SHORTHORNS have been part of the landscape at Tareela, Burren Junction, since 1898, and the Marshall family are continuing to breed high quality cattle, focusing on fertility, calving ease and growth rates.
Philip, Coral and Alastair Marshall usually run about 100 breeders and dropped numbers to 60 during the drought but they've started rebuilding their herd with the improved season this year.
The maternal attributes of the Shorthorn breed, such as milk and temperament are particularly important to the family and, ,until recently, cows from the commercial herd were used as milkers.
The Marshalls have been using genetics from the Manchee family's Yamburgan stud at Narrabri since 1992, when John Manchee's father Lionel had the stud.
"We wanted to improve our herd's fertility, ease of calving and growth for age, and the Yamburgan bulls have done that," Mrs Marshall said.
The Marshalls handfed cattle through three-and-a-half years of drought, but the cattle held on well, and they were careful to maximise joining percentages by providing breeders with enough feed.
They're also very strict on the cows, requiring all breeders to raise a good quality calf every year, and have very few issues with calving.
"We have emerged from the drought with a herd covering all the qualities we have been striving for," Mrs Marshall said.
"We only keep the best heifers, because they've got to meet strict criteria.
"When I'm classing I look at records on the mother, grandmother and great grandmother and if there has been any trouble with calving, or any other issues, we don't keep that heifer."
Mrs Marshall also maintains similar records for the family's 3000 Merino ewes, which ensures that every animal on the property is productive.
"The harder the climate, the stricter you need to be with classing. If they don't get in calf or raise a calf sensibly, they go."
The single sire joinings in the Shorthorn herd also allows her to track the performance of each sire.
The Marshalls have two bulls, Yamburgan Zeus L175 and Yamburgan Normandy K232. Selecting for growth is paying off, with the family able to meet a range of markets. Prior to the drought their steers were sold to an organic market, but with limited organic feed, they changed their focus and produced feeder steers.
"They went at a younger age which suited us during the drought, however, this year's steers we'll grow out to about 500 kilograms. This year our mixed sex calves averaged 420kg at 11 and 12 months, putting on over 1kg a day on natural pasture."