Stud owners ahead of the curve on planning

2nd August 2017 1:50 PM

STEVE Reid is the kind of farmer who isn't afraid of doing things a little differently.

The third-generation cattle farmer runs Talbalba Herefords and is finally set to offer an on-property bull sale for the first time in the stud's history.

But you can bet he would have put it off for another year if the offering wasn't up to scratch.

Fortunately he described the 55 bulls ready for sale as the best he'd ever had.

Not only were they all in good form, but they had the performance data to back it up.

He said that was partly due to changes in the feeding regime throughout the past seven or eight years, which had improved fertility, feet and legs in the herd.

 

Talbalba's Lot 26 (Polled) is the No 1 bull in Australia (2017) for breeding feeder steers , theoretically, with a Grainfed Steer Index of $181.
Talbalba's Lot 26 (Polled) is the No 1 bull in Australia (2017) for breeding feeder steers , theoretically, with a Grainfed Steer Index of $181. Contributed

In the past they used to supplement feed with grain rations, where these days they went out of their way to provide grass and oats year-round, which also produced a more resilient herd that could "ride the rollercoaster" of feed availability without losing too much condition.

"They will be in really good condition on sale day, but we'll have gone through the highs and lows and it allows the cream to really rise to the top," he said.

"It will only be bulls that can rise to the seasonal challenges.

"They're designed to perform on grass, so hopefully through these sorts of preparations, buyers can really see what will perform in their situation.

"It really culls out of these cattle the need for special treatment."

He said extensive testing had also proven that grass-fed cattle scored much better on fertility than those fed on grain rations, so even with the odd complication, it was a much better way of doing things.

And with a bull's only real job being the fertility game, it just made sense.

He said their extensive testing included Hereford Group Breedplan figures, a scientific tool cattle breeders use to compare data on cattle with other herds in the same breed using genetic links but taking out environmental factors such as feed.

The Reids measure weights, eye muscle area, fat, intramuscular fat, birthweight and other factors, which are then compared to other hereford cattle.

"Hereford Group Breedplan analyses this data and this is how we have the number one bull in Australia, theoretically, this year for breeding feeder steers.

"We also have the three top Retail Beef Yield bulls in Australia this year in Lots 14,15, and 16."

He said their main focus was a happy customer, so ensuring the bull could do its job to the best of its ability was paramount.

Steve and Deb Reid own Talbalba, a third-generation hereford stud.
Steve and Deb Reid own Talbalba, a third-generation hereford stud. Contributed

"The basis of our business is return clientele, so we try and produce an article that will give the buyer a good experience and keep them coming back," Mr Reid said.

"We've got our own way of doing things and this is something we've worked towards.

"Now we've done fertility and semen morphology tests and by not feeding grain, bulls tend to come through with better test results."

Plans for an on-property sale also meant putting in a new selling display complex and Mr Reid said they had tried to get in ahead of the curve with a novel design plan.

He said while there was no talk of it yet, he felt it was likely workplace health and safety laws down the track would mean changes to the way things were done.

Keeping in mind the facility could last decades, he set up the complex so there was no need to get in the pen with the bulls.

Steve Reid oversees the construction of his new selling display complex, which will be ready in time for Talbalba's first on-farm bull sale
Steve Reid oversees the construction of his new selling display complex, which will be ready in time for Talbalba's first on-farm bull sale Contributed

"We're designing a display complex where people can look at the cattle without entering the pens, so there is a laneway around every pen," he said.

"We're not stopping people from getting in the pens, but we wanted to give people the option to have a good look without entering the pen.

"They're pretty open pens with a top rail and six electric wires and they're about 13 metres by 13 metres."

He said all the on-farm changes were part of a learning curve that started back in his grandfather's day.

He said the only complication was that grass-fed cattle travelling long distances for sales often didn't look the way they wanted by the time they got to their destination.

The new selling display complex at Talbalba is designed so buyers can get up close to cattle without getting in the pen with them.
The new selling display complex at Talbalba is designed so buyers can get up close to cattle without getting in the pen with them. Contributed

Selling them on-farm was a natural solution.

"We've been selling bulls off-farm since the 1950s, starting with my grandfather, and we decided our genetics had got to a stage where we could do our own thing," Mr Reid said.

"We have them on grass for summer and oats to finish, but it's very difficult for them to travel to sales and look the way you want them to.

"It's a lot easier for cattle that are fed that way to be sold on farm."

The Talbalba Herefords inaugural on-farm sale will be held at the farm, 32km south of Millmerran on Nicol Creek Road, on September 13.

For further information or updates on the sale search for Talbalba Herefords on Facebook, visit talbalba.com or call 46957182.

Talbalba's Lot 3 (Horned) is known for good muscle, marbling and maternal traits.
Talbalba's Lot 3 (Horned) is known for good muscle, marbling and maternal traits. Contributed