Greens Creek cattle and sheep producer Brett Stewart says he leans towards beef when it comes to management ease.
Mr Stewart, Wimmera Downs, was one of several producers who sold large drafts of heifers at last week's joined female sale at Ballarat.
While he didn't top the sale, his best pen of pregnancy-tested-in-calf heifers was not far off the best prices.
"I've got a rotation going on, with the heifers and our own stock and buying in Merino ewes, to breed a first-cross," he said.
"Cattle and sheep do run well together, but I do like cattle because they require less maintenance.
"With sheep, you always seem to be doing something with them.
"Sheep can get flies, they need crutching and shearing, whereas the old cow, she sits in the paddock and doesn't need a lot of attention."
Mr Stewart and wife Babette are in partnership with his father Graeme, running stock and growing crops on 2200 hectares of their own land and leasing a further 810ha.
They sold 152 heifers at Ballarat, comprising 102 rising 2.5-year-old and 50 rising 2-year-old females.
He said the property was running 100 head of breeders and before the Ballarat sale had 250 heifers.
The Stewarts' first pen of 17 Toora West-blood PTIC Angus heifers, 27-28-months-old, sold for $3300, the top price they received on the day.
The heifers, PTIC to Banquet bulls, will calve from mid-March.
"We bought them in Mortlake in May and we decided to buy a few more this year," he said.
"This is the third year we've bought them; we like them for their frame and they are a nice line-up.
"Toora West sell a few numbers, so you can get the numbers you are looking for."
He said he chose the heifers on size, hoping they would have a good frame on them when it came time to sell.
"A couple of years ago, we topped the market with those heifers," he said.
"We felt everyone else likes them as well, so that's why we kept looking at them."
Banquet bulls are used over the heifers due to their fertility, temperament and shape.
Bulls went into the herd from June 4 for eight weeks.
"Once we got onto Banquet, that's where we have stayed," he said.
Toora West's Cass and Chas Kimpton was at Ballarat and said Mr Stewart had done a good job on the heifers.
Wimmera Downs, north-east of Stawell, was established in the 1950s.
"It was mainly sheep, my father had a go at steers back in the late 1960s and to the mid 1970s, but had his fingers burned and never again," he said.
"Everyone in the district says that was the time when you got way less for the steers than you paid for them."
Before moving into cattle, the property was running Merino wethers.
"When the wool job went a bit pear-shaped, we decided to look at cows and calves, and we've been there since," he said.
The property runs a cow and calf to every 2ha and a heifer to every 1.2ha.
"We have tried heavier stocking rates, but we found we ran out of feed in certain years, so we find it more comfortable to be at those rates," he said.
The heifers went into paddocks where pasture had been prepared before their arrival, with a resulting weight gain of between 1.1-1.2 kilograms a week.
The property was sown down to a base of lucerne, clover and rye, with paddocks cropped for two years then spelled for five to eight years, and used for cattle and sheep grazing.
He said the family was buying in heifers to "value-add" to the property's operation.
It also allowed for ease of management for part of the farm, with 100 breeding cows and usually 150 heifers.
This year they were running 250 heifers, 50 of their own and 100 from off-farm.
"We keep the heifers until two-years-old and sell the steers, depending on the season, and what the price is doing, as 15 or 18-month-olds," he said.
Mr Stewart said he mainly sold at Ballarat, as it was a strong sale and seemed to pull buyers from all areas.
One bull was used over 40 heifers, with no artificial insemination.
"We are probably about the only people with a fair herd; the rest of the farmers around here are mainly sheep," he said.
"We have heavy country along the Wimmera River, so you can get away with it, but we run sheep on our lighter country."
Via - Stock and Land
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