•  Angus-cross brings hefty gains at Banchory Station

    Banchory Station, near Clermont in the Central Highlands of Northern Queensland, has been using Hazeldean Angus bulls for several years now and are benefiting from improved fertiltiy and a significant lift in carcase quality.

    This story courtesy The Land, June 25th 2012


    More weight-for -age, better meat quality and improved profit margins are just some of the reasons – albeit rather important ones – that Queensland’s Banchory Grazing has made Angus a big part of its operation.

     

    Owned by Philip and Adele Hughes and managed by Clint and Sharon Fletcher, the property “Banchory” is 60 kilometres west of Clermont in Queenslands Central Highlands.

     

     

    Hazeldean Bull at work at Banchory Station - May 2012

     

  • With 16,000 hectares, they run a 3500 head breeding herd based on Brahmans and Brahman-cross, as the Bos Indicus blood is needed to cope with the ticks and buffalo fly, as well as lice outbreaks in winter.

    Mr. Fletcher said the property was sub-divided into paddocks of 607ha to 809ha for rotational grazing with mobs of 300 head.

    The pastures consist of buffel grass and stylo, with a large amount of kangaroo, spear and Mitchell grass as well, which suits their summer dominant 620-mm a year average rainfall.

    The mobs are rotated so each paddock gets at least a three-month rest, particularly in the wet season.

    “We’ve always got grass,” Mr. Fletcher said. Banchory Grazing targets the domestic market through its own brand Rangeland Quality Meats and the supermarket trade through Coles, with any surplus cattle sold through to Roma saleyards.

    To ensure quality in the end product, the cattle are custom fed for 40 to 60 days, having entered the feedlot at 340 to 380 kilograms, with the age varying with the season.

    “Last year we were pulling weaned calves off at six months old and 300kg,” Mr. Fletcher said. The target for the finished animal was 400kg to 440kg to yield a 240kg carcase.

    “They’re doing that at about 16 months of age,” he said.

    Angus bulls were introduced to the program in about 2004-05.  The breed was chosen for its early maturity, ability to produce polled calves, high fertility, good marbling and for hybrid vigour.

    “The meat is all MSA(Meat Standards Australia) graded and going into an average boning group of 3 to 7,” Mr. Fletcher said.

    Mr. Fletcher said they targeted 6mm to 10mm of fat at 14 to 16 months of age and the Angus breed, being early maturers, achieved this easily.

    Some of the biggest gains, however, were seen in the yards when the calves were weighed at weaning.

    He said in mobs where they had run Angus-cross calves with Brahman-sired calves, they were seeing an extra 40kg on the Angus-sired calves.

    “It’s very hard to put on an extra 40kg in the feedlot – it cost you a lot of money,” he said.

    He said there was also a price advantage from the black calves of about 10 cents a kilogram (calves which didn’t make the branded produce grade) when they sold through the Roma saleyards.

    They were just starting to retain the first of the Angus-cross females as breeders as well, which they found had retained the sleek Brahman coat and ability to handle the tropical conditions.

    Mr. Fletcher said the first of these females had also just begun to calve and their fertility had so far been impressive, with heifers cycling at 280kg to 320kg. The bulls went in at about a 3 per cent joining rate and were run with the cows all year. The Angus-cross calves had plenty of “get-up and go” and through selecting low birth weight sires, they found the calves came out small and then grew like steam, as well as being docile and easy to handle.

    The  Angus did add some marbling potential to the crossbred calves, which was important as they were finished at an early age and so didn’t get a great opportunity to develop  intramuscular fat.

    And while the Angus bulls didn’t reach their growth potential in the tropical country, Mr. Fletcher said it was more about the quality  of calves they produced.

    “You’ve only got to look at what they produced and you understand why we use them”.

    Proof in the eating - Rangelands Quality Meats

    The best sign of good beef would have to be that it plates up well – that is after all the whole idea of beef production, to be eaten.

    At the Hotel Orient on Queen St. in Brisbane, owner, Mark “Trunk” Lassman says the Rangeland Quality Meats’ (RQM) steak is the best he’s ever served.

    “In the old days, tasty meat was chewy but that’s not the case with this meat,” he said.

    “You’re getting rib fillet with great flavor – once it hits the pan it caramelizes and when you serve it up the customers love it. I’ve had several steak houses and this is the best I’ve served”

    He said the Rangeland Quality Meats steaks, produced from Banchory Grazing’s Angus/Brahman cattle, tasted like steak.

    “You don’t need mustard or sauces to get some flavor about it. That’s why I use it,” he said.

    He said alot of meat had become “sterile” in its flavor and texture, not too unlike chicken, which meant it had lost some of  the characters that made steak “a steak”.

    However, after 25 years in food service he was extremely pleased with the product he’d found at Rangeland Quality Meats.

    And with renovations just complete at the Hotel Orient,  he will open the steakhouse in one week’s time with RQM Angus/Brahman steak on the menu.

    To find out more about Rangelands Quality Meats         www. rqm.com.au