Client-focused approach KayJay Angus’ secret to rapid growth

Wairarapa stud
KayJay calf, March 2022 – calf weighing 70% of the cow’s bodyweight.

With 65 years of genetics behind Wairarapa stud KayJay Angus delivering a client-focused approach while breeding market-specific cattle, it is no surprise the stud has seen rapid growth during the past decade.

The 590-hectare farm run by Roddy and Sam Kjestrup along with Roddy’s parents Neil and Joan Kjestrup, carries 180 to 190 registered Angus cows alongside 2100 Romney/Texel commercial ewes and 500 hoggets. All lambs and cattle are finished on-farm.

With demand growing for KJ genetics, the stud has seen some rapid growth going from selling 25 bulls in the annual on-farm two-year-old sale to now selling 40-45 bulls and 20-30 bulls as yearlings last September.

The goal is to breed an animal that will add value at every stage of its lifetime for clients and that they are able to on-sell cattle that finishers know will grow to excellent weights in a short time.

A key to the stud’s growth has been a strong client focus which has led to bulls being sold throughout New Zealand, Roddy says. “I spent a lot of time with clients, getting around the country visiting and learning from them, listening to what they are needing and what we can change within our program to help their programmes.”

“It’s been really handy getting around the farms and seeing what our cattle actually need to survive and thrive in their conditions and on their farm.”

This aspect of running the stud is “massive,” Roddy says. “There was one new client, he bought a bull last year and I visited him, and I was the first stud breeder in 30 years to visit him. I spent half a day with him going around his heifers and cows.”

“It’s huge because you can stop a problem before it starts as well at times; you can see if they’re breeding the wrong type for their country or their goals.”

Roddy is breeding moderate-framed cattle with more depth of body and muscling to the back end “with real weight-making dimensions” than most breeders as a point of difference, he says. This depth is especially targeted down through the flank and legs in addition to the ribs and overall body.

The goal is to breed an animal that will add value at every stage of its lifetime for clients and that they are able to on-sell cattle that finishers know will grow to excellent weights in a short time.

Conversely, if the client finishes them directly, they will likewise be able to achieve good gains, while cows benefit from enhanced calf-carrying capacity and more body volume to store low-energy feed.

“Deep-bodied animals weigh a lot more as well so if you are selling weaners or store cattle in the sale yards, those animals with big girths and deep bodies, they definitely weigh a lot more than a tight-girthed animal.”

KayJay Angus uses a lot of its own bulls and home-bred genetics within its herd and has not been shy when it comes to investing in genetics that enhances its programme to breed the traits and type that fits with its goals and the needs of its clients.

For the past six years, Merchiston Steakhouse has been included in its lineup of sires. Last year, the stud purchased outright rising two-year-old Meadowslea Mountain Man from Meadowslea stud from Fairlie for $92,500 which was the top price paid for a bull nationwide for that sale season.

Seller David Giddings said to the newspaper The Country that Mountain Man had fertility traits of short days to calving and top rib fat figures to match his powerful frame and came from an impeccable bloodline.

He will be used over specific bloodlines in KayJay Angus’ herd, Roddy says. “We have a lot of clients on real steep hill country so the Mountain Man bulls, a lot of his sons, the aim is to be selling those bulls into those steep hill country stations.”

Meadowslea Mountain Man will also be used to keep improving the stud’s female base, plus is seen as an excellent complement to KJ Bond which has produced plenty of successful progeny, Roddy says.

“I just felt those two bloodlines would be a perfect cross.”

© Waterford Press Ltd 2023 – Independent Print Media New Zealand

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