MARBLING is a high priority for Angus breeder Tim Sullivan, whose background as a meat exporter influences decisions in his 250-breeder Angus herd at Weandre, Molong.
He works in meat export for Endeavour Meats, exporting Angus and Wagyu beef, as well as lamb and veal thoughtout Asia and the US.
"I'm quite interested in yields, marbling and overall performance," Mr Sullivan said.
"Some farmers would have just sold cattle and that's the end of it, but meat marketing it's what I do for a living.
"We're exporting Angus beef with marble score 2+ and 3+ into seven Asian countries as well as the US, and you need the marbling and positive fats in the carcase."
Mr Sullivan has been using Choice Angus genetics for four years.
"Originally the herd goes back to Kennys Creek blood which we have been very happy with," he said.
"I've been buying some Kennys Creek bulls, but mainly Choice Angus bulls and what I've loved about the Choice bulls is the marbling.
"We've put some steers on feed that have gone into the Jack's Creek program, and we've got the data back to help in our decision making."
Using that knowledge in his breeding herd, Mr Sullivan is looking for fertility, good yield, positive fats and marbling when selecting genetics.
Mr Sullivan is retaining more heifers this year as he looks to build numbers, to about 250 to 300 breeders.
How the steers perform hanging up, with marbling and yield, is what I'm interested in.
He's been able to sell heifers into a range of markets over the past few years, including live export as weaners, and pregnancy tested in calf heifers that went to a Queensland breeder last year.
He likes being able to purchase yearling bulls through Choice Angus, which gives him early access to new genetics.
"We had yearling bulls with 250 heifers at Mount Gambier during the drought and had phenomenal results.
"I don't work them hard in the first year, they're in a smaller mob of cows to give them a run, but at 15 to 16 months we took them to Mount Gambier and they went well."
End of supply chain focus
Tim Sullivan is targeting the premium Jack's Creek branded Angus beef program with his steers.
"I have sold some over the hooks directly but largely, because of the drought in the past three years, they've been going to Jack's Creek who process them and export all around the world," he said.
"I was aiming for 400kg to 420kg during dry times, but they can be heavier in good years."
Pastures include phalaris, cocksfoot and clover, as well as oat crops.
Steers are usually on oats, and Mr Sullivan also has a strict weaning process to get them ready for supplement feeding.
He yard weans for two weeks on pellets which helps with rumen development, and handling helps with temperament.
Mr Sullivan said he hoped there could be more transparency in the industry, with data being delivered back to breeders to improve on-farm decisions.
"I think everybody should be looking to their consumer at the end of the supply chain," he said.
"For the lotfeeders to make money, they're judged by growth and performance with weight gains, but also carcase performance.
"How the steers perform hanging up, with marbling and yield, is what I'm interested in."