Tangihau bulls smash on-farm sale records

Despite the recent challenges of East Coast farming, Tangihau Angus stud’s June sale day far exceeded the studmaster’s expectations – By Jackie Harrigan.

It’s been an up and down couple of years for farmers on the North Island East Coast: lamb prices falling, hillsides coming down, costs going up… but Tangihau Angus stud was all on the up on their sale day on Monday, 24 June. 
With a clearance rate of 45 of 46 Angus bulls offered, and an average price of $21,200, the sale was by far the most successful with the highest prices of the year to date. Two bulls smashed the records for on-farm bull sales.
The excitement was palpable when Lot 2, Tangihau 22T549 was keenly bid on and sold to Turiroa/Kaharau Studs for $135,000, and then Lot 18 sold for $115,000 to Rolling Rock and Earnscleugh Studs.

Studmaster Dean McHardy said the sale was far and away more successful than he expected.
Selling 11 bulls to 15 stud buyers and clearing 45 lots showed the strength of the stud, which was established in 1949 to produce good, functional station bulls to serve the station’s large commercial cow herd.
“The bulls need to be good strong functional cattle that can perform on the steep Tangihau hills at Rere, south west of Gisborne.”
The station covers 6680 hectares and runs 1400 commercial Angus cows, calving 230-250 stud Angus cows including calving two-year heifers and 20,000 ewes.
McHardy has been at the station for 35 years and says he took the stud in a new direction 15 years ago, searching the country for the type of cattle that would work well with the Tangihau cows, but that also had a data set that he was keen to infuse the stud with.
“The bulls we produce have to look like a good East Coast bull – we have a type – and they need to be functional for the hills, but I wanted to offer a data set for each bull.  We have full genomic records for the stud cows as well.”
McHardy’s data formula includes positive calving ease, moderate birthweight EBVs, 600-day growth EBV above 90kg, finding bulls with some positive EMA (eye muscle area) and positive fats, and lifting the IMF (intramuscular fat).

A big leap forward was introducing Albert of Stern to the stud three years ago who really clicked with the Tangihau  cows and came with a very good data set.
“He was a really functional bull and ticked all of the data points that we were looking for.”
Sadly he was lost off a hillside after two matings so his progeny have scarcity value, but Dean was  pleased that they now have Albert daughters in the stud herd, and a few Albert straws as well as 100 straws retained from Lot 2 this year.
“It’s always the good ones that fall over, never the poorer bulls.
“He was a really good functional type of bull and he just crossed really well with the Tangihau cows, but we are lucky to have another crop of his sons coming through next year and he will go on in the herd through his sons and daughters.
“We also have three other sires with great data that fit the direction of the stud – our data requirements haven’t changed, we will just stick to our knitting.
“We are breeding bulls that will function and work on our Tangihau hills – we know if the bulls will work and handle the hills at Tangihau they will work for anyone.
“We need animals with positive fats, because we are too steep to feed out with tractors, so the cows pretty much have to carry their own hay bale with them, on their back and we take that off them during the winter.
“The data is really important, and tells us those bulls have the positive fat scores and the growthy genetics, but I won’t sacrifice structural soundness, feet, head and jaw or anything for data – I mean, if they are not structurally sound I won’t buy them, even if they have the good data.”
A year after they lost Albert, Albert’s mother and two other stud cows were lost down a slip during Cyclone Gabrielle, much to the studmaster’s disappointment.
The whole cow herd has had genomics done, which Dean says has become an invaluable tool when selecting heifers into the herd.
Plans for the future are to keep producing the type of bulls that have sold so well this year, and Dean says he would like to lift the numbers slightly to produce 50 each year.

Sold 45/46 lots 
Average: $21,500
Top price: Lot 2 sold for $135,000 to Turiroa/Kaharau Studs

Lot 18 sold for $115,000 to Rolling Rock and Earnscleugh Studs
Lot 3 sold for $90,000 to Oregon/Albert Hill studs
Lot 4 sold for $72,000 and
Lot 29 sold for $14,000 to Puke-nui Stud
Lot 33 sold for $55,000 to Tapiri and Elgin studs
Lot 16 sold for $28,000 to Shian Stud Angus
Lot 17 sold for $29,000 to Meadowslea Angus
Lot 15 sold for $14,500 to Orere Angus
Lot 31 sold for $12,000 to Moanaroa

Listen to Tangihau studmaster Dean McHardy on Rural Report, Radio NZ: