Ad­vanc­ing bran­gus

Oak­lands Bran­gus talks cloning heifers and prize-win­ning bulls

Central and North Rural Weekly - - FRONT PAGE - ZHANAE CON­WAY-DODD Zhanae.con­way-dodd@apn.com.au

FIF­TEEN years ago, a love for the bran­gus breed was fos­tered by Nev and Me­gan Hansen.

For the pair, the ver­sa­tile breed ticked ev­ery box, from their abil­ity to sur­vive in harsh coun­try to their car­case qual­ity, tick re­sis­tance and moth­er­ing abil­ity.

Now, a few prizewin­ning bulls and heifer clone later, the pair at Oak­lands Bran­gus at Kalapa are do­ing great things with the breed.

START­ING UP

Nev and Me­gan both grew up around cat­tle, Me­gan mostly in­volved in stud cat­tle and Nev on his fam­ily’s cat­tle prop­erty.

Nev strayed from cat­tle and be­came heavily in­volved in the bull rid­ing scene but re­turned to cat­tle breed­ing even­tu­ally.

Nev and Me­gan pur­chased their 240ha prop­erty as well as ag­ist­ment land at Kalapa about 15 years ago.

Orig­i­nally, they ran a brah­man-cross cow herd. How­ever, their tune soon changed when they bought a bran­gus bull to put with the herd.

“We were pretty happy with the re­sults so we thought maybe we should value-add, so we got into the stud side of the in­dus­try,” Nev said.

“The sa­le­yard pre­mi­ums is also what drew us to the breed. They are a ver­sa­tile breed, they’ve got good car­case qual­ity, good moth­er­ing abil­ity and good growth rates and tick re­sis­tance.

“It com­bines the har­di­ness of the brah­mans and the eat­ing qual­ity of the an­gus.

“Bran­gus can sur­vive in any coun­try.”

LEARN­ING CURVES

The pair now run 100 breed­ers. They say it’s a small num­ber but it al­lows them to fo­cus on im­prov­ing their herd.

Through the years, Nev said they’d learned that to make money, they had to in­vest money. Pas­sion­ate about de­vel­op­ing the breed, Nev and Me­gan fo­cussed on ge­net­ics.

“When we first started in the stud game, we went and bought a few heifers to get started and we never had any great re­sults for a while,” he said.

“Then we re­alised that to be the best we have to spend a lot of money and buy the good ge­net­ics, and we’ve never re­gret­ted that.

“Then we started do­ing em­bryo work and IVF and that led to an op­por­tu­nity to clone one of our cows.”

CLONING COWS

Nev said he just hap­pened to be “in the right place at the right time” when he was pre­sented with the op­por­tu­nity to clone one of their Oak­lands cows.

He was talk­ing to Si­mon Wal­ton at Aus­tralian

Re­pro­duc­tive Tech­nolo­gies, who men­tioned his cloning tech­nol­ogy.

“They had proven the cloning in the lab­o­ra­tory but hadn’t proved it in the field,” Nev said.

“So we said if they wanted to try it, we’d give it a go.

“We had a cow at the time that was Aus­tralian record price bran­gus fe­male, so we de­cided to clone her.”

For the Hansens, cloning was ba­si­cally a form of in­sur­ance.

“We had a cow and we had her in­sured but if some­thing hap­pens to her, you get the money but you’ve lost the ge­net­ics,” Nev said.

“With the clone, we’ve got two sets of the same ge­net­ics and twice the op­por­tu­nity to get calves that way.”

How­ever, the ar­rival of the clone wasn’t smooth sailing.

“When she was due in 2013, the river was com­ing up and we knew they were go­ing to be cut off due to the floods,” Nev said.

“They (ART) wanted to do a ce­sarean on the cow, so they had to get all their equip­ment and bring it out here.

“They stayed here for five days and con­ducted a ce­sarean, but be­cause it was a few weeks be­fore she was due, she wasn’t ready to feed the calf.

“So we found an­other cow to mother it.”

WHERE TO NOW?

Nev and Me­gan are look­ing to the na­tional bran­gus sale in Oc­to­ber in Rock­hamp­ton.

They will have four bulls and six heifers to sell, in­clud­ing a heifer of the cloned cow.

“It is the best team of bulls and heifers we’ve ever of­fered,” Nev said.

“The heifer out of the clone will be for sale on the Mon­day night at the Grace­mere Ho­tel.

“It is the first prog­eny out of the clone that is for sale and she’s preg tested in calf to one of our sale bulls as well, so hope­fully they will cre­ate a lit­tle bit of in­ter­est.”

PHOTO: AL­LAN REINIKKA

PAS­SION­ATE BREEDER: Nev Hansen at Oak­lands at Kalapa, just out­side of Rock­hamp­ton.

PHO­TOS: AL­LAN REINIKKA

NEW GEN­ER­A­TION: One of Oak­lands’ small­est mem­bers, a male calf.

Nev Hansen at Oak­lands with clone cow Eve at the Kalapa prop­erty just out­side of Rock­hamp­ton.

PRIZEWINNER: Nev with one of their prizewin­ning bulls, Smooth Op­er­a­tor, who enjoys a scratch ev­ery now and then.

Oak­lands’ fe­males.

Nev and Me­gan have worked hard to en­sure the tem­per­a­ment of the cat­tle is spot on.

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