The aim of the breeding program is to breed quiet, sound, functional cattle who will thrive under commercial conditions and maximise profits from beef for their owners. There is a strong emphasis on fertility, with all heifers reaching the target weight mated as yearlings and expected to rear a calf every year. Culling is done on performance. Mating periods are brief and calving condensed. We aim to use proven sires to breed productive cattle of moderate size with early growth and early maturity. We are also looking for adequate meat and positive fats.
We believe that calving ease and fertility are two of the most profitable traits and are more important than growth. This means more live calves on the ground and reduces an important area of lost production. We therefore aim to keep our birweights below average and our growth and meat above average. Bull selection is done using parameters which we believe will add value to our clients. Thes include HP and Dairy indexes. We also believe that finishing ability is an important economic trait since in offers flexibility especially in dry years – the opportunity to finish at 15 months or grow on to heaver weights.
Indexes are tools derived from EBVs which place a dollar [profit] value on each animal. Differing weight is placed on economically important traits with calving ease attracting a high weighting. A steep growth curve and eye muscle area also attract positive weighting.
Our herd sires all have HP and DM indexes which are well above average and some are in the top 1% for Australasia. We believe this has the potential to improve the profitability of our clients’ beef operations and this is the aim of our breeding program.
All animals are fed at close to commercial levels and no supplements are fed or crops used.
The stud was founded by John Allen in the late 1970’s. Females were sourced from a variety of studs in the North and South Islands. Initially some of the cattle were horned but only polled sires have been used since the mid 1980s. Dominant sires have been used from Braxton, Nithdale and Koanui studs. More recently, sires have been purchased from Okawa, Awhea, and Limehills studs.
The farm consists of 800 acres of rolling to steep country at Glen Murray. In 2012 we purchased a runoff block of 230 acres which is 10km away from the home farm. There is a variety of contours from gently rolling to steep and the country tends to be winter wet and summer dry. Stock consist of around 240 breeding cows and 1200 ewes and supporting young stock. Bulls are sold as yearlings or culled and sold as prime steers and cull heifers are sold for local trade at 15-18 months. Lambs are sold for the prime market and cull ewes are sold as 5 -yr olds.
Mahuta cattle are farmed in conjunction with commercial cattle and grazed in an intensive rotational grazing program with an emphasis on feed efficiency. Cows are used to prepare pasture for fattening stock and to clean up rough feed.
Heifers are mated to low-birthweight bulls. The herd is divided into two groups although all stock are run together. One group is used to breed low birthweight bulls for heifer mating and the other bred for growth and meat.
Our philosophy is to expose all catttle to commercial farming pressures thus selecting those which will thrive in a commercial environment. This involves breeding cattle which can withstand hardship and compensate with catch-up growth. We believe that this will improve returns to the commercial cattleman.
In 2010 Angus heifers were purchased from the Waitangi Stud. We purchased further heifers in 2011 from the Te Atarangi Stud. We have chosen these because they are farmed in a similar enviroment to our own and the herds have a strong emphasis on fertility. In particular, the Te Atarangi stud has a very short mating period thus selecting the most fertile females and this will result in more fertile bulls.