Easy doing, moderate cattle

Producing easy doing, moderate Angus cattle at Goulburn

Beef
FUNCTIONAL FEMALES: Austin McLennan with some of his young heifers. He's breeding moderate, easy doing cattle at Connen Hill, Goulburn.

FUNCTIONAL FEMALES: Austin McLennan with some of his young heifers. He's breeding moderate, easy doing cattle at Connen Hill, Goulburn.

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Easy doing, functional cattle are allowing Austin McLennan to meet a range of markets.

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EASY doing, functional cattle are allowing Austin McLennan to meet a range of markets, depending on the season and feed availability at Connen Hill, Goulburn.

The McLennan family has bred Angus cattle for about 25 years, using Hazeldean genetics since 2014.

Mr McLennan joins 200 breeders, calving down 160 each year and selling older cows as pregnancy tested in calf or into the fat market.

"The scale of the Hazeldean operation attracted us and our breeding objectives are aligned," he said.

"They breed easy doing, moderate cattle that are suitable for either the weaner, feeder or fat markets - whatever the season brings.

"I'm not looking to breed big framed cows, but moderate cattle that join up every year, and don't need a heap of feed to get through the winter. Hazeldean cattle certainly tick those boxes."

The Angus operation is a side business to Mr McLennan's 5000 Merino and first-cross ewes, so they have to be low maintenance and docile.

Hazeldean has a high percentage of bulls suitable to go over heifers and have no issues. Those genetics are flowing through the herd, and in the long-term we're breeding cattle that are low maintenance during calving. - Angus breeder Austin McLennan, Connen Hill, Goulburn

"We feed over the winter months, but they don't get looked after as well as our sheep."

As he's rebuilding the herd following drought, Mr McLennan will join all heifers this year, then cull as needed after calving.

"Hazeldean has a high percentage of bulls suitable to go over heifers and have no issues.

"Those genetics are flowing through the herd, and in the long-term we're breeding cattle that are low maintenance during calving."

Calving ease is one of the traits Mr MrLennan focuses on, along with 200 and 400-day weight, intramuscular fat and mature cow weight.

"There's a big creep at the moment in the industry where cows keep getting bigger, but they're not efficient animals," he said.

"Hazeldean has had a big focus on keeping cows at a moderate size over the last few years.

"They also provide an independent structure score in their catalogue which makes it easier to select on structure."

Making sure he has efficient breeders is key to the operation, which targets a range of markets, depending on feed reserves.

The past two drops have been sold as weaners.

"We didn't have any rain until mid February, so we made the decision to sell them early," Mr McLennan said.

"We kept the heifers and sold 100 steers on AuctionsPlus for 530c/kg to a backgrounder in Victoria. I've got no doubt that being sired by Hazeldean bulls made a difference in the sale."

Steers are generally finished on crop, which fits in with the rest of the business.

"We calve from early July and they're weaned in March onto an early oat crop and once that's grazed they'll be on grazing wheat until the end of August or early September, when they're sold."

In a good season, steers will meet feeder weights, between 400kg and 500kg.

In previous years they've gone to Killara Feedlot at Quirindi, and JBS and Teys feedlots in the Riverina.

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