By Kane Chatfield, The Farm Weekly
When it comes to commercial Angus breeders, they don’t come much more passionate than Pemberton beef producer John Bendotti.
So when the Bendotti family was invited to supply the Angus heifers for this year’s Farm Weekly-WA Angus Breeders WIN 10 Angus Heifers and Rosher/Kubota utility vehicle Competition, Mr Bendotti was understandably excited and “jumped at the chance”.
“It’s a wonderful competition and a great promotion for the Angus breed,” Mr Bendotti said.
“I was hoping to get the opportunity to supply the heifers one year and the family are extremely proud and excited to be part of this year’s competition.”
The family’s trading name G & B Bendotti has grown to be synonymous with quality Angus cattle and is among the more revered commercial Angus herds in WA today. And the opportunity to win 10 of their top 2018-drop purebred unmated Angus heifers affectionately known as the ‘Pemberton Princesses’ valued at $15,400 (inc GST) shouldn’t be missed. Throw in a Kubota RTVX900G-A-AU utility vehicle worth $22,645 thanks to Rosher, Kubota Australia and Farm Weekly and the total prize value is a whopping $38,000.
And one lucky Farm Weekly subscriber is set to win it all.
Over the past 11 years the joint venture competition between WA’s biggest selling rural newspaper Farm Weekly and WA Angus Breeders, has seen more than $130,000 worth of heifers from Keysbrook, Gingin, Coolup, Wagerup, Denbarker, Esperance, Kojonup, Lake Grace, Wilga and Kalgan won by 11 lucky Farm Weekly subscribers.
WA Angus Society chairman Mark Hattingh said the competition has been a really successful partnership between Farm Weekly and Angus WA for more than a decade and it has been exciting for the breed to see the success of the competition over the years.
“As a society we certainly feel very privileged to be involved in such a long running competition with Farm Weekly and are grateful for Farm Weekly for making it possible,” Mr Hattingh said.
“It is a great competition and a win-win for everyone involved and a great promotion for our breed at a very opportune time during the springing heifer and bull selling season.
“The competition continues to grow each year in terms of the support we receive from our members and Farm Weekly, along with the entries received and this year will be no different in terms of the prize on offer.
“Again this year, the competition provides a fantastic opportunity for any person interested in Angus cattle to win some really impressive Angus heifers.
“The added bonus this year, is that the lucky recipient will also win a Kubota RTVX900G- A-AU utility vehicle to check and muster their new herd in.”
This year Rosher, in association with Kubota Australia, has come on board with the competition and in conjunction with Farm Weekly will be supplying the utility vehicle. Having been involved with the Kubota brand for more than 42 years the Rosher family know well the quality of products the company produces and are proud to be involved in providing the utility vehicle in this threeway partnership.
With three generations still actively involved among a staff of 16 in their E & MJ Rosher Pty Ltd business, Kenwick, patriarch Ted Rosher in sales, his son Cameron as managing director and Cameron’s son Paul, a qualified diesel mechanic and wife Jane working in accounts and administration theirs is truly a family business.
“We are one of two original Kubota dealers in Australia and have kept many clients happy with quality Kubota products over this time,” Cameron said.
“This utility vehicle is no exception and I have no doubt the lucky winner will be very happy with it.
“It is strong and robust and has an important safety feature of hydrostatic transmission which means it will not roll away if you pull up on a hillside.
“We believe it really is the best in its class.”
Also a family operation, John Bendotti farms with his wife Christine and brothers Peter and Stephen and their respective wives Dayle and Robyn. John and Christine’s son Jason works on the farm and while she works in the cattle industry off-farm for parts of the year, their daughter Lisa retains a strong interest in the family’s Angus cattle. The history of the Bendotti’s property and cattle herd dates back to humble beginnings. John’s late father, also named John, migrated from Italy to Australia in the early 1940s and after marrying their mother Lina, settled on a 20 hectare block north-west of Pemberton where they milked cows, grew potatoes and raised six children.
