HAZELDEAN is one of the most trusted names in the seedstock industry, with more than 150 years of breeding Merinos and almost 60 years supplying quality Angus genetics.
The Cooma, NSW-based stud has been owned and operated by the Litchfield family for six generations, with two generations - Jim and Libby Litchfield, and their daughter Bea and her partner Ed Bradley - currently managing the business.
The Hazeldean stud flock includes 2500 breeding ewes, run alongside a commercial flock of 9000.
Objective measurement over many years has allowed the Litchfield family to identify animals with the genetics to grow large quantities of low micron wool on a moderate body size.
Hazeldean has been using performance breeding values from their inception and as a result has been able to increase accuracy of breeding values and breeding decisions, making the end product of seedstock highly consistent and reliable.
"This makes making Hazeldean Merinos the most profitable genetic source," Bea Litchfield said.
"The more bales you can fill, with high quality wool, from lower maintenance sheep, the higher the profit.
"We love our data and objective measurements but we will always remain sheep people, holding a hard line on functionality and structure and ensuring traits such as fertility are maintained at a high level."
The depth of breeding in the Hazeldean program and consistency in bloodlines is due to many years of careful selection focusing on functional, high wool cutting, low micron, moderate sheep.
"Hazeldean has been using performance breeding values since from their inception and as a result has been able to increase accuracy of breeding values and breeding decisions, making the end product of seedstock highly consistent and reliable. We're now using DNA information to further drill down and more accurately identify individuals that will drive the program further ahead."
The stud sells its rams through two annual production sales at Hay and Cooma, and a large number of rams are sold privately from November through to March.
Hazeldean rams have proven are able to adapt to a range of climates and country, with clients from Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria, NSW and Queensland.
"Longtime clients are very positive about the genetics and what they are doing for their enterprises, with a higher wool cut per hectare and increased wool value, lifting profitability. The scale and experience of our program allows strong selection pressure to be applied which enables the program to drive forward, increasing rate of genetic gain and accuracy of selection."
WITH a large stud herd and commercial operation, the Angus program includes about 3500 breeders, producing more than 700 bulls annually. The Angus stud was established by James Litchfield (third generation) who identified the Angus breed as superior to that of the Shorthorn cattle they had previously run, Ms Litchfield said.
"Hazeldean Angus specialises in producing consistent bulls with the genetic power to benefit commercial cattle breeders through high fertility, easy calving, high growth, doability and excellent carcase, in a structurally sound and docile package," she said.
"The elite Hazeldean female results from a focus on functionality and profitability above all else, ignoring fads and trends, and applying knowledge, experience and technology towards profitable beef production.
"This is achieved through the combination of a selection regime implemented by the one family for more than 80 years, and the ability to exert intense selection pressure due to large numbers of replacement breeders put forward for analysis each year. As a result, the depth of breeding within the herd is unrivalled, and that depth of breeding is reflected in the consistency of breeding achieved by our cow herd.
"The female herd has a reputation of exceptional fertility, lower than average birth weights, and excellent calving ease, teamed with high growth and above average carcase."
Being able to produce bulls suited to a range of markets and climates has resulted in high demand for Hazeldean genetics.
Bulls are sold through four sales each year, at Cooma in May and September, Willalooka, SA, in February, and Jackson, Qld, in August.
"Hazeldean cattle are renowned as being good doing, hardy cattle that will thrive in most climates and have been sold to beef breeders from Tasmania to the Northern Territory.
"They also have a reputation of being exceptionally quiet and easy to manage.
"Temperament is highly heritable, and as it affects carcase quality, growth rate, and handling, any animal that shows bad temperament is culled."
Hazeldean clients target a range of markets, from feeder steers to saleyards.
"Many of our clients often claim top price at local sales, and Hazeldean-blood cattle are highly sought-after due to years of high performance results achieved in feedlots through to processing.
"Carcase quality is inherent in the herd and is supported through the results of the Angus Sire Benchmarking Program with Hazeldean F1023 smashing the carcase component, placing him as the highest marbling progeny tested Angus sire in Australia."