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The knowledge exchange
Georgia Davies has had success with showing stock. Photo: Amy Hoogenboom

The knowledge exchange

Earlier this year Angus breeder Georgia Davies took part in an exchange tour of Australian Angus studs. She is keen to prove it doesn’t matter where you come from to get into farm ownership. Sam Tennent reports.

North Canterbury’s Georgia Davies spent last summer touring Angus studs in Victoria and New South Wales, learning much along the way.

While the 23-year-old’s home farm in Oxford is only 24 hectares, it was enough to spark Georgia’s interest in agriculture.

She had always planned to head to Dunedin to study physiotherapy but the further through high school she got the more the agriculture bug took over. In 2009 she showed cattle at the Canterbury A&P Show.

Then an opportunity arose to be involved in the Sydney Royal Easter Show and her passion for showing cattle really took off.

Georgia’s parents gave her an in-calf Angus heifer, which was the start of her stud, Blackrose Angus. She heads into this mating season with five cattle to mate and dreams of expanding the herd on her own land.

In her fourth year of a Bachelor in Agricultural Science degree at Lincoln University she wanted a break before going into full-time work.

She successfully applied to Angus New Zealand’s Trans-Tasman Exchange programme.

In January this year she attended the Angus Youth National Round-Up in Armidale, New South Wales, a four-day cattle show with about 220 competitors – the NZ equivalent is Future Beef with about 70 competitors each year.

The Round-Up comprises stock judging, handling and workshops. She also visited the Tullimba research feedlot near Armidale, which included a look at the technology measuring feed efficiency and methane releases from cattle.

The Banquet Angus stud has used Kiwi genetics extensively and has a strong focus on building family lines. They have managed to produce cattle with a larger frame but that are very sound.

Georgia spent six weeks travelling around Victoria and northern NSW, looking at different farming systems while being hosted by a variety of Angus farmers.

Gilmour Pastoral in NSW is a good example of a commercial farmer using technology to improve farm efficiency.

It runs 1000 commercial Angus cows and has been a part of the Angus sire benchmarking programme since its inception, mating about 200 cattle each year by artificial insemination.

All cattle are electronically tagged and a panel reader and recording software allows smooth handling and management of stock.

The Banquet Angus stud has used Kiwi genetics extensively and has a strong focus on building family lines. They have managed to produce cattle with a larger frame but that are very sound.

She visited a variety of studs of differing breeds during the Beef Week field days in Holbrook, NSW.

An Angus bull from the Irelands Galaxy stud that she visited broke all records, selling for $117,000. The stud focuses on strengthening female lines and pedigree.

Irelands have prime examples of their efforts with many sound 13-year-old cows still producing calves.

By contrast Georgia spent a couple of days at the Rennylea stud where they focus on figures and performance. They sell more than 500 bulls a year to commercial clients who are after proven growth and carcase traits.

“Both Irelands and Rennylea helped increase my understanding of the importance of meeting client expectations.”

Between the studs Ben Nevis in Walcha, NSW, and nearby Eaglehawk, she experienced outback-style life, mustering on horseback over some incredible country and working with cows and calves through the yards.

Ben Nevis helped develop and still uses an early-weaning system. Georgia says her Angus NZ Trans-Tasman Exchange trip was an incredible experience. Back in NZ, Georgia now works for Ballance Agri-Nutrients and her biggest goal is farm ownership.