USING Clunie Range Angus genetics is allowing John Carpenter to finish his crossbred calves and meet supermarket specifications off grass.
Mr Carpenter has been breeding Angus/Santa Gertrudis-cross cattle at Carnegie, Niangala, NSW, for about 18 years.
He chose that cross not only for the exceptional hybrid vigour, but a boost in fertility, longevity and survivability, Mr Carpenter said.
"Everybody wants Angus but in our cattle we needed a breed that would walk the hills and forage, so that drew us to the Santa breed," he said.
"We wanted the extra size, the frame in the Santas, and the slick coat, then on the Angus side, the eating quality and polled gene."
Clunie Range bulls are used extensively because the stud's principal, Brett Guest, understood what the market required, Mr Carpenter said.
Mr Carpenter has been buying Clunie Range bulls since 2006.
"Brett's a very a good cattle breeder and he knows what the customer wants, because he's worked in the industry, and understands the export and the domestic business very well. He's given a great deal of thought to the marketing side. It's not just about growth or weight, but it has to be high quality meat. Clunie Range cattle are structurally sound, docile and they don't have any problem serving cows."
Structure is a main priority when selecting bulls, along with temperament, scrotal size and 400-day weight.
"Structural integrity is important, especially up here with the hills and the rocks," Mr Carpenter said.
"It's a very athletic job we're asking these bulls to do, serving 50 females in the hills in -2 degrees. I also look for positive rib fat because that's an indicator of the ability to finish early and it seems to be a predictor of female fertility."
Clunie Range cattle are structurally sound, docile and they don't have any problem serving cows.
Mr Carpenter's breeding objective is to produce cattle that can meet supermarket specifications off grass, no later than 22 months of age, but the goal is 15 to 16 months, around 600 kilograms. The best heifers are retained and the rest are finished to feeder or supermarket weights, but during drought the calves were sold as weaners.
His 2019-drop calves reached $1420 a head, with the steers taking out champion pen at the 2020 Virbac Weaner Challenge, held as part of the annual weaner feature sale at Tamworth in March.
Mr Carpenter is gradually rebuilding the herd, which is now around 400 cows, a reduction of 48 per cent in the cows and 70pc in heifers. In the best seasons at Carnegie, he was running 1100 cows, but he's more realistic about his stocking rates following the past three years of drought.
Cattle are run on traditional Northern Tablelands pastures, based on fescues and white clover.
"We super every year and and spread 1000kg of clover seed every second year. We kept spreading super through the drought because the country responds well to it."