Eye candy at Kelly Angus

Kelly Angus stud manager Pat Joyce knows there’s more to a cow or a bull than meets the eye…but he also knows that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Over the past eight years, Kelly Angus has developed an impressive herd with the right balanced mix of genetics.

But there’s one core attribute that is never neglected…the look.

“Our biggest focus is that they have to have a lot of presence and look stylish,” Mr Joyce said. “They can have all the numbers in the world, but if they don’t look good no-one will buy them. People buy with their eyes first of all.”

The 850-hectare stud between Yea and Glenburn has successfully improved both looks and genetics in its herd of about 600 registered Angus cows.

This year, Mr Joyce thinks we have an outstanding group of heifers. “Our group of 150 heifers going to A.I at the start of October are some of the best heifers we’ve ever bred,” he said. “Everything has worked well; we’ve had a great season and that certainly helps but from a genetic perspective they’re standing up really well.

“We’re lucky to be in one of the safest parts of Australia for rain.”

The stud runs a fixed-time A.I program on all cows, with mainly spring calves and a small portion in autumn.

Apart from producing easy-on-the-eye cattle, Kelly Angus aims for an even blend of health and production traits.

“We’ve got to have good calving ease, followed by high growth and a really good carcase behind it, longevity, and we’ve got a lot of marbling through our herd,” Mr Joyce said.

“We want the best for our clients and to be able to turn off animals that are heavier, younger and with a good carcass merit, while not forgetting about the other traits.

“We’re trying to find a real nice, even blend.”

Mr Joyce has taken a slow and steady approach to improvements. “I’ve tried to source bulls and use a selection of our own bulls to blend and develop our breeding direction,” he said. “I’ve seen others go for single trait selection and push themselves into a corner and it fails; we’re blending and taking it a little bit slower and getting greater gains.

“We started with a good herd and have been blending and complementing them and focussing on our core criteria.”

Developing a herd that works off grass is a high priority. “At the end of the day, we need to have good looking cattle that have longevity and can do it easy off grass,” Mr Joyce said. “If they can do it off grass you can put them in any situation and they’re going to thrive.”

The stud is big on maternal values. “They have to have good milk and be able to put everything they can into their calves,” Mr Joyce added.

He’s not averse to turning bulls into steers if they’re not up to scratch.

The stud is planning its next sale in March 2021 and has sold all its bulls this year – which Mr Joyce describes as “a good problem to have”.

“We stand by what we do and back it up,” Mr Joyce said. “We wouldn’t sell anything that we wouldn’t buy. We’ve got our direction and we’re sticking to it. We can’t thank our repeat buyers and loyal clients enough. It is very rewarding to see our genetics incorporated into many herds and having a positive impact.