Home' Otago Southland Farmer : May 17th 2013 Contents 6
SOUTHERN BEEF PROFIT PARTNERSHIP -- FROM THE FRONT PAGE
Cattle care beefs up sale profits
Top results: Lambhill Station manager Chris Thomson, left, with Southern Beef Profit Partnership facilitator Simon Glennie, is achieving good production gains
through increased calving percentage and the growth of calves to weaning.
MANAGERS: Chris and Lucy
AREA: 4546 hectares -- 1100ha
has been cultivated.
472 mixed-age Hereford and
Hereford-Angus cows (calving 91
133 rising two-year heifers
10 rising two-year heifers
246 heifer calves
269 steer calves
7075 mixed-age ewes
3000 ewe hoggets
RAINFALL: 550 to 680mm
Good breeders: The Angus and Hereford-Angus heifers have been mated for
the past five years.
Away you go: Steer calves are the ''first cab off the rank'' if it gets dry.
Lambhill Station at
Hindon is achieving an 8
per cent annual lift in
profit from its beef cow
herd. Otago Southland
Farmer reporter Diane
Bishop took the long
and winding road to
their recent field day.
The most important thing
is getting the cows back in
--- Chris Thomson
Lambhill Station at Hindon is
achieving an 8 per cent annual lift
in profit from its beef cow herd.
Otago Southland Farmer reporter
Diane Bishop took the long and
winding road to their recent field
Beef cows may be second-class
citizens on many properties, but
not on Lambhill Station.
Farm manager Chris Thomson is
focused on getting the best out of
his Hereford and Angus-Hereford
cross cows and the results speak
By feeding them well he has
managed to lift his calving result
from 84 to 92 per cent and has
improved the growth rate of his
calves to weaning -- exceeding the
5 per cent annual profit goal set by
the Southern Beef Profit Partner-
ship three years ago.
Chris and his wife Lucy run 470
mixed-age cows and their progeny
on Lamb Hill, a 4546-hectare
challenging hill country property
at Hindon, near Outram.
The Thomsons are one of seven
farming couples in the SBPP
spread from Waikouaiti to River-
ton, with herds ranging from 180
to 775 cows.
The extensive Lambhill station,
which is prone to hot dry
summers and harsh cold winters,
is also home to more than 12,000
sheep which are lambing around
130 per cent.
Cattle only make up 30 per cent of
the 20,000 stock units farmed on
Lambhill, of which 1100ha is
cultivated, but their value to the
farming operation is not to be
The Thomsons' main focus is
getting their cows in calf and
having them rear a good calf
through to weaning.
They used to mate a large number
of cows to Charolais bulls, but
more recently they have switched
to a maternal focus using Angus
Over-mating with Angus bulls
also allows for a greater selection
of replacement calves and
provides the option of selling in-
Apart from the extremely vari-
able weather, the other challenges
on Lambhill include grass grub
and porina and clover root weevil
which has decimated the
The Thomsons have implemented
a rigorous regrassing pro-
gramme, which involves cropping
paddocks and putting them back
into permanent pasture.
But Chris believes it will take 10
to 15 years to get consistently good
''You can't develop this country in
five minutes,'' he said.
About 1100ha has been cultivated
which has enabled the Thomsons
to double their stocking rate on
their hill country and treble the
amount of dry matter grown.
''In the first few years of
development we got a bit cocky
and put too much stock on and
then it got dry.
''We've since knocked our cow
numbers back,'' Chris said.
The cows winter well on Lambhill
because it is dry underfoot and
they put weight on easily without
the addition of supplements.
Having the cows in good con-
dition going into the spring has
helped lift the calving result from
84 to 92 per cent.
Average calf weaning weights
have increased from 210 to 258kg.
But weaning weights were back
this year because of the dry
SBPP facilitator Simon Glennie
said the increase in beef cow
productivity on Lambhill -- partly
due to more calves being born --
had resulted in an 8 per cent
annual gain on average or $30,000
a year over 472 cows.
Most of the mixed-age cows are
spread out over the hill blocks
during winter and Chris finds
that works better rather than
getting them to chew out a block.
''We've sacrificed pasture quality
for cow condition.
''The most important thing is
getting the cows back in calf,''
While the cows calve on the hill
blocks, the heifers calve behind a
wire on young grass paddocks.
The Thomsons wean their calves
earlier than most, which allows
them to focus on maintaining
good cow condition.
Chris is the first to admit his
calves are ''run calves at best''.
But he aims to produce a good
store animal that can be finished
on another property before the
''We aim to sell in November and
December,'' he said.
''In a good grass market and we've
got repeat buyers.
''In a dry or challenging season
the steers are the ''first cab off the
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