Genetics Drive Sustainability | Macka’s Australian Black Angus

Mar 4, 2024

For four generations, Macka’s Angus has been focused on sustainable farming practices and the development of their genetic program on family owned and operated farms in Port Stephens and Gloucester region on the New South Wales Mid North Coast.

The operation is managed by Bruce and Robert Mackenzie and Robert’s two sons James and Jack, along with a Corey Ireland and a dedicated pastoral team.

Robert Mackenzie with his two sons James and Jack Mackenzie 

Robert will share some of the secrets to their success when he presents `How to set new heights through the adoption of best practices and sustainable farming techniques’ at the GA 2024 Today, Tomorrow and Beyond conference in Geelong on March 18-19.

Macka’s has recently entered an exclusive partnership with Rawburn Aberdeen Angus in Scotland. This builds on continuing to invest heavily in elite genetics, based on their breeding philosophy: pedigree, phenotype and performance. This includes the 2021 purchase of Texas ICEMAN for a record-breaking $225,000 and follows a long-standing commitment to producing sustainable cattle in a sustainable farming system.

In the quest to develop their genetic program, Macka’s identified the Rawburn herd in Scotland as a leader in feed efficiency.

“We are so impressed with the work Rawburn has done in identifying, testing and selecting genetic combinations that are leading the industry in feed efficiency,” Robert said. “This, coupled with generations of maternal genetics and phenotype that suit our environment, made this partnership a must.

Robert said that feed efficiency is important for the bottom line. “If you’re feeding animals in a feedlot situation, or if they are grazing on pasture, you want them to be converting feed into weight gain. Feed efficiency is also important when converting back to how many days the animal is in the supply chain.”

In 2023 Macka’s achieved carbon neutrality naturally, testament to an ongoing commitment to sustainable farming practices as well as its genetic improvement and development.

Macka’s has been working with Genetics Australia to market ICEMAN and Robert said the bull had well and truly exceeded expectations “not only in our herd but in many operations around Australia and overseas, especially in Europe and the UK where some of the leading breeders have been using him for the second breeding season. The orders for him into the EU have doubled again this season. We’re getting great feedback from many people.”

Texas Iceman R725 making having a genetic influence at Macka’a Angus

Phenotypically, ICEMAN ticks all boxes. He is structurally sound with excellent feet and legs which combined with tremendous length of body making him so well balanced. He has a well laid in shoulder with impressive neck extension which gives him real presence and sire appeal, and boasts an outstanding head and jaw, along with a great carcass. He has width across the top which extends right down the hind leg and his skin is as soft as silk which demonstrates his easy doing ability. To top it all off his temperament is second to none which is key in our program.

Jack added that ICEMAN’s success was not just about the semen sold. “It’s what he’s done to our herd. That’s what we brought him for – to make a genetic influence in our herd. We can look at his progeny now and see the impact he has made in such a short amount of time.”

“We’re now using ICEMAN sons over commercial cows and you can see that shape and structure that he is famous for, along with his width, soft skin and easy-doing ability. We’ve been really impressed to see the consistency across his progeny.”

Macka’s runs 3,500 commercial breeders and 200 seed stock breeders and Jack says the move to carbon neutrality is “all about good farming practices”.

“It’s what we’ve been doing for generations and generations; rotational grazing, organic fertiliser, variable rate spreading, mulching, multiple grass species working together in harmony above and below the ground. In that sense we didn’t have to change a lot. We just continued what we were doing well and did it a bit better.”

Robert’s talk at the GA 2024 Today, Tomorrow and Beyond conference will highlight the importance of genetics in their drive for sustainability. “Genetics are a piece of the puzzle for best farming practices and sustainable agriculture. From paddock to plate, genetics play a massive role.

“At the end of the day, if you have the right genetics for your environment, it makes it a lot easier to tick a lot of boxes.”

Jack adds that the focus on quality and sustainability also helps the bottom line. “It costs as much and takes just as much time and effort to raise a substandard animal as it does to raise a good one. We’re putting our focus on raising quality cattle.”


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