The last 12 months have been a period of growth for Ben Lucas, Book Book, New South Wales, and his family.
Launching Baylen Angus in 2021, Mr Lucas and his wife currently breed commercial Angus and are developing their own Angus seedstock operation, whilst also managing his family run commercial operation based at Tarcutta in southwest NSW.
A third-generation farmer, Mr Lucas has been involved in his family’s farming business, and the Angus breed, his entire life.
“I have been involved with Angus cattle my whole life and haven’t really had a choice with my upbringing, but I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Mr Lucas said of the Angus breed, and it’s use within the various businesses he is involved in.
“I also believe they are the number one breed in Australia, if not the world, and with the consumer demand for Angus beef why would we want to change. Angus also has the widest range of genetics on the market which makes it a lot easier trying to find or breed cattle that will suit your herd.”
Considering his role in the agricultural industry and his recently launched business, Mr Lucas cited his driving objective for starting this business was his underlying passion for breeding quality cattle.
“I’ve always had a passion for breeding bulls but just never thought of going down the stud path, so we intially decided to breed some bulls from our commercial heifers and use them in our family farm operation,” said Mr Lucas.
As a matter of fact, Mr Lucas had an unconventional push into the seedstock sector.
“My wife had just given birth to our second child, Jack, and I had a couple of weeks off work. Our dog decided to take off and went missing, only to be picked up by another farmer who had a female sale coming up not far from home – so I went and picked up the dog the next day and he handed me a sale book.”
“We went to the sale, and it took me 93 lots to have a bid. We purchased two registered heifers and since then I’ve bought a couple more at a few other sales. So, our main driving objective comes back to my passion for breeding bulls and always trying to produce the right bulls that work well for us and suit our target market.”
For his developing business, Mr Lucas aims to produce yearling bulls for the commercial breeder, as well as commercial heifers pregnancy tested in calf to be offered for sale each year.
“Our herd is run under commercial conditions with no special treatment. We believe this works best for us because of the market we are targeting, which is grass finished cattle. We tend to run our cows in small mobs and that way we find them easier to handle.”
“When we are selecting genetics, we are really looking for genetics with plenty of calving ease, fertility, early maturing calves at 200 and 400-day weights and good foot/structure scores.”
Explaining the key drivers of success for their herd, Mr Lucas said, “Our main key drivers would be first and foremost getting calves on the ground and having a successful A.I. program, because we can select different bulls for different needs which that allows us to target the traits that we believe will benefit us and our clientele the most.”
From July, Mr Lucas will be seeing calves on the ground, with the primary aim to build their seedstock herd.
Looking to their long-term aspirations, the Lucas’s aim to purchase more land and further extend their business and clientele, with the ambition to one day host their own
“I hope to still be doing the same things that work for our business and hopefully I’ve moved on and tried something different for the things that haven’t worked for us,” said Mr Lucas on how he sees himself in the next five years.
“We hope to have built up a small clientele base and fingers crossed we can find ourselves a bit more dirt.”
“After listening to Simon Quilty (of Global Agritrends) speak at the GenAngus Future Leaders Program, I believe there is going to be a very bright future for all beef cattle, and I really think that if our consumers keep demanding black cattle the future in the Angus breed will be just as bright.”
In June, Mr Lucas took part in the GenAngus Future Leaders Program, a program designed to provide the opportunity for the next generation to fast-track their leadership in the beef industry.
When speaking of the program’s impact on his personal and professional development, Mr Lucas said, “I couldn’t fault it. I think it will put us in good stead, especially for those who are just starting out, and it has definitely changed the way I look at things or how I approach things, whether it be business or personal.”
Of the presentations made throughout the course of the three-day intensive workshop, Mr Lucas highlighted those that resonated with him particularly.
“The key presentation for me would have been that focused on succession planning,” he said.
“I thought Jess (Cavanagh) and Isobel (Knight) (of Proagtive) presented very well and the topic really resonates with me at this present time, because I believe having a plan in place can work but it’s always nice to get some professional advice to point you in the right direction as that allows us to think and plan our future for the generations to come.”
Mr Lucas encourages likeminded individuals to apply for the next cohort of the GenAngus Future Leaders Program.
“It’s an absolutely fantastic program. It’s a jam filled couple days, but I’d highly recommend anyone to do it, it’s very beneficial.”
Feature Image: Ben Lucas with his wife Bailey and eldest son Fletcher
By Cheyne Twist, Senior Marketing and Communications Officer