High prices spur change for EU producer
High cattle prices were once only given for premiums like EU, changing the management of many producer’s operations.
THE current cattle market trend of high prices that was once only seen as a premium for select markets, like EU, has changed the management of many producer’s operations.
Durong beef producer and grain grower Philip Coe is one of them.
Mr Coe and his family operate a 4000 hectare property, Coo-ee, just north of Durong, where they currently run a breeder herd of Simmental/Droughtmaster and Simmental/Santa cross Angus.
Five or six years ago Mr Coe finished all his cattle, but with the recent market switch towards profitability in younger cattle, he too changed his focus and now sells his cattle direct to feedlots between 400 to 500kg.
“We are EU accredited and that gave us a little bit of a premium over the years but recent times, since the cattle market jumped, that premium hasn't been quite as big a difference,” he said.
“So you just look at other options of what you do and we have just found that we grow cattle from weaning through to EU weights and sell them to feedlots.
“We have been getting some good money for some lighter ones, around 350kg to 400kg, so I keep my options open. I’m not stuck in any one market.”
Like many EU suppliers, meeting breed quality demands has been the biggest challenge.
The property originally ran a Simmental/Hereford herd crossed with Angus, but the Coes found the carcass laid down fat too quickly.
“We tried Simmental to help that and that worked but then they weren’t hardy enough in the dry seasons so we bought some more country and bought a heap of breeders with it and they were Droughtmasters,” Mr Coe said.
Despite their satisfaction with the cross, demand wasn’t there from the buyers so they incorporated Santa and have been turning off the F2-cross ever since.
Their cattle are assisted with 270 hectares of Leucaena planted about 12 years ago.
Previously, the family had planted Lucerne/Rhodes grass pastures but increased their daily average weight gain on Leaucaena throughout the year by 250 gram in cattle body weight.
Cropping is an equally important part of the Coe family’s operation at Durong.
Empty cull cows are fed silage of a bi-product of their forage seed production, which is grown for major companies.
“In the pollination process you have the male pollinating rows that are left over that don’t get harvest so that’s what we cut for silage,” Mr Coe said.
Sorghum and Mungbeans are their crop of choice in summer with Mungbeans making it easier to control feather top Rhodes grass especially being zero till. Wheat is planted in winter.
With the Coe family one of the few major growers in the area, they were an easy target for pigs and self-funded 30km of fencing about six years ago.
“Because we were growing sorghum they would just come in and wipe out hundreds of acres of it just over night,” he said.
“We started with electric fencing but it’s not perfect so we have been moving in to mesh fencing.
“I did a baiting program like 10 years ago when they started getting bad and I think the first 18 months I cleared 2000 pigs and the first night I did it I got 500 because I buried and I counted them, so I knew I had a problem.
“We are all used to droughts and dry periods and that but I think you get these other external factors like feral pigs thrown into it, it just makes things so much harder and if you can do something about it you do.”