In the shadows of Kosciusko, Adjungbilly near Coolac, is one of those classic high country places where a farm will contain two kinds of land – river flats and anything from big hills to mountains. And that’s exactly what Will and Simone Onus have, with the Tumut River running through their flat country.
The family is running 1400 females and 400 heifers – and as many as 6000 fine wool Merinos, which Will said are very much the smaller part of the business in the fourth-generation family business – across their 2400ha. But it wasn’t always that way, the family had been big on wool since his great grandfather went into farming.
“It was the Reserve Price Scheme crash back in the early ’90s that got us out of wool only, and into beef cattle,” Will explained. “We originally farmed between Moree and Mungindi and yes, once you could say we were in the middle of nowhere, and the daily trip to school was 90 minutes each way,” he recalled with a shiver.
“Which is why I was pretty happy when we moved down here – because the local school is on our farm, so I didn’t have far to go after that – and our children Finn, 10; Scout, 8, and Oscar, 4, all go there now.” And just as his academic career took a decided turn for the better when he arrived in Adjungbilly, Will is convinced his herd’s genetic profile is also about take a significant turn for the better with his membership of Team Te Mania.
“Last year we used Te Mania semen in an AI program with 300 of our cows. This year we will put the bulls with another 300 and use them as mop-ups for the females in our AI program,” Will added.
“We join in November and try to get everything done in six weeks, but with more AI being used realistically it will probably be six to eight weeks,” he said.
“We had been pushing harder and harder to improve our female sales; we have a lot of breeding country but not such good finishing land and every year we turn off our five- and six-year-olds PTIC, along with all our empties, so the better their genetics the better we will do.”
Will already has a relationship with Rangers Valley at Glen Innes, NSW, where a lot of Team Te Mania steers are fed year round, by doing backgrounding on trade steers for the feedlot.
At the moment his annual steer turnoff can be as many as 700 animals aged 14-16 months and weighing between 650kg and 700kg.
“I guess you could say we didn’t have a consistent theme or plan beyond cattle that are easy calvers and with good fertility, but we knew we wanted to push the percentages,” he said.
Will said the clincher for him was attending a Team Te Mania workshop, talking with other members, and seeing just how successful major events such as the Team Te Mania commercial online female sale had become.
“We started to see how it all fits together and I was taken aback when I saw the learning potential and the support and advice available by being part of the Team.
“It was obvious they were so much better at what they do, in their understanding and achievements with their genetics – and having access to the Te Mania family’s vision for the breed really sealed the deal. It also gives you access to Tom Gubbins and Hamish McFarlane whenever you need it really and we will now be targeting a high marbling, high eating quality animal.
“I also believe having the Te Mania Angus brand behind our turnoff will further distinguish our steers and females in the marketplace.”
- Team Te Mania member since 2021
- Spring calving