Angus ascendancy part of cycle

Earnscleugh Station owners Duncan and Amanda Campbell in their woolshed at their 37th annual bull...
Earnscleugh Station owners Duncan and Amanda Campbell in their woolshed at their 37th annual bull sale near Alexandra.
A crowd look at a big screen displaying Helmsman auction bids at the 37th annual Earnscleugh...
A crowd look at a big screen displaying Helmsman auction bids at the 37th annual Earnscleugh Station bull sale.
Compsite bull Earnscleugh 200145, Lot 3, sold for the highest price of $14,000 for the breed at...
Compsite bull Earnscleugh 200145, Lot 3, sold for the highest price of $14,000 for the breed at the 37th annual Earnscleugh Station bull sale
Angus bull Earnscleugh Mackenzie 200334, Lot 64, sold for the highest price of $18,000 for the...
Angus bull Earnscleugh Mackenzie 200334, Lot 64, sold for the highest price of $18,000 for the breed at the 37th annual Earnscleugh Station bull sale.

More than 100 bulls were on offer at the Earnscleugh Station 37th annual sale in Central Otago earlier this month. After the sale dust settled, Shawn McAvinue spent five minutes talking to station owner Duncan Campbell about the day.
Q: The weather was nice on sale day. When did the snow start to fall on your station?

On the night of the sale. I got a few calls from people at the sale who were returning home over Lindis Pass and they could hardly see anything through their windscreens.

Q: The sale seemed to go well?

Yeah, we were stoked — it was good to see most of the bulls getting a home. The averages don’t really worry me, as long as they find a home, that’s great.

Q: Were prices on par with past years?

Up on the Angus, about the same on the composite and maybe down a bit on the Herefords.

Q: Do you have a theory on why Angus are so sought-after at the moment?

Calf sales have been very strong for Angus and there’s been a lot of hype around the marbling premiums given from some of the meatworks at the moment.

Q: Why do you think demand for Herefords has softened?

It’s just the way it is at the moment. Some of it’s gone to Angus, but it was only eight years ago that prices for Angus were down and Hereford prices were up — these things go in cycles a bit.

Q: In your opening speech at the sale you mentioned introducing some interesting genetics to your herd. What sort of genetics?

The list is quite long because there is three different breeds. We have new sires in the Angus and Herefords, including two new artificial insemination sires and the bull I paid Sudeley Angus $60,000 for in 2020. At this stage they look to have bred extremely well.

In the composites, we’ve recently moved to the American Simmental Association for the data. The association’s database gives us access to buy semen from 25million cattle from around the world, across a range of breeds, and it’s pretty powerful stuff. Now I have the ability to compare my bulls against the data and pick whatever we want from those 25million animals. We have five new artificial insemination sires coming in next year, mostly from the United States.

Q: How do you think the genetics will improve your breeding programme?

People quite often say exotic cattle won’t marble but the top marbling cattle beast in the Simmental database is at plus eight and there is no Angus that high in the New Zealand database, so that’s one example of the power of the numbers they are putting through. You can get whatever trait you’re looking for. The other most exciting thing is they have ‘‘stayability’’ data — measuring the number of cows from a sire that make it to six years old. The cows can be culled for a number of reasons including fertility, structure or just not hacking it. No breeds in New Zealand have that data available at the moment.

Q: Why is stayability important?


If you are in the top 20% of data for stayability, you will get two more calves in the cow’s lifetime, when compared to the cattle with data in the bottom 20% — which economics wise is far bigger than any other trait.

Q: We reported you spending $42,000 for a bull from Limehills Herefords last month. Have you made any other big purchases this season?

This year we’ve bought an Angus bull with really good structural scores for $18,000 from Ngaputahi Station in the Manawatu.

Q: In your opening speech at the sale, you mentioned exciting times at Earnscleugh Station due to acquiring some more land.

We’ve managed to lease a block and buy a block — we’ve always been a bit short of paddock country to run young cattle. Between the two blocks is about 150ha and will allow us to double the amount of bull calves we can take through the winter to yearling stage — from about 180 bulls calves to more than 360 calves — which will make it quite exciting at selection time, because normally we would just get rid of the surplus bulls at weaning. The selection is going to be much harder for the bulls to get through, so the quality should be better.

Q: People who have visited your station might be surprised you were lacking for space.

We are lacking for space which grows green grass, especially over the winter. It’s hard to get around and it is not easy to feed out and we don’t have many paddocks to make supplement. Generally we try to run the place without feeding out much supplement.

 

 

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