The Bendotti’s property now spans 486 hectares where they run between 250 and 260 Angus breeders, plant 73ha of potatoes annually, have almost 4500 avocado trees ranging from one to four years of age and produce 300 to 350 square bales of hay annually for mostly their own use. The family’s potatoes supply Bendotti Exporters and WA Chips in Manjimup which they own in partnership with their cousins D Bendotti & Sons.
John said the brothers effectively took control of the family farm at a young age after his father’s ill health began restricting his capacity to work on the farm.
“I have worked on the farm for 52 years, I left school at 13- years -old after dad’s first minor stroke in 1966,” he said.
“While my older brother Joe moved on to do his own thing, myself, Peter and Stephen still farm together after all these years which isn’t that common these days.”
John said the depression of the cattle market in 1973 saw the family transition from a dairy herd into beef production.
“We decided to have a clean out and sold our dairy cows and calves for $15 to $25 each,” he said.
In December 1973 the Bendottis purchased 100 fifth to sixth calving PTIC Angus cows and calves due to calve in March from Epasco Farms in Esperance costing them $80 landed on-farm. The following year they purchased another 100 PTIC Angus heifers also due to calve in March from Epasco Farms for $120 landed on-farm. All females in the Bendotti herd can be traced back to these foundation breeders through pedigree tagging and performance monitoring of the calves.
“Since the Epasco breeders, we have never purchased another female and continue to run a completely closed herd on the female side and have been breeding straight bred Angus on the place for 45 years,” John said.
“In those early stages, there was no real rhyme or reason why we went into Angus, dad was happy for us to have a go and we simply liked the black cattle.
“We ran up to 400 breeders in the nineties but the loss of lease land and diversifying into avocados saw numbers corrected to where they are today.”
The Bendottis have used sires from a number of WA seedstock breeders.
“Before anything I check a bull’s birthweight, feet and legs and temperament then I begin to look more closely at its genetics and figures, mainly for growth, intra-muscular fat, eye muscle area and milk.
“We buy three to four new bulls each year and at times up to six if required and the cost is right.
“I will go anywhere to purchase the right bull.”
The Bendottis introduced AI for the first time in 2011 over half the herd but have been AI joining the entire herd since 2015. All cows and heifers are AI mated on April 15 and backed up to the same sires for 10 to 12 weeks with calving from January 15 to March 25. All females are pregnancy tested 43 days after the bulls are taken out and any empty females are culled, regardless of age. Breeders that have had six calves are also sold with the Bendottis retaining 56 top heifers as replacements annually.
AI hit rates have been about 70 per cent in recent times but John said they are expecting to see about 80pc in next year’s calving after giving the cows selenium in December this year.
“This area is known to be deficient in selenium and a blood test on the cows showed their levels were low – I believe the selenium treatment is reflected in the improved AI hit rates,” he said.
Calves are marked in April to May where they receive a 7in1 vaccination, B12 and selenium, an oral drench and Multimin. In June, they receive their 7in1 booster and are drenched with a pour on and drenched again in August and October. The cows are also drenched at marking and again in March.
In the last week of November, all feeder weight steers, feeder weight and replacement heifers are weaned with any calves weighing more than 400 kilograms remaining on mum to be sold as milk-fed vealers. The Bendottis have been selling their cattle on AuctionsPlus (previously CALM) for the past 28 years through their livestock agent of 30 years, Colin Thexton, Independent Rural Agents, Pemberton.
When speaking on the Bendotti family’s cattle Mr Thexton firstly said he wanted to congratulate John, Peter and Stephen for being selected to supply the Angus heifers for this year’s competition.
“I have had the privilege of being involved with the Bendotti family’s Angus herd for the past 30 years,” Mr Thexton said.
“In this time John being supported by Peter, Stephen, his wife Christine and children have bred an Angus herd that is one of the best in the State and throughout the years his heifers, which are sold annually, have always topped the market and have set up numerous herds in the South West.
“John’s ability to be five years in front of the game with his skill and eye for sourcing the best genetics available and his unwavering passion and belief in the Angus breed is inspiring to all of us who know him.”
