Damon has a long history with the Angus breed, dating back 15 years through his involvement showing cattle and participating in Angus Youth activities. As an adult he has continued his involvement in the beef cattle industry with ten years’ experience in artificial breeding.
Originally from north Queensland, Hannah is a veterinarian by trade and has a particular intertest in large animal veterinary. For the past three years she has been working in Tasmania, following her relocation from the mainland where she spent time working in the Upper Hunter region.
Based at Upper Stowport, Damon and Hannah own and run Deep Creek Cattle Services PTY LTD, a beef cattle reproduction service covering all things beef cattle reproduction and servicing producers across Tasmania and the Bass Strait Islands.
Back home on farm, Damon and Hannah run a 100% Angus heifer development program.
Their heifer development program sees them purchase the most premium Angus heifers they can find, to which they then complete two rounds of AI to proven Angus sires, pregnancy test and freeze brand to then sell annually
When asked about the establishment of their heifer development program enterprise, Damon said, “We identified early that we do not have enough land to run a cow/calf or fattening enterprise and we knew we needed to do something different to make things pay.
“The heifer development worked really well for us as we can do everything inhouse. Over the past 3 years this has been very good to us.”
When asked about who their heifer program targets, Damon explained that they look to service the market of commercial producers that want to purchase quality PTIC heifers.
“We are targeting commerc ial farmers that want access to top quality PTIC heifers. We are implementing our passion and skills from our professions to produce a complete package,” said Damon.
Located in an area of the state which sees highly intensive carry capacities, Damon and Hannah utilise cell grazing management practices for their herd, citing that in doing so, they can cut down on the expense of fodder and feeding it out if they have the ability to manage their pasturesmore effectively.
Considering the nature of their program and the fact it is centred around getting their heifers preg-tested in calf, when it comes to the management of their females leading up to, during and after their joining period, Damon and Hannah have a pivotal focus on ensuring animal health and nutrition to maximise fertility.
“We believe nutrition is crucial. It is really important to have them on a rising plain of nutrition, with lots of fibre in their diet if possible leading up to joining,” said Damon.
“It is important for us also to focus on managing animal disease that will affect fertility, particularly Pestivirus, which we are vaccinating against for the first time this year. Also important in Tasmania is a strict worm management protocol with such high stocking densities.”
When selecting genetics to be applied in their heifer program, Damon and Hannah consider the full picture, using data based Estimated Breeding Values and the animal’s pedigree, while also ensuring they are phenotypically and structurally sound. When it comes to the bulls utilised in their two round-AI programs, they go for the reliability of proven performance AI sires.
“It is really important for us to be able to deliver a reliable product to sell each year, so we place a big priority on calving ease and early gestation, but also like to have above average growth and carcase.
“It is easy to do this and have reliability in the data when we are using proven Angus AI bulls. We often have a phone call from the purchaser after the heifers have calved to tell us how easy and quickly they calved, which gives us confidence in the data,” said Damon.
With fertility key to their business model and the key drivers of production being getting more heifers in calf, the pair cull out females from their herd due to infertility, as well as low weaning weights, structure, and temperament.
Joining 75 females this year, which is a continuation of a year-on-year increase in their stock numbers, Damon and Hannah hope to be able to continue to expand their business in the future through investment in farmingand development.
Damon launched Deep Creek Cattle Services PTY LTD five years ago, citing his passion for genetics and reproduction as the driving objective for him starting the business venture. When looking to the future of his reproduction service, Damon looks to expand on his business and go from strength to strength, with the help of some good seasons and a buoyant cattle market.
“It’s been really good to see that the commercial breeder is always wanting to invest in genetics,” said Damon.
Damon’s days at GenAngus
Considering his five years at the helm of Deep Creek Cattle Services, Damon recently found himself wanting to step things up professionally and after being made aware of it from a past participant, took part in the 2022 GenAngus Future Leaders Program.
When reflecting on the experience and the benefits it provided to his professional and personal development, Damon highlighted the influence the program had on expanding his network and business skills.
“I met a lot of new contacts in the business,” he said. “I really wanted to gain some more business skills out of the program, and I did that. And there were areas that I also identified I need to be better at.”
“I couldn’t recommend the program enough. The mindset workshop (hosted by Peter Clark of 21Whispers) was really good for me. That has always been my downfall and the big thing for me was implementing change and mindset. We know that we may need to change things but now I have the skills to get it done.”
Feature Image: Damon Englund & Hannah O’Brien
By Cheyne Twist, Senior Marketing and Communications Officer