A different management approach is paying off for the Carrigan family at Bow Forest, Merriwa, who run bulls year round to balance out feed requirements.
Paddy Carrigan and his family run about 330 cows on their 1800-hectare property and in most seasons will sell the progeny to the fat market.
"If the season's particularly good we'll trade a few steers and if it's a bit tough we'll sell stock on AuctionsPlus," he said.
Mr Carrigan and his daughter Neece won several awards at this years' Woolworths Feedlot Trial competition, including the reserve champion pen for the hook component.
Mr Carrigan said his steers ranged from Limousin/Shorthorn crosses, straight Shorthorns through to Shorthorn/Hereford crosses.
They were selected from about 90 calves at the time, he said.
"Because we're trying to work out what's the best cross, we went from majority Limousin right back through to Shorthorn/Hereford cross and then put all the others in between," he said.
"We're trying to work out how we can get our results and get them back to the animal.
"We're not using a competition for competition's sake, we're there to improve our herd."
He had always favoured crossbred cattle for their hybrid vigour.
The operation also ran bulls all year, and although he acknowledged it created more work in terms of having to conduct multiple markings, it balanced out feed requirements.
It also ensured the good country wasn't wasted by overfattening dry cows, he said.
"If you've got a block of the same size calves, that's great if you're a weaner seller or something like that," he said.
"But our aim is to fatten all that we produce. If you have them all come on at once and you happen to have a dry spell at that stage then you're in strife.
"We try and keep going through the whole year with something to sell.
"We've been able to fatten those in a pretty dry time, whereas if we'd had them all calve at the one time we'd have had 300 calves - what do I do with them all?
"We're big enough that we can generally get a trailer of calves that are saleable."
Mr Carrigan said his son Jack ran the cropping side of the business. This season they had about 800 hectares of mixed crops but this would be tailored each year depending on the season.
The operation included up to 320 hectares of fodder crops, which in a good season would be locked up and sold.
"If cropping looks good next year we'll probably back off on cattle numbers. We try to accentuate where the best fit is for what we can grow," he said.
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