KELVIN and Wendy Ingram have been using Angus genetics for the past five years and the shift has opened up marketing opportunities for their weaners, while also increasing growth rates in their calves.
The couple, based at Bonang, on the Victorian border between East Gippsland and the Monaro, run the operation with the help of their son Jamie and daughters Lucinda and Abbey.
They've been using Alpine Angus genetics for a few years, with the plan to convert the entire herd to Angus.
"We still have a lot of Hereford cows, but we're having good results with the black progeny, so we'll keep a portion of the heifers and we'll end up with all black cattle in time," Kelvin said.
"We were traditional Hereford breeders for 50 years, but with the Angus cattle there's more market demand, more cents per kilogram.
"The black baldies are best cattle I've got. Our Hereford cows have done well, but the market options are just not there - there's a big difference in the return for calves of the same weight."
- Boosting Angus marketing opportunities with improved pasture mix
- Shift in breeding focus helps meet grass-fed specs with Angus
- Growth, fertility and temperament in focus at Toora West
When selecting bulls, the Ingrams are looking for a low to moderate birthweight, high growth rates, and a good muscle pattern.
"We have a big emphasis on visual selection, but we use figures as well.
"We're getting good results with our herd, especially with the selection on birthweight. We marked more than 100 per cent of calves this year, and out of 300 females we only pulled three.
"Jim and Chris (from Alpine Angus) are terrific people to deal with and have excellent after sales service, which is one of the reasons we go back there each year."
We were traditional Hereford breeders for 50 years, but with the Angus cattle there's more market demand, more cents per kilogram.
Progeny is sold through the Bairnsdale store sale at the end of April.
"Bairnsdale has a big weaner sale in March, but we hang on to ours and sell them at the fortnightly sale so they're not lost in the crowd," Kelvin said.
"We have a good sized line for buyers and we've topped Bairnsdale on numerous occasions with the heifers and steers."
Many of the weaners go to repeat customers, mainly to grass finishers in the south Gippsland area, but last year's heifer portion went to feedlots.
The calves aren't having any trouble with growth rates, with those heifers ranging from 346kg to 376kg kilograms.
"They were 14 months old, weighed 376kg after coming through a tough winter and made $1040 a head. The heavy ones went to other breeders to be joined and the smaller ones went to the feedlot."
Cattle are run on ryegrass and clover pastures, and the country is heavily fertilised.
"We're improving pastures constantly, but we have very cold winters so there's no pasture growth, which is why we make so much hay and silage," Kelvin said.
"Last year we made 1400 bales of silage and we strive to have two years of fodder ahead of us, feeding it out over winter."
Growing fodder has allowed them to keep the majority of their herd despite dry seasons. The family currently has 300 breeders, but they can run up to 350 in good seasons.
"We're self sufficient. Making all our own hay and silage has really helped the last couple of years. The cheapest feed you can have is what you grow yourself."