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So far RussellPastoral has created 4 blog entries.

All the winners from the 2019 RNA Paddock to Palate weight gain competition

Beef Central | James Nason, June 25, 2019

EVERY single one of the major winners of the 2019 RNA Paddock to Palate weight gain competition announced at Mort & Co’s Grassdale feedlot this morning are enduring severe and long-running droughts, but yet all are still managing to produce cattle that perform ‘off the scale’ at a commercial level.

Investing in high quality, market-relevant genetics is clearly a big part of the equation but plenty of old fashioned commercial know how must explain a fair degree of their success as well.

The fantastic thing about the RNA Paddock to Palate competition, according to experienced cattle producer and Mort & Co client manager Berry Reynolds, is that no matter how big or small a producer might be, it provides a platform for an even playing field for producers of any size to excel.

RNA cattle councillor Gary Noller says the competition stands up as one of the greatest benchmarking tools available, offering a wealth of information and feedback to both stud and commercial producers on the type of cattle that have genuine commercial relevance.

Palgrove has now started the 2019 competition in the strongest possible way, winning the 100 day weight gain section with a pen of purebred milk-tooth Charolais steers, which produced a phenomenal average daily gain of 3.095kg.

Russell Pastoral Company which owns Jimbour Station on the Darling Downs and Champion Station at Blackall was very close behind, with its Angus Cross recording an ADG of 3.003kg to claim second place.

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By |2020-01-10T04:34:24+00:00January 10th, 2020|news|0 Comments

RNA Paddock to Palate 2019 – overall winners

Beef Central | James Nason, August 8, 2019

The winners came from a field of 889 cattle entered across the four sections this year, the largest number of entries since 2015 according to the RNA, a strong indication of the value in which the feedback and data obtained from the competition is held even in the middle of a severe drought gripping vast tracts of eastern Australia.

The RNA Paddock to Palate competition is three-phased, comprising best aggregate weight gain; a carcase competition and an MSA eating quality competition, while the 2018/19 Wagyu Challenge is four-phased, finishing in a beef taste off judged by some of Queensland’s top chefs.

A pen of Angus cross cattle bred by Russell Pastoral Company at Champion Station near Blackall built on a strong performance in the weight gain section to finish third overall in the 100 day export class.

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By |2020-01-10T04:43:28+00:00January 10th, 2020|news|0 Comments

Paddock to Palate: Champion Station cattle live up to name

Beef Central | James Nason, June 26, 2019

IT would seem to go hand in hand that a property called Champion Station would produce champion cattle.

That has certainly been the case for the Russell Pastoral Company-owned breeding operation at Blackall, as results from the annual RNA Paddock to Palate contests attest.

Angus cross steers produced on Champion Station have consistently performed well in the years they have been entered into the competition, but this year achieved a best-ever performance.

Champion Station’s pen of six steers produced an average daily gain of 3.003/kg per day to take second place in the 100-day export category, just behind the winning Palgrove pen which produced 3.095kg per day.

While more than 30 individual steers from a range of exhibitors cracked the 3kg/day average daily gain mark, this year only the Palgrove and Champion Station entries achieved that average across their entire pens of six steers, from the 56 individual exhibitors involved.

General Manager Adam Armstrong said the company was ecstatic with the result, which, like this year’s other major winners, has come during a run of particularly challenging seasonal conditions.
An iconic Australian agricultural name

Russell Pastoral Company is a famous name in Australian agriculture, once among the largest pastoral landowners in the country, with properties spreading from Bourke and Enngonia in NSW to Cunnamulla, Roma, Dalby, Jimbour, Clermont and Blackall in Queensland.

At the peak of its scale the family-owned company produced Queensland’s largest wool clip and was the biggest grain grower on the Darling Downs.

Today the Russell Pastoral Company is still owned by the Russell family and has operations centred around two prime agricultural aggregations:

The heritage-listed homestead on Jimbour Station, which was one of the earliest stations established on the Darling Downs.

  • Jimbour Station at Jimbour on Queensland’s Darling Downs, which today comprises 4500 hectares of prime Jimbour Plain chocolate soils for cropping basalt country for grazing and fodder crops, which is used for grazing and the production of fodder. Jimbour Station runs approximately 500 high quality Angus and F1 Wagyu females for use in F1 and F2 Wagyu cattle production, and also backgrounds up to 2000 steers and cull heifers turned off from the Champion aggregation.
  • Champion Station at Blackall– Champion Station, located 60km north east of Blackall, a well-developed 55,000 hectare aggregation incorporating Harden Park, with two thirds pulled brigalow/gidyea country sown to Buffel, running into Box and Broadleaf Iron Bark forest with some desert country. The aggregation runs a breeding herd of over 4000 Angus cross cows, the basis for a constant herd of about 7500 head.

Adam Armstrong’s Lembiru Agri Pty Ltd has managed Russell Pastoral Company’s agricultural operations for the past 12 years.

Herd evolution

In 2007 when Mr Armstrong joined the company, the herd had a good quality Braford/Shorthorn base, and was renowned by lot feeders who sought them out as good performers.

But, as later maturing cattle, most of the growth benefit was enjoyed by the lot feeders, less so by the operation itself.

Mr Armstrong introduced predominantly black bulls, but also some Charolais and Droughtmaster bulls, across the Braford/Shorthorn breeding base to harness the growth potential delivered by hybrid vigour.

“We put in different breeds that had the traits we wanted to focus on, being higher margin, market desirability, fertility, growth and ability to perform in both good and tough environments,” he explained.

“Our primary emphasis was on Angus bulls to deliver the fertility, earlier maturity and access to higher margin markets, but maintaining the growth rates of the Charolais, and the Droughties for use across the maiden heifers and additional western environmental adaptability overall.

