Article from Central Rural Life. May 22nd, 2019
A South Canterbury Angus stud that has gone international to achieve top genetics is offering 106 bulls for sale on June 17.
Kakahu Angus has earned its reputation as one of New Zealand’s finest breeders of Angus cattle. Located between Geraldine and Fairlie, it is devoted to producing fertile, fit animals that can easily handle hill-country conditions.
The fourth generation of the Hargreaves family is now helping to run Kakahu. The stud was established in 1954 by K.H. Hargreaves, then taken over by Gerald and Sue Hargreaves. Their son, Tom, and his wife Anna are working with them to continue their innovative, science-based approach.
Tom Hargreaves said he returned to the family farm 12 years ago and as he learned more from his father, he took over more responsibility.
‘‘There’s no ego with either of us. The key for us is to have a successful business — not just for now, but for the next 30 years.’’
The Hargreaves use the latest technology in their decisionmaking. They have taken their lead from other farming sectors such as pork, poultry, and sheep that were ‘‘going incredibly well with genetic technology’’.
The beef sector could produce high carcass weights at quicker rates, from smaller cows, on the same amount of pasture. Animals could be sent to the works earlier and there would be ‘‘a great environmental impact’’, he said.
‘‘We’ve got wonderful farmers in New Zealand and a wonderful farming environment. We are the best farming country in the world if we have the genetics to go with it.’’
Genetic technology was being trialled worldwide, including by Beef + Lamb New Zealand, Mr Hargreaves said. Communication technology meant the results were more accessible to farmers, who could use it to improve their own operations.
Kakahu Angus bulls’ genetic records were readily available to prospective buyers.
‘‘We show everything about what those bulls are and what they do, in dollar value.’’
Graphs depicted where the Kakahu bulls sat within the national industry and their progeny could be tracked.
It gave buyers information beyond what they could see in the paddock, he said.
‘‘You can look into the engine room of the animal.’’
Levels of intramuscular fat, for example, were invisible to the eye.
Knowledge of genomics offered ‘‘exponential’’ gains, Mr Hargreaves said.
‘‘It’s very exciting. The accuracy is so much higher. It’s all done overseas with tens of thousands of animals.
‘‘That’s the reason we go to the United States. It has 400,000 to 500,000 registered Angus. In New Zealand and Australia there are 40,000.’’
The Hargreaves could make semen selections from a much bigger range of animals to bring back to New Zealand.
‘‘One bull affects your herd for 12 years. If you buy the wrong bull, it holds you back for 12 years. In your farming lifetime, you buy three bulls and you’re done.
‘‘You need to make educated decisions.
‘‘There are 180 Angus stud breeders in New Zealand. Of those, about 10% are taking on the technology we are using.
‘‘It’s science backed up by progeny tests.’’
Fertility was Kakahu’s ‘‘first and foremost’’ priority.
‘‘We don’t sacrifice fertility. We cull very heavily on fertility and structure.
‘‘We get an independent assessor to structurally assess all our cows.’’
As well as the Angus bulls for sale, Kakahu has 20 Charolais bulls on offer. After buying Waimate’s Centrewood Charolais Stud 13 years ago, the Hargreaves have selected for good temperament and feet plus growth and carcass attributes.