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Raising a family with 1000 head of cattle

FAMILY OPERATION: The Becker's passion in life surrounds their children, cattle and the land. Pictured here is Jamie and Ally Becker with their children Jack and Annabelle.
FAMILY OPERATION: The Becker's passion in life surrounds their children, cattle and the land. Pictured here is Jamie and Ally Becker with their children Jack and Annabelle. Coulton's Country Photography

WITH two kids under four, 2600 hectares and about 1000 head of cattle, it's fair to say this young couple has a bit on their plate.

But Jamie and Ally Becker wouldn't have it any other way, with a life-long passion for agriculture running through their veins.

The owners of Jamally Santa Gertrudis are located just outside Taroom at the southern end of the Dawson Valley in central Queensland.

The 33-year-olds run 400 head of santa gertrudis breeders as well as aiming to produce at least 12 stud bulls a year.

Without any staff on the property, Jack, 3, and Annabelle, 1, also get dragged out into the paddock with their mum and dad.

"We do as much as we can ourselves," Jamie said.

"We mostly have all our own machinery to do farming and earthworks.

"We also grow crops as well, earlier in the year we put in 105 hectares of oats, something to finish the steers and sale bulls on."

Jamie's family have been running the santa gertrudis breed for 25 years with his parents Geoff and Meg purchasing their first santa bull in 1994.

Jamally Santa Gertrudis was established in 2006, with the foundation herd made up of cows purchased from Gyranda, Dangarfield and Santa Park and the stud sires predominately Yarrawonga bulls.

THE PROPERTY

Just last year Jamie and Ally purchased the property Alkoomie from Jamie's parents.

Alkoomie consists of mainly brigalow and softwood scrub soils developed to improved pastures being predominantly buffel grass that relies on summer rainfall.

"It gets below zero and frosts here and it can also get up to 40 degrees," Jamie said.

"When Cyclone Debbie went through in April we got about 65mm, it was a God sent to our current season, the timing of it couldn't have been any better, wasn't too late so we could still grow some grass going into winter.

"The last few years have been dry, a number below average, we average around 24-26 inches a year and previous we were getting under 15.

STARTING OUT

Jamally sells its bulls in September at the Wandoan Santa Gertrudis Bull Sale which is part of the Big Red Santa Week. Jamie is the current president of the organisation.

"It's a hard game when you're just new starting out," he said.

"Our bulls have sold for a top of around $9500.

"We topped the Wandoan sale in 2014 selling Jamally Megatron to Celamba Santa Gertrudis stud for $8500.

"Jamally Garfield sold to Dangarfield in 2012, a larger stud and he's done the job for them.

"In 2014 we purchased a $28,000 homozygous polled bull, Moongana Merlin I2348.

"We really wanted to invest in our stud and have goals to breed the best bulls we possibly can, that in turn go out and do a good job for our clients."

IN THEIR BLOOD

Jamie and Ally both grew up in central Queensland.

Jamie finished Year 12 and started working for his parents.

"I always enjoyed going to the bull sales," he said.

"I would actively select the bulls with dad.

"When we purchased the property off mum and dad, we bought their cattle, a pure santa gertrudis herd from them as well. We're really proud to be grading some of those cows up and increasing our own stud herd - it also gives us a bit more genetic selection too."

Ally grew up in Roma before moving to Taroom, coming from a background in poll herefords.

Ally's great-grandfather founded the Lyndley Poll Hereford stud and help found the Poll Hereford society, so bull breeding is in her blood.

Ally went to Brisbane for university to become a chartered accountant before moving back to Rockhampton and meeting up with Jamie.

"We still run a few herefords to keep Ally happy," Jamie joked.

BREEDING SANTAS

Jamie and Ally place a massive emphasis upon fertility as well as growth and temperament.

"The cows are preg tested annually, any not in calf are sold and any cows that don't bring a calf to branding are also sold, this applies for all breeders," Ally said.

"Because we mainly single sire, any bulls that fail annual vet check/semen testing are also sold.

"Although Jamie has been managing Alkoomie since 2012 and making breeding decisions since we purchased it, we are focusing on shortening the mating period and ensuring heifers get in calf as early as possible and calve as two year olds.

"They are only put with the bull for 12 weeks and last year we trialled a fixed time AI program utilising fresh semen. The Jamally bulls for this year's sale have been on oats and will be vet checked and semen tested before the sale.

"They've had their vaccinations and we're busy taking photos."

"We really pride ourselves on temperament. I've always enjoyed spending time with cattle. We've always had a few we're able to give a little pat," Jamie said.

"It's something we look for when purchasing bulls too."

Jamie said while the property has had a few tough years whether wise the cattle market prices had held them in good stead.

"The pessimist in me says it's only going to last for so long," he said.

"Last year's steers off a bad season still made $1800 a head at 310kgs dressed weight PCAS/EU.

"We sold heifers too when it was really dry and they still fetched $1500 as feeders."

The Becker's sell direct to Teys at Condamine or JBS abattoirs.

LATEST TECHNOLOGY

Earlier this year Jamie attended a young breed leaders workshop in Brisbane.

"It mainly focused on genomics and the beef industry going forward," Jamie said.

"We're not registered with BREEDPLAN but it's definitely something in the back of our mind.

"We've steered away from it because often it's hard to get accurate information with a small herd, however when you're picking bulls it's a pretty useful tool though.

"It's incredible the amount of information you can get just from a hair sample.

"Technology is getting better and better all the time, it's good to go to these workshops and learn about it and be able to make your own informed decisions."

FOR A LOVE OF CATTLE

Jamie and Ally have an unbreakable passion for the beef industry.

"Our passion in life is the cattle, the country and our children and going forward we would like to buy more country and expand the herd," Ally said.

"We do the cattle work together and the kids come down to the yards and play in the sand pit.

"Hopefully our kids are interested in the industry one day."

Topics:  cattle farming jamally santa gertrudis livestock santa gertrudis santa gertrudis australia


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