Hard work pays off at Velyere Farm | Weekly farm
YEARS of hard work invested in his breeding business are finally paying off at Velyere Farm in Dandaragan.
The farm is owned by the Lee family of Malaysia, who have owned farmland all over Western Australia for over 50 years.
Farm manager Peter Rathjen has managed the property for four years, alongside livestock manager Portia Broadbent, who has looked after the cattle for almost two years.
Mr Rathjen was originally from York, where his family owned a farm and prior to working on Velyere Farm he was based in Geraldton, where he managed a farm property.
Ms Broadbent has been in Australia for 10 years, having left New Zealand and worked in a feedlot in Hyden before moving to Dandaragan.
The farm covers 8,094 hectares (20,000 acres) in total and has joined over 1,000 head of purebred Angus cattle this year.
Of the land, 5000ha are dedicated to the cultivation program, which includes wheat, barley, oats, lupine and canola.
All oats are used as feed for cattle as well as for some lupines.
In addition, they sow certain varieties of pasture, including vetch and various greenhouses.
In the past two years, the focus has been on increasing the number of breeders to 1000 heads.
Ms Broadbent said that having reached the ideal herd size, she could now focus more on selecting a consistent genetic line.
âWe can spend more time and effort perfecting the line,â Ms. Broadbent said.
Angus has always been raised on the farm and she said they liked the breed because they had a good temperament, produced good results and had good meat qualities.
Ms Broadbent also said they were climate-appropriate and performed well in the region.
To increase their numbers, they kept all the heifers and mated them, but they will now be able to slaughter any cattle that do not meet the standards.
Ms Broadbent said they strive to keep a pure Angus herd, with cows that will drop a small calf with a rapid growth rate.
âWith the heifers, we used low birth weight bulls so that they had a smaller calf,â she said.
The bulls come mainly from the annual sale of Gingin bulls from the Cookalabi Angus stud farm in Tophams, Coomberdale and the Kapari Angus stud farm of the Sudlow family, Northampton.
The bulls are introduced with the heifers in August, while the cows are joined in September.
They mate in September because this coincides with the time when the feeding is most abundant.
“The dates are a little later than those of other producers, but that’s when the feeding is at its best here and calving moves away from planting time,” she said. declared.
The heifers are bred a month earlier because Ms Broadbent said she likes being able to focus this month on their daily check-up without the cows falling at the same time.
The general rule of thumb is that bulls with lower birth weight numbers are placed on the heifers, and then as the cows get older and bigger, they are mated to bulls with higher birth weight numbers.
âThis system ensures that we get the best results with our steers, while taking care of the heifers,â she said.
All females undergo a pregnancy test in February.
Keeping records has been a key part of improving their operation.
âIt gives us the story of each animal and allows us to make better, more informed decisions to ultimately produce the best livestock,â she said.
EID tags have played a vital role in the tracking and registration of animals.
âIt’s something we didn’t have at the start and they’ve been a really good tool,â she said.
This year the cattle were weaned directly from their mothers and sold through the Muchea Livestock Center.
The market they sell to varies depending on the season, as they usually try to look for the best prices in the market.
Mr Rathjen said cattle prices were possibly the highest they’ve ever been, with one of their lines selling earlier this year for a sales peak of 611 to 616 cents per kilogram ( live weight).
The buoyant market has also enabled them to reinvest in heifers and livestock on the farm rather than devoting them to fattening weaners.
âIt allowed us to focus on the heifers rather than the steers,â Ms. Broadbent said.
As for the seasonal conditions, this year the rainfall has been abundant, which means that they have had green feed for the livestock since March.
âWe just ran them on different paddocks,â she said.
After a few drier years, the strong 2021 season was unexpected and in anticipation of another difficult year, they purchased a mixer wagon, which they planned to use to supplement a grain ration.
âFortunately, I didn’t have to use it this year, but I have it for years to come if they need to,â she said.
The business relies primarily on groundwater pumped from drinking troughs but there are also a few dams on the property.
A major future improvement they seek to make is the renovation of pastures.
Ms Broadbent said she hoped to sow more perennials along with the annuals to maintain a more consistent source of food on the soil year-round and reduce the need for supplementary feeding.
âI test various species to find the best ones for the different types of soil on the property,â she said.
Various multi-species grazing crops are sown in most of the pens designated for livestock grazing, so that large volumes of animal feed are produced to enable the rearing of livestock at high stocking rates.
In January, they also installed new Clipex pneumatic stockyards to improve efficiency.
Ms Broadbent said they have come a long way and are proud of the progress made in the development of the cattle herd.
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