Thursday, November 30, 2023

Turning meat into money

Avatar photo
The McFadzean name is well known to farmers looking for top-quality weaners but the family is now turning its attention to producing affordable yearling bulls based on top-of-the-line genetics, as Colin Williscroft discovered.
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Johnie McFadzean is helping take a well-respected family business to the next level.

The son of Wairarapa farming stalwart John McFadzean, who has been achieving top prices at the Masterton weaner fair for about 40 years, Johnie wants to build on his father’s work that has attracted weaner prices that stack up well nationally, often the top in the country, illustrating a successful breeding programme.

The idea now is to use technology like intramuscular scanning to build on that impressive breeding history, making quality bulls that will improve the productivity of commercial herds at an affordable price.

Last year McFadzean Cattle Company held its inaugural yearling bull sale and it recently launched a newsletter, providing a quick update on the 2018-19 season ahead of the second sale, in September.

Johnie puts his interest in cattle genetics down to his father.

“Dad’s always loved cattle and taken a real interest in the genetics side of it. I just followed suit.”

John has been breeding stock in Wairarapa for more than 40 years, first at the inland Glenbrae Station then on the coastal Glenburn Station he bought in 2007.

Early in his farming career John looked at cattle performance data from Clay University in the United States where different breeds were compared over a range of attributes.

The two top performing breeds were Simmental and Angus, particularly in relation to New Zealand grass-fed conditions.

Armed with that information he bought three Simmental bulls and began 40 years of crossbreeding, something Johnie has learned from and is now adding to in his own way.

Growing up on the farm with his dad’s interests, Johnie said he was always going to like cattle.

After a two-year cadetship at Smedley in 2002-03 he went shepherding for about five years in the South Island.

They decided to call the bulls McFadzean Meat Makers because more prime meat is what they have been breeding for.

“What we are offering is bulls with exceptional genetic backgrounds, which will have a very positive effect in hill country herds while still maintaining those very important maternal traits.” They also have very good temperaments.

Johnie says the potential is there to supply a lot of bulls to other farmers.

“That would be really exciting.”

This year’s sale bulls have grown well, with an average daily weight gain of about 1.35kg from April to August. They are likely to average 600kg or more on sale day.

This year’s sale is on September 12 at 2pm at 216 Wiltons Road, Carterton.

People are also reading