Home' Otago Southland Farmer : August 23rd 2013 Contents 12
Fifty years of the mighty Angus
It's almost 150 years since the first Angus cattle arrived in New Zealand. The Cochrane family recently celebrated their own milestone with
50 years of breeding stud Angus cattle in the Kuriwao Gorge. Diane Bishop reports.
Jubilant: Kuriwao Gorge farmers John and Tracey Cochrane have celebrated 50 years of breeding stud Angus cattle.
Angus calves are
followed up the
road by Rex Robson.
sold for $5500.
sold 21 bulls at
sale this year for
Beef breeds come and go.
But, in the Kuriwao Gorge, the
mighty Angus is thriving.
For more than 50 years the
Cochrane family have farmed
stud Angus cattle and have made
a name for themselves supplying
top quality bulls to commercial
John and Tracey Cochrane, who
celebrated the milestone at their
annual bull sale this year,
describe the breed as ''great
''That's why dad bought Angus
cows and it still rings true today,''
The Cochranes farm the Delmont
Angus stud comprising 220 stud
cows and in-calf heifers on their
South Otago hill country prop-
The stud was established by
John's late father Stuart, who
settled on the original ballot farm
in 1949, after World War II.
''When Dad came here it was one
block with a ring fence around the
farm and there were no buildings
and no power.
''He lived in a hut until 1951.
Stuart became interested in
Angus cattle after visiting Moles-
worth Station, where they perfor-
med well in a challenging
He went on to establish the
Delmont Angus stud in 1963.
''To the best of my knowledge
those first animals came from
Cricklewood, Te Mania and
Gladbrook studs,'' John said.
When Stuart moved off the farm
in the late 1970s, the stud was
taken over by John and his elder
brother Graeme, who farmed in
partnership for almost 30 years.
They focused on breeding
medium-framed cows with good
length and depth but foremost in
their breeding programme was
producing cattle with good confir-
mation and temperament.
''That (confirmation and tempera-
ment) is the most important.
''It comes before anything else,''
The stud peaked at around 250
cows in the mid 1990s, but when
the partnership ended in 2008, and
John and Tracey took over the
stud, it was scaled back to 220
cows including in-calf heifers.
Cattle provide the perfect mix to
their sheep farming operation,
which comprises 7500 mainly
perendale ewes and 1850 ewe
Originally 1000 hectares, the
property increased to 2500ha over
the years with the purchase of
neighbouring land but has since
been reduced to 1460ha.
The cows, including the heifers,
are all mated back to Angus bulls,
and they usually calve around 93
John admits the calving percent-
age ''could be better'' but in the
Kuriwao Gorge, the stock are
often exposed to challenging
The cows are wintered on self-feed
silage rather than on the hill
country, as was previously done,
while the other cattle are set-
stocked on blocks that need
''We've gone away from stripping
the hill because we're aiming to
regenerate as much of the natural
cover as we can.
''The tussock is great shelter for
the ewes and lambs,'' John said.
The cows are set-stocked prior to
calving in late August on autumn-
saved hill blocks which haven't
been grazed since the first week of
''We set stock them at 50 cows per
block on the sunny side of the hill
The calves are tagged in early
February and they are also sexed
at this time.
By separating the bull calves from
the heifer calves, while still on the
mothers, they can be preferen-
tially fed and this also prevents
the heifer calves from getting
It also helps identify the best
performing bull calves that are
managed under the same feeding
''Because we are selling these
bulls on to commercial beef
breeders it is essential that we
allow the genetics to express
The bull calves usually average
320 kilograms liveweight at
weaning in late April and
anything below 250kg is castrated.
The weaned bull calves are then
sent to the Cochrane's finishing
farm, Barnego, near Balclutha,
where they will remain until sale
The Cochranes sold 21 bulls for an
average $4850 at their on-farm
sale in May with the top-priced
bull fetching $7000.
''It was a very strong sale and we
have a lot of repeat buyers who
come back year after year.''
They also sell up to 50 in-calf
heifers each year that are surplus
Not afraid to invest in top genetics
themselves, the Cochranes
recently bought three new stud
sires -- two from the Atahua stud
in Feilding and one from the Mt
Mable stud at Norsewood.
The latter was bought in partner-
ship with the Penvose stud from
The bull calves are replaced on
the home block with 70 Angus or
Angus-cross steer calves bought
from the Balclutha saleyards and
privately every autumn.
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