No black marks on this cross

Cindy and Rob Fitzgerald get best out of Angus and Shorthorn cross cattle

SHINING LIGHT: Yearlings produced by Cindy and Rob Fitzgerald and sired by Noonee Angus bulls are grazing oats and putting on weight well this season.

SHINING LIGHT: Yearlings produced by Cindy and Rob Fitzgerald and sired by Noonee Angus bulls are grazing oats and putting on weight well this season.

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Angus and Shorthorn genetic cross paying dividends for drought-affected growers.

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It may be the tagline used by their stud, but producing "Practical cattle for profitable performance" is a concept that particularly resonates with beef producers Rob and Cindy Fitzgerald this year.

Like many farmers in the 525 millimetre rainfall zone around Mullaley, on the Liverpool Plains, the pair has been dealing with severe and prolonged drought conditions in the past three years.

This led to selling-off cows as the seasons continued to deteriorate and resulted in the Fitzgeralds only retaining their youngest cows and heifers as breeders.

Being in the cattle business for the past 45 years, the pair has always aimed to buy the best bulls possible - in a commercial price range - to improve their breeding herd.

This consists of Shorthorns and now some first cross Angus-Shorthorn cows, which are run on their Guyra country.

They strive to produce functional, sound and 'easy-doing' cattle that will reach heavy weights quickly and first purchased Noonee Angus stud bulls in 2012, selecting two low birth weight EBV bulls suitable to join to heifers for an easier calving.

YOUNG BLOOD: Calving heifers sired by Noonee N7089 at the Fitzgerald property on the Liverpool Plains.

YOUNG BLOOD: Calving heifers sired by Noonee N7089 at the Fitzgerald property on the Liverpool Plains.

Mrs Fitzgerald said they had been pleased with the results and have continued to purchase bulls from the stud with low birth weight and calving ease EBVs to join to maiden heifers.

"We are getting great calves from this cross and have retained some females for breeding, as these are a really good cross and make for excellent commercial cows," she said.

Mrs Fitzgerald said their cattle were sold into several markets, depending on the seasons and prices, including saleyards, AuctionsPlus, feedlots or to grassfed buyers.

She said calving occurred in July-August and steers and heifers were sold as weaners, or grown-out on oats and pasture to reach 600 kilograms or heavier by an age of 16-17 months.

Noonee Angus bulls are sold at an age of 15-months, which is ideal for the Fitzgeralds - who use them to join to maiden heifers

Mrs Fitzgerald said targeted breeding traits for their herd were growth, easy calving and Breedplan 600 Day Growth, Calving Ease and Birth Weight EBVs.

"We want stock that have a low management intensity, high survival rates and no need for pulling calves," she said.

"We aim to run a practical cattle herd that meets our market specifications and is profitable. We want to be able to take advantage of any selling opportunities that will give us the best returns."

The Fitzgeralds' goal is to deliver a top quality grassfed product and regularly receive feedback that their Angus-Shorthorn cross steers meet Meat Standards Australia (MSA) grid specifications.

"This cross of Angus and Shorthorn genetics provides very good breeders, that deliver vigorous calves that do well on pastures, grow fast and produce great tasting beef," Mrs Fitzgerald said.

"The Noonee Angus bulls are sold younger than most stud offerings, which provides us with a faster return on the investment, and are slightly above the average frame size of many Angus bulls.

"The appeal to us is that the stud has continued to improve over the years and has put more emphasis on muscle and higher growth rates, while retaining an emphasis on fertility, temperament and structure.

"These traits are the cornerstones of a productive commercial cow herd such as the one we are operating here."

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