With a focus on breeding functional sound females with marbling and moderate mature cow weights, Vince and Debbie Rhineberger from Box Range, Boorowa, have taken out champion herd of the Boorowa Commercial Cattle Competition.
Organised by the Boorowa Show Society on February 4, the event included nine producers within the region who opened their gates to welcome judges Justin and Amy Dickens, JAD Speckle Park, Yeoval along with a number of industry enthusiasts to inspect their herds.
On Lawson Angus bloodlines for the past 30 years, Mr and Mrs Rhineberger received best group of cows and calves, and second best pen of heifers, with the combination allowing them to with the overall top spot.
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The evenness and femininity of the females, along with the size of the cows relative to the size of their calves is what thrilled the judges, according to Mr Rhineberger.
"We are pretty hard on mature cow weight, and they thought we were kicking goals in that area," he said.
"Six-month-old calves and they are a large percentage of their mothers weight, so production-wise they are there. The calves would suit any market; killable as vealers or could go onto feedlots."
Mr Rhineberger said most of their steers go into feedlots, so good temperament, sound structure, intramuscular fat (IMF) and eye muscle area (EMA) are important.
"We look for around breed average birth, above average for 600-day weight and breed average for fat - we aren't chasing fat, we don't want them too fat," he said.
"We want a good, sound, functional herd, and temperament is high on the agenda which shone out this year with all our cattle in the competition in a small holding paddock and handling people walking through them really well."
The Rhineberger's operation includes 200 commercial cows and heifers, along with 100 stud cows, joined to calve this coming spring.
"The aim is to get to 120 commercial and 120 stud cows," he said. "We are a building through self-replacement so we are keeping all heifers," he said.
"Next year we will look at selling the older cows either PTIC [pregnancy-tested-in-calf] or calve them in the spring and sell them with calves at foot, depending on feed availability."
Before the drought, they sold all five-year-old cows with calves each November.
"It was working well, but then the drought hit and we culled empties and then older cows," he said. "We were able to keep young stock through the drought, so our herd is pretty young - we have a couple of K, M and N cows, but most are P and Q-drops or younger.
"The pleasing thing is the P and Q females were weaned at six weeks of age, and to look at them now with a calf at foot, it is amazing how they have grown despite doing it tough."
Two rounds of artificial insemination (AI) is used with the heifers and first-calf females, while bulls are put out with older cows. Normally calves are weaned in March at five months of age year in, year out, no matter what the season is doing.
"They are yard weaned for a month on pellets and hay so they are well weaned and set up for the future," he said.
"We sow crops at the end of February, and if we get a break in the middle of April we are well set."
Steers are sold to feedlots, with a recent loads purchased last year by Rangers Valley Feedlot, Glen Innes.
"Steers sent to the feedlot recently at 12 months averaged 440 kilograms," he said.
"They were scanned for marbling and EMA, prior to selling, at the same time we did the bulls and stud calves.
"The steers averaged six per cent marbling off grass, and the EMA was well up there too. It says to me their sisters being retained within the herd have the marbling and EMA potential."
Commenting he doesn't go into the competition to win, Mr Rhineberger said he chooses to continually enter to support the Boorowa Show Society and promote the beef industry in the area.
"It is a pretty strong sheep industry, and always has been, but there are some really good cattle herds, and we need to be promoting that," he said.
The best pen of heifers was a group of Herefords from Mick Corkhill, Tarengo, Boorowa, while the encouragement award went to the Angus herd from Dane and Lisa Rowley, Corcoran's Plains, Boorowa.
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