The Ensay farmer has made significant genetic investments in recent years, to build up the strength of his herd.
“If you’re going to breed the best, you’ve got to have the best genetics, and be able to feed them properly,” Mr Newcomen said.
“It’s no use feeding them well if they don’t have the right genetics, and no use having the right genetics if you’re not feeding them right.”
Mr Newcomen, who runs the stud with stud master Mat Marshall, purchased Mawarra Virginian, a $40,000 bull, in partnership a few years ago, Glendan Park Keno, a horned bull, for $65,000, two years ago, and a polled $45,000 bull, Morganvale Larkin, last year.
The stud has struggled to feed its cattle in the last 12 months, as the majority of East Gippsland endured a difficult drought.
In order to maintain quality of the herd, they had to spend a lot of money on feeding cattle hay, cubes and silage, at some points $6000 a week.
They also sent heifers on agistment, to properties in Wingeel and Romsey.
But Mr Newcomen said things are beginning to look up.
“We had good rains in November and December, and since then, a week ago, we had another 55 millimetres,” he said.
“We were green, and then the hot weather started to dry it up, but we’re bouncing back now.”
He said half of the heifers have come back from agistment, and the entire herd is beginning to improve.
“There’s not a lot of feed, but it’s good at the moment, and the cattle are improving,” he said.
They keep 70-80 heifer calves each year to contribute to their breeding program, and the same number of bull calves which they whittle down to 55, to sell at their annual bull sale the following March.
The stud will conduct its 15th annual on-property sale in March this year, a week after the Ensay Mountain Calf sales, which Mr Newcomen also sells weaners at.
“The bulls won’t be as heavy as they have been in previous years, but they’re still looking very well, and we’re very proud that we’ll be able to offer an even lineup, considering what we’ve been through,” he said.
Newcomen has participated in Stock & Land Beef Week every year since it became a registered stud 15 years ago.
“We always get a steady flow of people coming through, from most parts of cattle producing areas in Victoria, but mostly farmers from Gippsland and the north-east,” he said.
“It’s a great opportunity to show people our herd.”
Mr Newcomen has been in Herefords since the 1960s, where he ran an operation with his brother.
He said he strives to breed easy doing, performing cattle.
“We’re trying to breed good doing, meaty cattle, that will interest our buying clientele, so that they, along with us, can produce calves suitable for the calf sales,” he said.
“And hopefully those calves will go on to become good cattle for the abattoirs when they get sold.”
He said there is a lot to like about the Hereford breed.
“I like their temperament and their doing ability, they’re good doing cattle,” he said.
“They suit the area, which is where the majority of our clients come from, and perform well in feedlots, and in any environment.”
He said the use of BreedPlan has helped the breed improve.
“I’m a strong believer in BreedPlan, it’s a good guide to assist in reaching your own breeding objectives.”