The Bendotti family is the only remaining original sale vendor at IRA’s annual Elite weaner, vealer and breeder sale over its 27-year history and has consistently featured in the topend of the market with their cattle attracting return buyers each year. This year’s sale held earlier this month was no exception for the Bendotti cattle. A large line of 77 Angus steer vealers aged nine to 11 months topped the vealer market at $1281, with the steers averaging 238.3kg dressed weight and selling for 537.6c/kg DW. Their line of 44 feeder weight steers averaging 373kg sold for 323.1c/kg and $1205. A draft of 26 specially selected 8-9mo Angus heifers recommended for breeding sold for $1090 while a draft of 12 feeder heifers weighing 332.3kg sold for $930.
The Bendottis also sold 30 cull cows for $1357 and 380.2c/kg DW at the sale (all prices on-farm without freight and curfew deductions). Mr Bendotti said he was a big advocate of AuctionsPlus and was fortunate to have Colin Thexton as his local agent.
“Colin has been working with cattle all his life, he knows our cattle and what we like – it’s important to have that trust in your agent and we appreciate everything he does for us,” he said.
“In 28 years of selling on AuctionsPlus we have never passed an animal in.
“I don’t believe in penalties, there is no freight and there is less stress on the cattle, they stay on-farm putting on weight.”
In addition to recent successes at the Brunswick and Bridgetown trade cattle shows, the Bendottis’ cattle gained national recognition competing for the first-time this year at the National Carcase Competition at Rockhampton, Queensland. Two pens of three grassfed steers aged 8-11 months entered by the Bendottis finished in first and second place in the 260-340kg dressed weight class and another pen of three lighter steers finished in third place in the 180-260kg DW mediumweight class.
They all graded in the top one per cent of Australia for MSA.
“A lot of work is put into the cattle and to see them perform so strongly against cattle from throughout Australia gives us confidence we are heading in the right direction,” Mr Bendotti said.
Mr Bendotti said his admiration for the Angus breed has evolved since they first arrived at their property.
“The advancement in the breed’s genetic efficiency is incredible,” he said.
“In 1994 our steer calves averaged 374kg compared to last year where 115 milk-fed calves averaged 445kg – after a softer start and the feed drying off in October and getting very cold, they averaged 420kg this year.
“Performance EBVs are more and more accurate with each new sire and going forward greater focus on IMF and marbling.
“Traceability is also important, to track both good and bad traits to a particular sire or bloodline and selecting and culling accordingly.”
Mr Bendotti said they were also his breed of choice for ease of management and calving and provided more marketing options with stronger MSA market compliance.
“With some breeds and breeding, you can be restricted with your outlets but the Angus has wider marketing versatility to all markets,” he said.
“To me weight is always money.
“Back in October, in 26 days the calves put on an average of 60kg with some putting on two kilograms per day even though they were 440kg calves.
“Even at 10c/kg less, a 400kg animal will make more money than a 300kg animal.
“A couple of years ago we had 109 baby beef all grade in the top level for MSA and one of the abattoir employees said he had never seen that before.
“If you have good grass and the right genetics, the cattle will perform for you.”
Farm Weekly general manager Trevor Emery said the WIN 10 Angus Heifers Competition was Farm Weekly’s longest-running competition, now spanning 12 years and Farm Weekly was pleased to again be partnering WA Angus breeders to bring the competition to its readers.
“The competition has always been about offering some of the best commercial Angus genetics from within the State and we think we have achieved this over the years, which is a credit to the breed and WA’s Angus breeders,” he said.
“This year’s offering of heifers will again not disappoint in terms of quality and knowing the herd they come from I am sure they will grow out to be fantastic breeders in the future.”
Entry coupons will be published in Farm Weekly each week for nine weeks starting today and concluding on Thursday, February 14, 2019.
Entries close with the last mail on Friday, February 22, 2019, with the prize draw taking place at the Farm Weekly office on Monday, February 25.
To be eligible to enter, readers must be an existing annual subscriber to Farm Weekly or become a new annual subscriber to Farm Weekly and they can enter as many times as they like subject to the terms and conditions of the competition, provided the entry is on an original entry coupon.
To subscribe or for more information, contact Farm Weekly on (08) 9361 5000.
Feature Image: Stephen, John, Peter & Jason Bendotti with 10 of the Bendotti’s 2018 drop unjoined Angus heifers selected for the competition