Guy Fawkes Station – Fraser and Pam James, Ebor, NSW
Fraser and Pam James feel pretty lucky to be living at Ebor up on the Northern Tablelands of NSW. They enjoy breeding cattle, they live in a beautiful part of the world and have a great lifestyle.
Their 960ha property, Guy Fawkes Station, is located 85km east of Armidale. It is plateau country at 1100m with basalt soils in a 1200mm annual rainfall band.
“Our enterprise sees us join 900-plus females including 250 heifers in an AI program. We calve down 650 in total and sell the rest as PTIC cull heifers and dry/cull cows” Fraser James said.
“Our target is the long fed feeder market with steers that marble – most of them go to Rangers Valley at Glen Innes with some going to Whyalla at Texas.
The James’ strategy is join the majority of their heifers in a single round synchronised AI Program. Those who conceive are kept , the rest are put to bulls and sold PTIC.
At any time the farm is running 1200 cattle – which takes a big jump each spring, rising closer to 2000.
It is an intensive system – very reliant not just on its rainfall, but on it falling at the right time.
Like many of us Fraser is also noticing the challenge of changing seasonal patterns.
“We are getting later Springs and drier Autumns. We are running a high stocking rate and with Spring calving cows we haven’t got a lot of flexibility through Winter so we need to build a feed base in Autumn and ideally get an early Spring break for calving, he added.
“Our heifers calve over two weeks in July, the cows over eight weeks starting in mid August . Bulls go in at the start of November. We like to start off-loading steers to the feedlot in November–December at 15-16 months of age and 500-520kg.
Our focus is marbling and growth. Marbling is free, growth comes at a cost and I don’t want 700 kg cows that have a high maintenance requirement. I’m sourcing lease bulls from Te Mania that are producing steers that marble well with a moderate growth profile and females that are fertile and functional with great temperaments and longevity.
Fraser and Pam recently sold a load of steers to a processor that were too heavy for the feedlot, there were a number marbling 3 with one 4 and one 5.
“I thought that was pretty impressive off grass, with them going out at 550-600kg,” Fraser said.
“Our calves are yard-weaned, trained for a week on cracked barley , cotton seed and some silage.
The James’ have just finished preg testing and finished up between 93-95 per cent – their 10-11 year-olds averaged 92.8 per cent but the returning first calved heifers topped them all with 95 per cent.
The couple purchased their property in 2004 and Fraser said in their first six years they did a lot of backgrounding for Rangers Valley, buying in steers to fatten.
In 2010, Fraser bought 200 heifers, the majority of which were PTIC to Te Mania Angus blood bulls. The next year he went to his first Te Mania sale at Walgett and came home with a line of seven bulls.
He joined Team Te Mania in 2012 and kept adding Te Mania Angus females to his herd – some from Susie Chisholm’s Team Te Mania foundation herd at Adelong and others from another team member, Guy Fitzhardinge.
“I was focused on high-marbling cows from the start. Since 2012 I have been pure Te Mania Angus.”
Today Fraser and Pam have 25 bulls on hand – perhaps a couple more than needed but Fraser is a pragmatist.
“If we need a replacement bull we are a long way from Te Mania Angus at Mortlake so it doesn’t hurt to have a couple of spares on hand,” he explained.
Being in the Team Te Mania program has given us early access to some great young bulls such as Te Mania Garth G67 that have been identified as something special .
“Hamish put us onto Garth in 2014 and we used him over all our heifers that year and again in 2015. He has had a big impact on our herd, the feedlots love him for his carcase attributes and we’ve been able to lease a number of his sons in the last few years to use over the older cows. That’s a benefit I get from Te Mania, they join 2000 cows a year and I can source several bulls of a particular bloodline very easily.
“We were also impressed by Te Mania Governor G576 and have used him in our AI program the last two years. He has a moderate growth profile, with 4.3 IMF. We got some lovely calves by him last Spring and I’m expecting the same this year.
“Ebor is a long way from Mortlake but Pam and I make the trip once a year to catch up. It is such an impressive operation particularly how much technology is embedded in everything they do. I always come home having learned something, whether it is some sage advice from Andrew or something I’ve picked up from having a drive around with Hamish or Tom.
In the scheme of things we are only a small producer and I don’t plan on getting any bigger. We are very lucky to have some pretty good country and several feedlots that are Angus focused within a few hundred kilometres of Ebor. I’m looking forward to seeing the impact that new technologies such as genomics are going to have on our business and the industry more broadly. Te Mania genetics have given us a great foundation upon which we have built our business . Te Mania have been at the forefront of the Angus breeding industry for decades and I’m very confident that they will be great partners for a long time to come.
Member of Team Te Mania since 2012
Johne’s Status – Beef Only
Calving period – Aug – Sept