowa.
Jono and Annalise Merriman run about 250 Poll Hereford cattle, including breeders and progeny, having taken over the cattle and sheep business of CT Merriman & Son last year, from Jono's parents, Charlie and Pip.
The Merrimans run the Merrignee Poll Hereford Stud as well as Merino Poll Merino studs, Koonwarra and Merrignee, with the cattle stud's focus on producing herd bulls for their own commercial cattle operation, with excess bulls sold privately.
The family has been purchasing bulls through the annual Herefords Australia National Show and Sale at Dubbo, on and off, for many years.
The Merriman source bulls with good shape, with moderate frame and with easy doing ability, with milk, growth, temperament and structure being the main priorities when sourcing a new Hereford sire.
"We are JBS grass-fed accredited," Jono Merriman said.
"So, if the season allows, we aim to finish our steers and classed out heifers through the grass-fed sale system. We need cattle to have the ability to grow out on grass with thickness and depth through their body shape."
In extended dry times we sell down our female numbers and we need to have good doing females that can handle all different environments to whenever they are sent to as breeders.
"We use a black Angus bull over our commercial heifers in their first year of calving to produce black baldies with hybrid vigour. Whether they are steers or heifers, all these black baldy offspring are sold off."
The family makes use of the grazing crops to finish progeny, with the steers and heifers weaned onto grazing wheat and oats, Mr Merriman said.
You can go to Dubbo and source some good bulls with whatever price tag you have got, and last year we were lucky to secure two good bulls for the prices we paid.
"We make a decision in August (when progeny are around 11 months of age) on how their body weights are going and with consideration of our pastures or crops, then decide whether we can get them through to the grass-fed market.
"If they don't meet that market we can turn them off as feeder steers, but if you leave your decision too late there could be a three week lag, or longer, to get in to that market, which is why we start weighing up our decisions in mid-August."
About 30 or 40 heifers are retained each year, with a second culling based on shape at joining and another cull on fertility, for all joined females, after preg testing.
From last year's Dubbo sale, the Merrimans took home the champion senior bull, Rayleigh Magnum M009, for $16,000, along with Tahlan Masked Crusader M056, for $4000.
"The annual Dubbo Hereford show and sale is a very good event to see a lot of the top NSW Hereford studs and a number of other studs from South Australia and Queensland," Mr Merriman said.
"As buyers we have found over the years there are very good bulls offered for sale throughout the catalogue. We feel that the sale ring at Dubbo is a good place to get great value for your money, when we are looking for the next stud sire or a commercial herd bull.
"You can go to Dubbo and source some good bulls with whatever price tag you have got, and last year we were lucky to secure two good bulls for the prices we paid.
"We did feel that due to the large area of eastern Australia being in drought when the sale was on, and understandably it was an exceptional opportunity for buyers like us to access top genetics, for very reasonable prices.
"The two bulls we purchased at last year's sale have stood up very well after their first year here at Little Range, in our natural environment in the paddocks with no pampering needed.
"Both bulls have maintained their structure, conformation and body shape which is what we were looking for when we went to Dubbo last year.
"We are really looking forward to seeing their progeny on the ground, when calving starts this spring."