By Bridie Edwards, The Land, January 19, 2017
OVERCOMING tough times and moving steadily into the future is on the agenda for Barfold Beef producers Ray and Margaret Shea along with son Matthew and wife Karly.
Their 1300-hectare enterprise at Barfold via Kyneton, Victoria, grazes 600 Angus breeders.
Last year Barfold Beef agisted 130 cows and calves in the Clare region due to dry conditions.
The autumn portion of calves were returned home in late December for the local weaner sales in January.
“I haven’t seen calves look so well this time of year before,” Matthew Shea said.
“They have grown quickly in 2015 – the year has allowed them to reach their genetic potential, which we haven’t seen for a long time,”
In 2007, the Sheas had a major upgrade of genetic quality, purchasing 140 Callendale Station cows from its dispersal and subsequently purchasing eight Te Mania bulls, all of which are the foundation of their herd today. After the Black Saturday fires that ravaged the farm in 2009, the Shea family said everything was falling back together nicely and the relationships they now have with industry-wide people have encouraged them into direct marketing.
In September last year, Barfold Beef started supplying a Bendigo cafe called Boris Murgers with prime Angus mince, capturing the consumer trend of supporting local products direct from the farmer. Since then they have also supplied the local butcher shop, Sizzlin’ Sensations in Kytenon, with 21-day hung pure Angus.
“Without the strong relationships we have in the region it wouldn’t have been possible,” he said.
Mr Shea said they hoped expand into quarter and half packs to sell directly to the public. They use the Te Mania bloodline throughout the herd and are moving into artificial insemination (AI) as Mr Shea said they received terrific results.
“We find they do extremely well and the service we are provided is above standard,” he said. “I believe Te Mania is the leading genetics for Angus cattle.”
In 2015 Barfold Beef found a commercial lift in AI from Te Mania Garth G67 semen.
They trialed it with 50 cows and 50 heifers in the autumn, which returned 70 per cent in calf, in spring they trailed 150 heifers and 50 cows.
Mr Shea said they could not have been happier with the calves that dropped.
“Such an elite sire like Garth produced a terrific drop of calves.
“We are pleased Te Mania director Hamish McFarlan guided us to this bull.
“Although we didn’t AI in 2016 it was simply because we had little time but moving into 2017 we are considering AI for another 280 heifers, 100 to be sired by Garth. We hope to see another lift in genetics there.”