Oaklands Brangus talks cloning heifers and prize-winning bulls
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
PASSIONATE BREEDER: Nev Hansen at Oaklands at Kalapa, just outside of Rockhampton.
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.
Nev and Megan have worked hard to ensure the temperament of the cattle is spot on.