On track to ex­cel­lence

Tasmanian Country - - NEWS - KAROLIN MACGRE­GOR

GOOD man­age­ment of pas­tures and graz­ing has helped Stan and Gwenyth El­phin­stone win a beef-pro­duc­tion award.

The cou­ple, who farm at Up­per Stow­port, re­cently won the in­au­gu­ral Meat Stan­dards Aus­tralia Ex­cel­lence in Eat­ing Qual­ity progress award.

The El­phin­stones showed the big­gest im­prove­ment in their MSA grad­ing re­sults from all of the 2100 Tas­ma­nian pro­duc­ers el­i­gi­ble.

As a former dairy farmer Mr El­phin­stone knows a thing or two about grow­ing grass and this has been one of the key fac­tors in the farm’s suc­cess.

“I milked cows for 46 years so I just try to run the beef cows like that,” he said.

“I ei­ther strip graze them or have them in fairly small pad­docks and shift ev­ery two days.”

The El­phin­stones have been run­ning a breeder and fin­isher op­er­a­tion and it was some of their home-bred Charo­lais-cross cat­tle that earned them the award.

Each year they turn off up to 60 cat­tle, which are pro­cessed at Green­ham Tas­ma­nia’s Smith­ton plant.

Their cow herd in­cludes a mix­ture of breeds such as An­gus Shorthorn and more re­cently Salers.

Mr El­phin­stone likes to turn the cat­tle off at 18 to 20 months of age at a dressed weight of 250kg to 280kg.

“I don’t have a bike or a dog so they are fairly quiet.

“I like to go out and talk to them and they’ll all come up. The Charo­lais are good be­cause they have plenty of mus­cle and the butch­ers re­ally like them.”

Mr El­phin­stone said it was im­por­tant to en­sure the cows were in good con­di­tion at calv­ing and had plenty of milk.

“You don’t want them down in con­di­tion when they calve or that af­fects the calves.

“From then on I like them to have plenty of grass right through.”

Dur­ing win­ter the cat­tle are fed hay and silage as needed.

Mr El­phin­stone said they were sur­prised but happy to win the award.

Since the com­pe­ti­tion year they have down­sized their prop­erty from 137ha to 81ha.

Mr El­phin­stone said they were now de­cid­ing how many cat­tle they could fin­ish each year and would also be sell­ing some of their calves as stores.

“We’ve got a fair bit of bush on the place so I’m not sure how many we’ll be able to take right through now,” he said.

“That is the thing I en­joy, see­ing them go from calves right to pretty big cat­tle.”

Pic­ture: KAROLIN MACGRE­GOR

NEW DI­REC­TION: Former dairy farmer and now MSA progress award win­ner Stan El­phin­stone with some of his Charo­lais cross calves.

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