When your calves are processed and the meat is marketed through your own butchery you need to make sure the product is great. Gary and Wayne Tainton combine their beef farming enterprise with the local butcher at Yea, Victoria. “When we were pure Angus, we had issues with the Angus heifer being too fat as a carcase, so about 10 years ago, we started using Charolais bulls to get more growth in our calves and lessen the issue of the fat heifers,” Gary said. “We’re operating two businesses, we’ve got to keep our customers happy in the shop, but we have to do the job right on the farm to get it right,” Gary said “we are always trying to improve “we want our customers 100% happy and the proof is in the pudding”, It’s satisfying to have a customer say “their steak was the best ever” both as a butcher and a farmer.

 

When your calves are processed and the meat is marketed through your own butchery you need to make sure the product is great. Gary and Wayne Tainton combine their beef farming enterprise with the local butcher shop in the highly productive Killingsworth district on the outskirts of Yea. Raised in the local area and progressively adding land to their holdings, Wayne and Gary operate on 283 hectares they own and some lease country. Yea is in the Victorian Ranges just 100km north of Melbourne and their country varies from Goulburn River flats to undulating hill country. Rainfall traditionally in the area is 28 inches but recent years have seen considerably drier statistics than that.

 

The brothers calve out 170 Angus females and have been using Charolais sires for the last ten years. Gary said “We’re a bit different to a lot of people, because we’re not trying to produce cattle for the store sale,” we’re solely focusing on producing a valuable carcase for the shop.” He said after working with a few other breeds and genetics, they have finally found a system that works.

The brothers have operated the butchery, Yea Meat Supply for over 30 years and also supply another brother’s outlet at Wangaratta where they process their calves. There is obvious pride in the beef produced and marketed through the store.

Their clientele is spread over a large area highlighting the quality product being produced. Excellent feedback from client testimonials has led to increased interest in the beef produced with clients spread over a large area. Wayne said there is a real interest in their story as farmers and butchers and pictures of the Angus breeders with their Charolais cross calves are featured in the store located in Yea’s main street.

 

“When we were pure Angus, we had issues with the Angus heifer being too fat as a carcase, so about 10 years ago, we started using Charolais bulls to get more growth in our calves and lessen the issue of the fat heifers,” Gary said. Being new to Charolais getting the right genetics to achieve their goals proved difficult, but a conversation with local Charolais identity Duncan Newcomen set them on the right path. The brothers prefer a sire that has impeccable temperament, softness and positive fat EBV’s. Successes have been achieved with the Ashwood Park Aristocrat line with Gary and Wayne using several sires from this line.

They also bought a bull from Airlie Charolais, at the Southern Charolais Breeders Group Sale now held in Yea and he said experimenting with these different genetics has been a big learning experience. We now know that we need the vealer type Charolais bull, with high growth and a positive fat scan,” Gary said.

Cows calve for eight weeks February/March which gives the calves the spring flush to finish on. Some late calves that don’t finish are weaned and fed grain in large paddocks with feeders. This assisted feeding is short term and normally only 50-60 days. Hay feeding tends to be more on the colder river flats in winter than the sheltered hill country. Gary said that quality river flats in the district are worth around $10,000 an acre.

 

Wayne said that some Charolais cross vealers have come off their dams at 470kg however the goal is to turn off their vealers at about 380-400 kilograms, around nine months of age. Fat specifications are in the range 5-8mm with some heifers laying down 10-12mm. About 18 calves are sent to Gathercole’s abattoir in Wangaratta a fortnight during spring.

Interestingly Gary related that one property tends to turn off the earliest calves every year, he also related how the first vealers come off the hill country where it is slightly warmer than the paddocks on the river flats. Pastures are fertilised to ensure that calves have the best opportunity. Hay is supplementary fed only when required.

 

Kill sheets for 2017 calves showed a draft of nine calves born February/March and processed 27th September 2017 averaging 217kg dressed and 5mm of fat. The heaviest calf was 248kg dressed, not bad for such young calves. A draft of 20 calves processed in late November averaged 226.5kg and averaged 7.3mm indicating the Charolais sired calves are consistently hitting their specifications.

The cows are rotation grazed on a regular basis and stocking rates are set to achieve their goal of finished vealers. The brothers agree that they could run more breeders however with their product marketed through their own outlet it is crucial to focus on the end product. This constant rotation assists in worm control and only young females are drenched.

The rotation also allows the brothers to know their breeders and appraise their productivity. Females are kept until about 12 years as long as they are producing. Replacement Angus females are purchased from the same source and they have been happy with the quality they are purchasing.

 

Whilst running the two businesses is time consuming the brothers make it happen. Occasionally one heads home from the shop early afternoon to do farm work and Sundays can be cattle days if two people are needed to draft. Gary said different times of the year are particularly busy, for example when the cows are calving. Their father is now retired but lends a hand to check cows and assist where required. Gary’s son Jaxson (10) is also a keen participant in farming activities. “We’re operating two businesses, we’ve got to keep our customers happy in the shop, but we have to do the job right on the farm to get it right,” Gary said “we are always trying to improve “we want our customers 100% happy and the proof is in the pudding”, It’s satisfying to have a customer say “their steak was the best ever” both as a butcher and a farmer.

 

Breeding For Results.

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