Consistent quiet cattle pay off

Meat & Livestock Australia | 28th November 2017

After sharing his tips on lamb marketing two weeks ago, Tasmanian producer Stephen Creese explains how turning off large lines of quiet cattle have secured him a happy customer

Top take outs:

  • Cattle must be quiet and well-handled so buyers can walk through them calmly in the yards
  • Build good relationships with buyers and supply what they want
  • Be reliable and consistent

Being a reliable supplier of quality, quiet cattle that meet market specifications goes a long way to ensuring long term success in the beef market, according to Tasmania’s Stephen Creese.

The Tomahawk producer turns off up to 450 Angus steers annually to the Japanese-owned Tasmania Feedlot at Powranna and believes being able to produce quiet, fast growing cattle is essential to forming a strong, long term relationships with customers.

“There’s no money in wild cattle,” Stephen said.

“Buyers must be able to walk through the yard and the stock move quietly around them.”

Stephen, who is also Managing Director of Clovelly Tasmania, runs 1,100 Angus breeders within a dual enterprise that also turns off prime lambs for the supermarket trade and export.

“The ideal steer for me is medium-framed, fast growing with a good temperament,” he said.

“We use primarily Landfall genetics but we believe how you handle them and their quality of nutrition has more of an impact on how they perform.

“We retain some heifers for replacements but most of the weaners will go to the feedlot at 420-450kg live weight and anything that’s above that will go to Greenhams or JBS Swift.

“We’ve been supplying the feedlot for 15 years and probably sell about half the weaners on forward contract and the rest are sold ‘on spec’ (as they become ready) over a 12-week period.

“I don’t hold them any longer than that as we have to preserve pastures for our spring lambs.”

Quality and quantity

Stephen said their marketing edge is being able to supply large lines of vendor-bred Angus cattle that comply with several market assurance programs such as Greenham’s Pure Black Natural and JBS Swift’s Farm Assured (Silver).

“In Tasmania, beef producers mostly either breed and sell off their weaners or buy in stock and fatten, there are not many producers who do both and can offer genuine vendor bred animals with lifetime traceability and a real story of provenance,” he said.

“We’ve also been dealing with Tasmanian Feedlot for a long time, they know what they’re getting and trust the product.”

Room to grow

Tomahawk’s soft, coastal climate is a bonus, helping to keep production costs low.

Their spring-drop calves (born over a 10-week period) are yard weaned in March-April for three days and then put in weaning paddocks.

“We don’t supplementary feed them unless it’s a tough winter and we rely on our improved pastures to add the kilograms in spring,” Stephen said.

In winter they gain about 0.75kg/head/day and in spring 3kg/head/day on fescue, ryegrass, cocksfoot and clovers.

Looking ahead, Stephen is considering the balance of his beef and prime lamb enterprises and looking at how to improve profitability while keeping the workload in check.

“If we were to change anything, we would focus more on breeding, lifting our cow numbers and producing more weaners as this is excellent cattle breeding country,” he said.

“This would also free-up more pastures for prime lambs which are more profitable but again more work so we’d have to consider balance carefully.”