Lee and Suzanne Young, "Dalyup" Coonabarabran, recently won a Meat Standards Australia award for Excellence in Eating quality.
These awards are issued to beef producers who consistently deliver carcases with superior eating quality. While genetics and animal management are important for quality meat production, Lee Young stresses that high quality pastures are especially important.
"Dalyup", with the original part of their property owned by the family for almost 50 years, is a 740ha property that includes good quality loamy river flats soil, plus medium to lighter acidic textured hill country. Quality pastures include lucerne on the flats, Premier digit and Consol lovegrass, together with serradella and sub clover on the arable hill country, and upgraded native pasture on the non-arable areas.
Lee and Suzanne Young were early pioneer growers of the legumes serradella and biserrula that comprise the winter component of their introduced and native grass pastures. These are especially valued for their acid soil tolerance, good productivity their bloat tolerance and for building soil nitrogen. Because of soil variability serradella and biserrula are grown in combination with sub clover with each species more dominant in specific areas of a paddock depending on soil type. For over 40 years they have remained persistent across native and tropical grass paddocks.
Six paddocks of tropical grasses Premier digit and Consol lovegrass, comprising 250 ha, have proven long term persistent, as well as supplying high quality feed for the Youngs' breeding and trading herds. These have been established following a cropping phase, mainly involving oats for winter feed, plus clean summer fallows, that largely allowed sowing into weed free conditions.
Lucerne is grown on the high fertility non-acidic alluvial flats. At any one time lucerne area is around 60ha. To reduce bloat risk in their lucerne paddocks stock water is via troughs so that bloat oils can be used successfully. Lee Young commonly uses lucerne to finish steers and heifers destined for market. These are generally sold around 500 to 550 kg/head.
Lee and Suzanne Young stress that to regularly sell animals that have rated so high in quality, high quality feed is essential and providing quality feed is totally dependent on good soil fertility. The light soil areas of their property was initially especially challenging, as not only was it acid through the profile, but also was inherently low in phosphorus and sulphur.
Over the last almost 50 years single superphosphate has been used, at around 100 kg/ha per application, to correct sulphur and phosphorus deficiency. Research supports that their approach to now apply around every three years, although more frequently in early days, results in a gradual build-up in these elements. Combined with suitable winter legumes soil nitrogen levels have also built up considerably.
Part of the year round feed supply story on "Dalyup" is around 60ha of oats. It is mainly sown early March, on reasonable sub soil moisture (via summer fallow weed control) and jointly commonly supplies winter feed plus prepares areas for pasture.
Pastures on "Dalyup" recovered quickly after the drought, mainly as a consequence of retaining a protective layer of pasture residue and flexible rotational grazing. Like most properties the 2017 to 2019 drought resulted in a reduction in cattle numbers. But the Young's are back to around their normal 120 cows plus run a flexible trading arm of 150 to 200 steers and heifers. These are purchased around 250kg and sold 500 to 550 kg, with at least an annual turnoff.
Lee Young considers they are conservative stockers and except for a drought like 2017-2019 have been able to maintain numbers year in year out. But like most people they did not replace traded animals until the drought broke and reduced cow numbers. With heifer retention and some purchases they quickly returned to full production.
The Young's animal genetics and animal management is another story. But Suzanne Young emphasises the importance of low animal stress management combined with high feed quality plus plenty of it.
Next week: Research overcoming Chickpea challenges.
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