The Land

Profitability the priority at Glenavon Angus

Extensive benchmarking has underpinned decisions at Glenavon, where stud principal Richard Post runs stud and commercial herds of Angus cattle. Picture supplied
Extensive benchmarking has underpinned decisions at Glenavon, where stud principal Richard Post runs stud and commercial herds of Angus cattle. Picture supplied

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STEADFAST dedication to quality, innovation and structural excellence allows the Post family at Glenavon to produce genetics that deliver a modern, balanced, high performance animal, specifically focused on commercial profitability.

Glenavon is run by principals Richard and Prue Post, at Outer Bald Blair, Guyra, with a stud herd of 500 females run alongside a large commercial Angus herd and a prime lamb enterprise.

Prue is a descendant of the White family, who imported Angus cattle from Scotland in 1888 which led to the establishment of some of the country's most respected breeding programs.

Glenavon began in 1949, when the Angus stud at Bald Blair was split between FJ White's two sons, HF White and FF White, with FF White's children, FG White and PM Bell (White) taking on their share of the stud at Outer Bald Blair.

Three generations of cattle breeders. Fred Bell, Richard and Prue Post and their children Poppy, Elsie and Freddie. Picture supplied
Three generations of cattle breeders. Fred Bell, Richard and Prue Post and their children Poppy, Elsie and Freddie. Picture supplied

Prue's parents, Fred and Janet Bell, grew the stud significantly from 1969 to 2016, with the first on property bull sale held 40 years ago.

Mr Bell's foresight to visit and import US genetics in the 1980s drove an expansion in the overall operation in the following decades as the breed evolved into the powerhouse it is today.

Current principal Richard Post travels extensively both domestically and the US inspecting potential new genetics to use in the program.

The Posts took over management and ownership of the Glenavon herd following a well-executed succession plan involving Mrs Post's three sisters in 2016.

They have fully embraced a modern, innovative approach, embracing technology in their genetic selection process, with extensive artificial insemination, IVF and embryo transfer work carried out annually.

Decision making on farm is also driven by pasture budgeting, which is essential given the operation pushes a high stocking rate, so cattle must perform to remain in the herd.

Females are joined for six weeks, with no second chances and animals are continually classed for structure, including sale bulls and stud females, independently by Dick Whale, with an eye firmly on longevity of bulls and stayability of females.

Donor cows are selected on stayability and calf history.

In breeding cattle and genetic selection, structure is always the first priority, something Mr Bell instilled in the team.

Glenavon is fastidious in its data collection and discipline in using it to make informed genetic decisions.

The commercial herd of 700 breeders plays a vital role in using Glenavon's stud genetics, with yearling bulls used extensively in the joining program. Picture supplied, Anna Kemph Photography
The commercial herd of 700 breeders plays a vital role in using Glenavon's stud genetics, with yearling bulls used extensively in the joining program. Picture supplied, Anna Kemph Photography

All stud animals are weighed at birth and then DNA sampled and genomically tested at weaning.

In recent years the stud has selected for early growth but not at the cost of an excessive cow.

"We've been able to reduce the mature cow weight, while improving weaning and 400-day growth rates," Mrs Post said.

"This has delivered a more efficient animal, with improved fertility and a lower cost of production in our herd."

Benchmarking has underpinned powerful business decisions.

"In recent years we have reduced our prime lamb numbers and grown our commercial herd because our benchmarking data over many years shows the returns of our commercial beef enterprise far exceed that of prime lamb," Mrs Post said.

"This is largely driven by the performance of our commercial cattle to deliver a low cost of production."

The Glenavon team. Richard and Prue Post with staff members Dan McLennan, Cody Clarke and Anna Kemph. Picture supplied
The Glenavon team. Richard and Prue Post with staff members Dan McLennan, Cody Clarke and Anna Kemph. Picture supplied

The commercial herd of 700 breeders plays a vital role in using Glenavon's stud genetics, with yearling bulls used extensively in the joining program.

Surplus yearling heifers are offered at the annual bull sale on the first Monday in August each year, and steers are typically grown out to feeder weights, to drive their kilograms of beef per hectare production targets that drive a low cost of production.

"We have a real passion for breeding quiet cattle that thrive in a commercial enterprise, under stocking rate pressure, allowing us to prove our stud genetics on a commercial level."

Bull longevity data is collected and some powerful insights have emerged in the past five years as the Glenavon program has scaled up its commercial herd and moved to joining in larger mobs with teams of bulls.

The Posts have worked hard to minimise bull breakdowns, with breakdowns during joining falling to 7 per cent in the most recent six-week spring joining. Picture supplied, Anna Kemph Photography
The Posts have worked hard to minimise bull breakdowns, with breakdowns during joining falling to 7 per cent in the most recent six-week spring joining. Picture supplied, Anna Kemph Photography

Bull breakdowns during joining have fallen to as low as 7 per cent in their most recent six-week spring joining.

Pregnancy test rates on more than 92pc were achieved for both cows and heifers despite the tough season.

"The single biggest driver of this low bull breakdown rate has been management," Mrs Post said.

"By pulling dominant bulls out after three weeks, when 60pc of females are pregnant, we avoid breakdowns from overuse.

"These bulls make a near full recovery within weeks, and leaving a 2pc bull ratio of females that are left to be served, is more than sufficient for the last cycle.

"This adjustment near eliminates bull injuries in the final weeks of joining."

Richard Post with Glenavon heifers. Temperament is paramount for the Guyra-based stud. Picture supplied, Anna Kemph Photography
Richard Post with Glenavon heifers. Temperament is paramount for the Guyra-based stud. Picture supplied, Anna Kemph Photography

As illustrated at the Glenavon workshop held in May, bull longevity drives a low calf cost and an operation's profitability, not the price paid for the bull.

More than 130 beef breeders attended the pioneering event put together by the Glenavon team, where the crowd heard from presentations backed with proprietary data from John Francis of Agrista, Dick Whale from IBMS, Scott Wright of Angus Australia and Mr Post.

"Glenavon's promise is to provide highly fertile, functional and profitable genetics to our clients in an environment where their people, animals and land thrive."

Richard and Prue Post with their children Poppy, Elsie and Freddie at Outer Bald Blair, Guyra. Picture supplied, Anna Kemph Photography
Richard and Prue Post with their children Poppy, Elsie and Freddie at Outer Bald Blair, Guyra. Picture supplied, Anna Kemph Photography

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