Scotts Angus bulls increase their clients' profitability during dry times with a breeding program that selects specifically for fertility, ease of calving, and structural soundness.
The Angus stud, run by Steven and Cindy Scott at Glen Elgin, Henty, has been in operation for over 60 years and has experienced more than a dozen droughts since its inception. The family continually seeks ways to drought-proof their business and keep production costs down.
Steven is a sixth-generation farmer who is aware of the sire lines that perform best as all cows have been identified and recorded since 1956.
"We run our registered and commercial cattle together at higher than average stocking rates and to do this we need a sustainable system that focuses on low cost of production," Steven said.
"Key to this is selecting bulls that will produce females with soundness and 'doing ability'."
This year's line of bulls at Scotts Angus includes sons of Genesis, Complement, Tour of Duty, Kingdom and Emperor.
When selecting sires, special consideration is given to structure.
"Our clients want both their bulls and cows to be able to walk freely," Steven said.
"Seasons such as these really highlight the importance of soundness as cattle have to spend more time on their feet. Prior to sale all bulls are independently assessed by vets."
In selecting sires, particular emphasis is placed on fertility and Steven says it is essential after calving that breeders are ultra-efficient in getting back in calf, and rearing that calf well.
Feed costs are also a real problem in dry times and the Scotts believe any deficiencies in the system will amplify losses.
"We put a premium on traits like positive fat and weight gain that will translate into feed conversion efficiencies," he said.
The last 18 months have been the hardest the Scotts have experienced in farming and many tough decisions had to be made. All calves were weaned at two months of age and, while maintaining them over summer and autumn was difficult, the weight gains being experienced now and the pregnancy test results of the cows have the stud back in a strong position.
"Like everyone else, the drought has tested us," Steven said.
"We've had our share of failures, but if there's one thing we do well it is to breed bulls that are tough and drought-resilient, and which will keep functioning in an equally tough environment.
"Our bulls are up to the job."