Yield from coastal grass

Euro over British returns kilos in grass fed coastal enterprise

Peter Hannigan, Numulgi via Lismore, has returned to breeding because trading didn't always deliver the yield outcome he wanted.

Peter Hannigan, Numulgi via Lismore, has returned to breeding because trading didn't always deliver the yield outcome he wanted.

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A strong line of Charolais/Angus delivers better yield on coastal grass

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Efficient Angus cows that show fertility, milk and good conformation are the backbone of Peter and Libby Hannigan's beef operation at Numulgi, via Lismore, while European bulls deliver yield and weight.

"Cattle have got to look the part," says Mr Hannigan, who is making a return to breeding, choosing Ascot and Palgrove Charolais over his 500 Angus and Angus/Hereford cows with the aim of presenting lines of cattle for the feedlot or grass finishers.

Meanwhile the enterprise continues to build a portfolio of females, chosen from the Hunter and Tamworth districts which are put to the bull and sold annually with calf at foot, or in calf.

Other heifers are grown out and sold as feeder heifers around 300kg, as buyers are looking for performance calves that don't need to be backgrounded on crop - especially heifers.

Mr Hannigan has built a business selling these lines and prides himself on presentation, always putting European breeds over British matrons.

Limousin featured for many years, using bulls from Grant Sheddon at Casino and Peter McCallum at Scone.

Charolais blood now dominates the program, with suitable low birthweight bulls helping to produce calves small as a dog that grow out to present on grass as if they'd been supplemented on grain.

Heavy weaner steers have a bright future in spite of recent panic over a virus.

Heavy weaner steers have a bright future in spite of recent panic over a virus.

Angus and Angus/Hereford cows are preferred for their fertility, efficiency on tropical pasture that can be well washed by rain, although the Hannigan's country is volcanic.

"They give us a weaner every year regardless."

"Cattle have got to look the part," he said. "They need to have conformation, a good head, be of a good type. with a good muzzle.

"I need to present a uniform beast. If I don't like looking at it in the paddock no one else will. So I cull heavily. I believe there is a premium for runs of cattle."

All breeders are treated for "everything" as the subtropics love to provide a parasite. This wet summer has brought three day sickness and plenty of buffalo fly.

Ticks have always been part of the management equation, and cattle are dipped on farm six times a year starting in September and avoiding the coldest days of winter. They also get drenched in August and April for fluke and worms.

Weaners are supplementary fed, but not the cows except in seasons like the last.

"You just have to hang in there through the good and bad times. We're in it for the long haul."

Last year's drought tested the operation in the normally lush valleys north of Lismore with February 2019 burning off kikuyu unlike anyone had seen, forcing cows onto hay and molasses mix.

"The cattle held on well through the drought. I fed them early and the cattle held on do to supplement fed.

Bright future

The future of beef that yields well remains bright for Australian producers in spite of coronovirus concerns that have caused a multitude of export market jitters.

For Numulgi beef producer Peter Hannigan, he remains confident this problem is one that will be resolved in the short term.

"People have got to eat," he says. "There is a shortage of heavy cattle being finished over the next six to eight weeks.

"Producers are right now planting oats and will be feeding them off from the end of April. By the time cattle are ready it will by July, August and hopefully by then the virus scare will be over.

"Agriculture on the land will probably hold Australia together through this coronavirus emergency and it will inject a lot more cash flow into all the little towns."

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