Charolais growing in popularity

Katrina and Fergus Templeton, of Twin Rivers Charolais, pictured with their three daughters (from...
Katrina and Fergus Templeton, of Twin Rivers Charolais, pictured with their three daughters (from left) Anna, Libby and Emma, are seeing an increase in demand for the exotic cattle breed. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Charolais bull breeders Fergus and Katrina Templeton do not mind their phones ringing more often these days as an increasing number of beef and dairy farmers are seeing the positives of using a Charolais breed in their farming system.

The exotic French beef breed is known for its fast growth curve and the dominant white colour means the cows will throw striking progeny of a single colour.

Their Twin Rivers stud is located in Tokanui. They run 2700 ewes, 800 hoggets, 40 heifers and 180 mixed aged cows which includes 130 Charolais stud cows across 800ha.

Rugby is a major part of Mr Templeton’s life and when he found himself injured and potentially unable to play again, he decided he might need to find a new hobby.

Starting a Charolais stud seemed to fit the bill.

"I bought 13 stud cows from a dispersal sale in Palmerston North and was mentored by a guy called Rusty McIntyre, a well-respected identity in the breed."

As it turned out, Mr Templeton carried on with his rugby for a few more years and the stud has continued to gain momentum.

This year the couple has 40 Charolais bulls up for sale, the top two bulls as well as a unique red Charolais sire will be auctioned live this evening on Bidr and the remaining sold privately over the next month or so.

Using Bidr is a first for their stud sales.

"We’re seeing a strong level of interest from more people looking for a terminal sire and wanting to get cattle finished after one winter as 15-month-olds rather than taking them through two winters before they are up to weight," he said.

Regulatory and environmental pressure on farmers also meant there was a desire to have cattle finished as quickly as possible to keep their environmental footprint as low as possible without affecting their bottom line.

And with the ban on live exports now in place, Mr Templeton believed farmers of traditional beef breeds whose market was supplying those breeding heifers into China were now revising their breeding plan and adding a terminal system.

"Running a B mob of anything off-type or older with a Charolais seems to be gaining momentum."

Dairy farmers were also looking at Charolais as the new beef breed as the calves are quick to grow and easy to sell.

"I have a dairy farming client with 1200 cows who now uses a Charolais over all of his cows.

The hybrid vigour of the calves meant they get to 100kg quickly where his client would sell them at a premium.

"It is an intensive calving time for him as he keeps a good eye on every cow as it calves but it pays off out the other side."

Despite the optimism ahead, running a stud certainly had not been an easy road, Mr Templeton said.

"We have learnt a lot and had our fair share of challenges."

While seeing a big sappy Charolais calf in the paddock is one of the highlights for any farmer that chooses the breed, for the stud breeder, the feed demand of the Charolais cow is a lot higher than the traditional breeds.

By Alice Scott