FOR Alex and David Mason being beef cattle producers is as simple – and as complex – as breeding the best you can, all the time.
The Inverell couple, who run Weegowrie with son James (their other son Ned is an agricultural engineer working off farm) are moving from a Wagyu/Angus F1 program to a larger, pure Angus herd.
Not just any Angus either.
Alex said if they were going to breed the best cattle the genetics they used would have to come from the best as well.
“So we joined Team Te Mania, with our first bulls arriving in May and we now have 90 autumn calvers PTIC to them,” Alex said.
“It will be fabulous to see some thumping purebred Angus calves on the ground,” she said.
“We reckon we will be able to turn them off at the same age as the F1 steers – at 14-18 months.
“The F1s would average around 430kg at that point and we are hoping the pure Angus steer calves will enter the feedlot 50kg heavier, making them very attractive from a management point of view.”
Alex said the family love cattle and had tried a raft of management strategies, including trading, composites and crossbreds and the Wagyu.
Herd health and nutrition management is considered a priority for the Masons.
As well as their beef herd, the Masons also crop about 300ha – mostly for fodder as part of the Graze and Grain program – but in a good year will also have some grain to market.
And after too many bad years there has been plenty of rain and the Masons are looking forward to rebuilding their herd.
Just not as big as it can be – and has been.
During the drought the breeders the family kept were fed via on-farm feedlot process – they were fed for production. Alex admitted it wasn’t cheap but the nucleus of their future not only survived, when joined they had a 96 per cent conception rate when that figure has normally been around 90-92 per cent.
Alex said lessons have been learnt and now they will focus on even more quality looking to match the marbling performance of their Wagyu F1s.
“Our cattle were going to Ranger’s Valley and the industry F1 marbling average was around 5.4 but we managed to come in around 5.7 – we even had a wing of steers go 9 a few years ago,” Alex added.
“And it was Ranger’s Valley who urged us to get involved with Team Te Mania; they kept telling us all the benefits and the quality and value of the Team product so it didn’t need take much of a push to get us on board,” she said.
Weegowrie is 1172ha with some extra lease country and operates a split calving, which was reduced by a third in the 2018/2019 drought. Normally it runs around 400 head but will probably focus on 300 pure Te Mania Angus breeders as well as a small full blood Wagyu program alongside it.
Alex said the family is big on data and doing things right; and like the long-term relationship aspect of Team Te Mania.
She said they access all feedback from Ranger’s Valley and Ned is big on analysis, using it to identify the best in their herd and the underperformers, who have to go.
“In 2010 when we were trading, sometimes you’d end up with a $20 profit and we’d be jumping for joy; now if we can add an extra 50kg to our cattle going into the feedlot it will be happy days.”
Member of Team Te Mania since 2020