Kestal - Garry and Liz Skeer, Millicent SA
More than 25 years ago Garry Skeer’s father, Brian instituted his own succession plan on the family farm in the Lower South-East of SA. He handed over the reins to son Garry and his wife Liz – and then got out of the way. A move which Liz says gave their family the opportunity to enjoy a long and happy life on the land. The only catch is they are still juggling their own future with daughters Natalie and Kellie, both living in Adelaide, about as far as you can get from the family farm in Millicent without leaving the state. “But they have told us they don’t want the farm sold,” Liz says. That’s been one challenge for the Skeers.
The other, Liz says, has been making sure they can produce the best Angus herd they can after making the decision, six years ago, to go all black. That came after years of playing around with a variety of breeds before deciding Angus would be the best way to go.
“We run 450 breeders which calve late February/early March on the property we call Heath, and 140 July/August calving cows on the home property Kestal,” Liz says.
“We also run crossbred ewes on Kestal because it is not really suited to cattle all year round,” she says. “And while the decisions have all been ours, when we took over the business Brian was a sheep man and there were only a few cattle on the property so there has been that connection.”
The Skeers started their Angus enterprise with Noranda and Vermont bloodlines, purchasing their first Te Mania Angus bull in the 2006 spring sale. Liz says this bull, Te Mania Modest Z854 had an immediate and impressive impact on their herd through his great growth and fertility figures. Since then, they have sourced bulls from Te Mania Angus.
“By the time we decided to join the Team we were basically pure Te Mania Angus,” Liz says.
“In 2008 we purchased land which was better for cattle than sheep and we had been talking with Hamish McFarlane at Te Mania Angus about the concept,” she says. “On the strength of what he explained to us, and the performance of Te Mania Modest, which we were using successfully for dual joinings, we felt our herd was where it needed to be to make the Team work for us.
“We are still using natural mating but are moving towards a full AI program with Team Te Mania back up bulls as part of the program.
“Our aim is to run a productive Angus herd which has fertile females with sound conformation. We calve down 100 heifers each year in their self-replacing herd.
“We hope to further increase our breeder numbers to 800, while continuing to improve the genetics and performance of the herd through our Team Te Mania membership.”
Liz says she and Garry attended their first Team Te Mania workshop and field day, held this year at Hamilton. “It was great and we learnt so much, got to meet some really good people and do a lot of networking,” she says.
“We are looking forward to being part of Team Te Mania, as this will give us access to some of the latest genetics, and being part of group of breeders who are all committed to the Angus breed.
“If you look around the industry a lot of herds and studs talk about what they are doing but if you trace it back so many of them are linked to Te Mania Angus.
“So we have gone straight to the source. We see Te Mania Angus as industry leaders and we know firsthand the benefits they have brought to us.”
- Team Te Mania member since 2011
- Calving period – February/March