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