Yarram Park Hereford stud manager Jeremy Upton and cattle manager Mick Peterson, at the stud's Willaura property.

Reaping benefits of positive season at Yarram Park

IT’S BEEN one of the best seasons Yarram Park Hereford stud manager Jeremy Upton has seen in his 28 years of farming in the western district, and the herd is looking as good as ever because of it.

Mr Upton said a positive season allows the herd to capitalise on its genetics, and reach its full potential.

“The season’s been wonderful for all of our stock to be born into, and it’s just given them the ability to grow out to their fullest potential,” Mr Upton said.

“Their ability to grow out is hugely dependent on the season, and we’re a grassfed operation, so they have to be able to perform on grass.”

This follows two difficult, dry seasons that the Willaura-based stud faced in 2014 and 2015.

But Mr Upton, who runs the operation with six other full-time staff, and farm owners Anthony and Sybil Baillieu, said one of the benefits to Hereford cattle is their ability to bounce back after tough seasons.

He said the bulls that will be offered at this year’s annual on-property sale will have reaped the benefits of last year’s fantastic season.

“We’re thrilled with how they have progressed, they have had a wonderful season in front of them since birth, so they have had every opportunity to express their genetics and reach their full potential,” he said.

The Hereford stud was established by Anthony’s father John Baillieu in 1948, and was originally based on genetics from the United Kingdom.

“Then there was a strong period in the late 1980s and early 1990s, where a lot of Canadian genetics were imported into the stud, and this continued right throughout the 90s,” Mr Upton said.

“John Baillieu was one of the first people to bring Canadian genetics to Australia, and he also imported two live bulls, and they had a profound impact on the stud, giving it a great lift in production and growth genetics.”

He said in recent times, they have moved away from Canadian genetics.

“We’d made the most of those genetics, and moved into using more genetics from within Australia, as well as some from the United States, but predominantly Australian bloodlines,” he said.

The stud is aiming to breed cattle that are suited to its commercial clients’ needs.

“We’re aiming to produce a very even, well-balanced line of cattle that have got the ability to fit into a number of markets, depending on the season,” he said.

“I think the majority of studs have become a lot more commercially-focused in recent years, because at the end of the day, that’s who you’re trying to service.

“We do aim to sell a couple of stud animals to some other studs out there every year, but our main focus is the commercial industry and providing strong genetics for them.”

He said the type of cattle that commercial buyers are after has changed in recent years.

“There was a stage in the 90s where people were selecting and breeding larger-framed cattle, but they found in difficult seasons these cattle were much harder to finish, so in the last five to 10 years, people have been more conscious of breeding a slightly smaller-framed animal with good constitution, exhibiting strong carcase attributes, and excellent retail meat qualities,” he said.

“The use of carcase data and objective measurements are big tools that have come into the industry, that have helped enormously in improving meat quality.”

However he said visual assessment is the first point-of-call.

“We visually assess and class every stud animal every year, so structure, conformation and quality are of the utmost importance,” he said.

“Then we blend all of that with our objective measurements, and use that to select our animals.”

Yarram Park has participated in Stock & Land Beef Week ever since the event’s inception, and said it has been a great avenue to publicise the stud.

“It’s a wonderful platform to promote your cattle, it gives people a really good opportunity to view your stud and the whole operation, and get a good understanding of your program and objectives,” he said.

“We put a large number of cattle out on display on the day, all the sale bulls and a big run of stud cows and replacement heifers.

“We believe it’s really important to display the heifers, as they’re a critical part of your operation going forward, and they showcase the future direction of your breeding program.”

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