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Simple yet detailed Gallagher TWR-5 aids in delicate balance of stocking rate and carrying capacity

When Wahroonga Belmont Red Stud began breeding bulls five years ago, they needed a system for their registered animals to record data for BREEDPLAN.

Perhaps just as importantly, they needed to be fully aware of individual animal performance in the commercial herd to stay on top of the delicate balance between stocking rate and carrying capacity in their often-harsh country.

Situated between Mackay and Rockhampton in Central Queensland, “Wahroonga” is 24,500 acres (nearly 9,900 hectares) of undulating iron-bark, bloodwood and blue gum forest with native grasses and 6,000 acres (2,424ha) of brigalow-softwood scrub country.

Rob and Jane Sherry turned to Belmont Reds for the breed’s high-yielding carcase, early maturity, calm temperament and suitability to the environment. The stud has 300 registered females and aims to sell 40 bulls a year, with the rest going to the feeder market around 12 months of age. The 500-head commercial herd includes Belmont-cross, Belmont-Charbray and Brahman-cross breeders.

Rob says, “We try to take some through to feeders, but because this is more breeding country than fattening country, few of them get through to fat.”

Managing feed

Being already familiar with weighing and electronic identification (WEID), having initially used a Gallagher HR4 Hand Held EID Tag Reader and Data Collector while they were sending animals to the EU, along with a Gallagher BR panel reader, the Sherrys wanted to upgrade to a system that could store a lot of traits and data.

“We also had a Gallagher 800 and it did the job well. So while the registered animals need to be BREEDPLAN recorded, I also wanted to be able to link NLIS numbers to a range of traits in the commercial herd, so I could hop on the program, bring up one animal and see its lifetime data. You need a management tool to check productivity: you need to know what they’re doing so you don’t have too many mouths on-property.”

They chose a Gallagher TWR-5 Weigh Scale, Data Collector & EID Tag Reader.

“I’d heard some good things about the TWR-5, and seen Prudence [Barwick, Former Territory Manager for Central Queensland] do a talk on it. Friends down the road just changed to one of these, so it all looked pretty good.”

Easy export via APS

With all Wahroonga’s cattle recorded on the TWR-5 Weigh Scale, Data Collector & EID Tag Reader, Rob finds it easy to export data as a spreadsheet off the APS software and forward it straight to BREEDPLAN.

“It’s so simple, so there are certainly benefits there.”

Regarding commercial cattle, if a cow has been preg-tested and the trait is recorded as in-calf but she doesn’t wean a calf, it immediately indicates an issue.

“People might say maybe it was never recorded, maybe she wasn’t in the yard, but you know to follow up."

“With the young weaners, you really need to know what they are doing: whether they’re putting weight on, and if they are, then you can work out what their animal-equivalent status is – so how much grass they’re eating, what room they need, and so on. Because if a young 250-kilogram weaner is putting on a quarter of a kilo a day, then they’re eating nearly as much as a 400kg steer just on maintenance, so there’s a big difference there. You can look at them and estimate their weight, but if you pop them over the scales then you know for sure.”

Day-to-day management

Rob says the Gallagher TWR-5 Weigh Scale, Data Collector & EID Tag Reader helps in day-to-day management because they know exactly what each of their animals is doing.

“If they’re putting on this much weight, you know you may not have enough grass in front of them, so you either need to move some, or cull some.

“So the Gallagher TWR-5 Weigh Scale & EID Tag Reader very much helps in the delicate balance between stocking rate and carrying capacity.”

“So the Gallagher TWR-5 Weigh Scale & EID Tag Reader very much helps in the delicate balance between stocking rate and carrying capacity.”