As Wangaratta beef producers gear up for February, Angus and Liezel Calder, Burrayang, are quietly confident ahead of their inaugural weaner sale.
The Milawa couple plan to sell 80 mixed-sex Hereford/Angus weaners at the steer and heifer sales in the first week of February.
The Calders started the operation on the Ovens River - which runs across 400 hectares of owned and leased land - four years ago.
"During that time we've merged a number of small properties and installed two substantial irrigation operations," Mr Calder said.
"We produce irrigated fodder and we're able to use Ovens and off-river water supply to produce forage and fodder so silage, Sudan grass and early oats."
While some silage is sold to nearby dairy farms, a portion is used for the self-replacing artificial insemination and crossbreeding beef operation for the production of Black Baldy calves.
The Calders acquired the base herd of their heifers from the 2016 dispersal sale of Ian Seidel's Buckingbong Angus operation at Narrandera, NSW, while Injemira Hereford bulls are sourced from Holbrook, NSW.
"We operate a low-stress cattle operation and the feedback we get from our buyers is that our calves are some of the quietest if not the quietest they've come across," Mr Calder said.
The March/April-drop weaned steers and heifers are faring well due to the decent spring and are set to enter irrigated pasture, supplemented with silage, ahead of the February sale.
"We have three calving intervals a year here deliberately because we run three herds, plus our heifers as well," Mr Calder said.
"We calve in late December, March and September and that suits us well because it means we don't have big bulks of young cattle floating around.
"We don't flog our cattle and we try very hard to drift feed them across paddocks."
In previous years, the Calders have sold their cattle via AuctionsPlus, but on the advice of their agent decided to send their cattle to the weaner sales due to demand for well-bred cattle.
"We've been holding back all of our heifer portion because if you look at what's happening in the livestock market, there's a growing percentage of females being killed for slaughter in Australia," Mr Calder said.
"At some stage this drought will finish, they always do, and I think females are going to be in high demand."