“The mix we have developed over the last 12 years has been about ensuring very high quality, highly fertile, growthy animals that perform at high levels along the whole chain.

“The feedlotter still loves them, but now all the stakeholders share the benefit”

“The feedlotter still loves them, but now all the stakeholders share the benefit.”

Mr Armstrong said the cattle are also extremely fertile, achieving branding rates in the Blackall country in the mid 80-percent range.

Turnoff strategy

The aim on Champion Station is to turn off steers at feedlot entry weights averaging around 430 to 440kg for 100 day grain feeding programs, but this year’s dry conditions meant selling much earlier at weights in the high 300kg range.

In dry years the policy is “to go hard early” and turn off young cattle at lighter weights to preserve the maximum feed base possible so that the breeder base has sufficient grass to get them through winter.

Mr Armstrong said the policy has stood the operation in good stead during the recent run of dry years.

After being forced to buy hay from as far away as Victoria during January and February, a much needed 200mm reprieve brought by Cyclone Trevor at the end of March provided relief and averted what was shaping as a desperately difficult winter this year.

Mr Armstrong said the steers that produced the 3.003kg average daily gain in this year’s Paddock to Palate weight gain section were selected from the normal run of steers produced on Champion Station.

“Those six steers were peeled off a bigger mob of steers that were going to Mort & Co,” he explained.

“We obviously draft them on type that we thought would perform, but they really were run of the mill and pretty typical of our normal turnoff.”

Thoughts on producing high performing cattle

Asked for his thoughts on producing high performing cattle, Mr Armstrong said the operation doesn’t aim to buy the most expensive bulls, but targets bloodlines that it knows perform in its specific conditions.

“We have tried a lot of different Angus lines, and have had different levels of success with their durability in that type of environment (at Blackall), but the most successful bloodlines we have had to date are Team Te Mania and Booroomooka.

“We find that as these bulls survive and do the job and produce the progeny.”

Nor could you beat the advantages provide by hybrid vigour in the western Queensland environment, he added.

“You have got to breed not only an animal that performs in a good season but one that survives and still performs in a tough one,” he said.

“And hybrid vigour is certainly something that we keep stirring that pot that helps us there.

“I think you do have to be discerning with the sire lines you are using to make sure you are really maximising the traits that you are looking for, which from our perspective are growth, fertility and adaptability to a tough environment.”

By |2020-01-10T04:43:39+00:00January 10th, 2020|news|0 Comments

The market was giving us strong signals towards the Angus type

Queensland Country Life | 29th Dec 2019

A change in breeding direction with a focus on breeding for hybrid vigour has paid off in spades for Champion Station in the Blackall district.

The property is owned by Russell Pastoral Company, which has carved its name in Australian agriculture since the 1890s. It was once among the largest pastoral landowners in the country, with properties at Bourke and Enngonia in NSW, Naroo and Clover Downs at Cunnamulla, Dalmally at Roma, Grassdale at Dalby, and in the Jimbour, Clermont and Blackall districts.

The Russell Pastoral Company is still owned by the Russell family and its operations now are centred around Champion Station and Jimbour Station on the Darling Downs.

Champion Station is a well-developed 55,000 hectare aggregation with two thirds pulled brigalow/gidyea country sown to buffel, running into box and broadleaf ironbark forest with some desert country.

According to Russell Pastoral Company’s general manager Adam Armstrong the country is ideal for breeding and finishing if the season permits.

The aggregation runs a breeding herd of over 4000 Angus cross cows giving the basis for a constant herd of about 7500 head. Mr Armstrong said they changed breeding direction from a Braford base herd and initially introduced Angus to their breeders in 2007.

“The market was giving us strong signals towards the Angus type,” he said.

“We were having fertility issues with a later maturing animals and were looking for an earlier maturing female with increased fertility that would produce an article to fit into a premium market.”

The last of the Braford bulls left Champion Station in 2011, and now they use Charolais and Angus bulls over proven cows and join Droughtmaster bulls to maiden heifers.

“Overall 65 per cent of our breeders are joined to Angus bulls and we are happy with where we are currently sitting,” he said.

“The mix we have developed over the last 12 years has been about ensuring very high quality, highly fertile, growthy animals that perform at high levels along the whole chain,” he said.

Under the day-to-day management of Jordan and Tammy Smith, who manage Champion Station, all females are joined at 3 per cent for an all year round joining, giving both autumn and spring drop calves.

“Ideally 80 per cent of the calves are branded in the first round of mustering,” Mr Armstrong said.

“And our weaning rate is in excess of 80 pc, which is a fantastic result,” he said.

Bulls are joined at two and a half years of age and normally have a life cycle of five to six years, while cows are cast for age at 10.
Jordan Smith with composite cows.

Jordan Smith with composite cows.
Champion Station delivers a taste of triumph

Russell Pastoral Company has been entering the RNA Paddock to Plate in the past few years and have never finished in the top 10 until now.

But all that changed in the 2019 results when a pen of Angus cross steers produced on Champion Station achieved a best-ever performance.

Champion Station’s pen of six steers produced an average daily gain of 3.003/kg per day to take second place in the 100-day export category, just behind the winning pen nominated by Palgrove Pastoral Co, Dalveen, which produced 3.095kg per day.

“We have an approach when we send cattle away we will keep a pen or two in line with this competition in mind,” Mr Armstrong said.

“We are ecstatic with the result, which, like this year’s other major winners, has come during a run of particularly challenging seasonal conditions.”

Depending on the season Champion Station likes to bring their steers up to 400 kilograms before selling to the feedlots.

Culled heifers are backgrounded on Jimbour Station on Darling Downs, then sold to Australian Country Choice.

By |2020-01-10T04:40:17+00:00January 6th, 2020|news|0 Comments