Quiet temperament leads to quality meat

October 2, 2015

A testament to the quiet nature of the cattle breed, Rob Bass,(pictured below) Boyup Brook, looks over a selection of his Murray Grey weaners which will be sold through the Boyanup saleyards this week. Some 15-20 heifers from the mixed group will also be kept.


BOYUP Brook cattle producers Rob Bass and Kerry Pinch are as passionate about the Murray Grey breed as they come.

Rob’s love of cattle stems from his father’s involvement in the English and WA dairy industries.

Following years spent on friends’ cattle properties, helping his dad out in Brunswick-based milking sheds and taking on his first job milking cows and raising poddy calves for cash, Rob always knew cattle would be a part of his future.

After years spent on their smaller Waterloo property near Bunbury, Rob and Kerry made the move to Boyup Brook in 1997 where they had purchased about 100 hectares in December 1996.

Since then Murray Greys have played a big role in Rob and Kerry’s now-190ha production system.

The couple was immediately drawn to the Murray Grey breed because of its temperament, growth and finishing rates, easy calving tendencies and excellent mothering abilities.

And it’s for those reasons that both Rob and Kerry are also able maintain off-farm employment to complement their cattle enterprise.

The couple’s predominantly Murray Grey herd is based on Southend Murray Grey genetics.

Despite having bought one Black Simmental bull last year to put over the bottom 25 per cent of their herd in an experimental bid to boost performance, Rob said he will always maintain a base herd of Murray Grey females and never move away from Murray Grey genetics.

Currently running 120 breeders in their self-replacing herd, Rob and Kerry also keep 15-20 of their own Southend blood heifers each year.

“We’ve been using Southend genetics for about 14 years now and we’ve never looked back,” Rob said.

“One of the biggest reasons for returning to buy a bull each year is that the animals are so quiet.

“We’ve never had any trouble with calves and each and every year I know what to expect.”

In recent years Rob and Kerry have bought cows from the Katanning-based stud too.

“The Wise family at Southend are committed to seeing the Murray Grey breed get better and better and their work shows come sale time each and every year,” Rob said.

When Rob and Kerry initially purchased their Boyup Brook block they had a limited budget for stocking the place so they went out and bought anything they could afford that would produce a calf.

Among that herd were some Murray Greys which continued to out-perform the other breeds year in, year out.

“We were faced with a few tough years and they stuck it out on less than desirable feed rations,” Rob said.

“I love that about them and some of the calves they turned off in those years were magnificent given the circumstances.

“A former Elders stock agent at Bridgetown persuaded me to go to Katanning to have a look at Southend bulls.

“The following year we bought two W bulls and haven’t looked back since.”

Rob said the Murray Grey breed provides everything a cattleman looks for in an animal – length, thickness, temperament and quality carcase attributes.

Fertility also ranks highly.

“After last season’s 13 week joining only eight of our cows failed to get in calf,” he said.

“As well as management and environmental factors, the breed has a lot to do with that.”

Rob said 2014 wasn’t the easiest of years for cattle at Boyup Brook thanks to a dry June period and an overly wet and cold July.

But despite that his cattle performed well.

After a February calving for their heifers and the cows starting in March, Rob and Kerry turned off a quality catalogue of weaners just after Christmas.

Following 12 days on plenty of hay in the yards and a few days out in the paddock the young 320 kilogram (average) animals will be sold through the Boyanup saleyards in mid-January.

Some cull cows – including those that didn’t get in calf – will be shipped to Harvey Beef in May.

Any cow that has reared a calf but is incapable of doing it again next year and smaller carcasses that didn’t make the grade as weaners are sent off-farm as body beef in October in order to achieve a better return on investment.

“I don’t follow a strict selling regime, instead I like to keep an eye on the market,” Rob said.

“At the moment the beef market is brilliant.

“It’s back to where it’s supposed to be and hopefully it maintains this kind of increase.

“What worries me though is the high price of Australian processing and whether the industry is able to maintain those costs.

“It will inevitably affect the consumer and their willingness to continue to support the Australian beef industry by buying the product – especially given the fact Murray Grey producers are turning out such exceptional dressing percentages and remarkable yields of saleable beef.”

Rob and Kerry are also big believers in the benefits of minerals which sees them inject their cows for selenium and cobalt before they calve and again when they’re put to the bull.

The couple also invests heavily in their self-sown (8-12ha) and late season (16ha) ryegrass pastures.

Some 100 tonnes of lime is spread each year as well as 25t of fertiliser.

Additional fertiliser and urea is also added to paddocks sown to oaten hay varieties (15ha).

In a bid to achieve a better return for their investment the couple also mows some of their pastures which sees up to 700 small bales in the shed at any one time.

“A lot of money and effort is put into the pastures so I hate seeing grass dry out,” Rob said.

“We don’t believe in selling skinny animals – both in terms of the animals’ welfare and our bottom line.”

He said a rock solid marketing campaign by the Angus Society of Australia has convinced some commercial cattle producers that Black Angus carcase traits are preferred by abattoirs and butchers around Australia and the world.

“While the Angus breed is highly recorded using Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs), Murray Grey carcase traits are highly sought after by butchers,” Rob said.

“Their very quiet temperament helps to make sure that quality meat is produced with the end user or consumer in mind.

Article courtesy of Farmweekly – Bobbie Hinkley