WHITEFACE cattle form part of the backbone of the Roche family's operation at Adelong, which is focused on producing highly productive cattle.
Julian and Lucy Roche and their children, Eliza, Arthur, Fred and Barney, run a 600-head self-replacing herd of European Union accredited Hereford cows and another 300 Angus cows, in partnership with his parents Pat and Sue Roche, and employees Chris and Cass Nation.
The operation is based Yavendale, part of an aggregation of properties that are owned and leased in the Adelong and Gundagai areas.
The Roche family has bred Hereford cattle for generations, with bloodlines coming from multiple sources. Recent bull purchases have been from Glenellerslie and Yarram Park studs, for their high quality and consistency, and their compatibility with the Yavendale females.
The focus of the breeding program is to consistently produce marketable cattle in all years from a female herd that is moderate in size and structurally sound, Mr Roche said.
"We focus on the whole of herd sale averages and the cost of production. We also select the cattle on their visual appeal so that every day that we work we enjoy what we are looking at and what we are working with.
"Estimated breeding values (EBVs) form only part of the selection decisions. The EBV criteria is then tested against that breeding objective and must also fit within the value judgment for our program. Temperament is also extremely important."
The Roches work on a rolling 27-month schedule, calving in June and July to overlay the feed demand with supply from conception to sale.
All females must conceive, calve and raise their progeny to a high standard or they are replaced, Mr Roche said.
"This timing allows us to market all progeny and the ability to wean and pregnancy test prior to Christmas with surplus cattle out of the system on or before the change in seasons. In doing so we're minimising the number of livestock unit days in non-productive periods of the year. Market access and pricing cycles also form part of the set timings."
Steers and surplus heifers are targeted at the EU feeder market, with the goal to meet feedlot specifications - from 450 to 500 kilograms - inside one-and-a-half growing seasons, or approximately 16 months.
"As a rule there is no supplementary feeding, rather the production levels are based on the seasons.
"In good seasons feed is carried over standing and or let return to the soil, and in short or drought seasons production levels are adjusted to match the feed availability. With that being said, 2018 and 2019 required supplementary feeding of some females due to drought, and fire in 2020, the first feeding since 2006 to 2007.
"This program is possible because of the work and discipline of the previous generations and then our abilities to build on that strength and stability to grow, adapt and change for the trading environment in which we currently operate. We believe we must continue to challenge what we do to continually develop as a business and also as people within the environment in which we operate and community in which we live."
Mr Roche also contract manages an investment farming portfolio of a similar scale for a Gundagai family.
"The role allows for the management of more land, livestock and people on different farms and with a different set of business challenges.
"It provides the opportunity for marketing synergies and collaborative growth of ideas and practices."