Russell Lethbridge

My name is Russell Lethbridge and I am operating a breeding enterprise at “Werrington”, three hours north of Hughenden, North Queensland.

“Werrington” is 2500 feet above sea level, comprising of all natural pasture in largely undeveloped open forest.  The environmental issues we deal with at “Werrington” make operating an efficient breeder enterprise challenging at the best of times.  Some of the extremes we have to deal with are 40 degree plus days in summer to minus 10 degree grass temperature in the winter with extremely low pasture protein and digestibility levels.  The grower end of our operation is carried out at “Rainmore Station” which is midway between Alpha and Tambo in Central Queensland.  “Rainmore” is comprised of developed buffel country and natural broad leaf forest grasses.

Previously we focused on a supplementation program which is essential to breeding stock in this environment.  We were spending a lot of money, time and effort on the supplementation program and receiving minimal productivity results from so called adapted cattle which we now understand had very little adaptability in them.  Our desire to find a source of genetics that were environmentally adapted led us to “Belah Valley” in 1996. Upon being introduced to the team at “Belah Valley” we found a complete package of what we were looking for in genetics that suited us.  The integrity of the operation at “Belah Valley” I found to be of the highest level in that what you see is what you get.  There are no cover ups or hidden surprises to be found.

Since introducing the “Belah Valley” genetics into the “Werrington” herd we have witnessed an improvement in temperament in an already quiet herd.  Temperament being of the up most importance here at “Werrington” given that it is a family run operation with small children working the live stock.  I am yet to see another seed stock producer with the same integrity when it comes to delivering extremely gentle cattle.

The big bonus for us has been an improvement in the consistency of fertility throughout the “Werrington” herd with only receiving supplementation.  The herd is pregnancy tested back to a 120 day joining period which is consistently producing a conception rate of between 72% and 82% through good times and bad.  Despite the selection pressure on fertility which automatically results in a moderate framed animal the turn off weight of the “Werrington” cull cows has increased slightly over the last five years which must point to the do ability of the animal.

The direction at “Belah Valley” to produce early maturing cattle by selecting for reduction in age at puberty has given us a better result in the pregnancy rates in our maiden heifers.  The early maturity of our steers gives us an animal that is a marketable item at any time up to our target turn off weight of 420kg.

Alf has continually challenged us to hold every beast accountable for producing a profitable result.  I read an article recently which stated that you should be buying bulls from someone who is running cattle like you should be.

...Russell Lethbridge, Hughenden.