Biddles Angus Beef Farm

August 2009

An award winning supplier of Angus Beef from the Pouto Peninsula

The Biddles’ are founding suppliers to the Angus Pure branded beef programme and have featured in the Steak of Origin national beef competition for several years (award list below) as well as building their annual yearling bull sale (2008 64 sold av price $2200) into one of the biggest in the country, and they run some 2000 registered and non-registered Angus-base cattle, including bulls, cows and progeny.

Chris is a founding director of Angus Pure beef branding scheme, a committee member of the Angus Society and chairman of Performance Beef Breeders, the bureau for several breed societies in Feilding. He is very active off-farm, including sports administration in Northland, and a passionate believer in prime beef industry development, especially branded beef to improve the share of the retail price going back to the producer.

Te Atarangi is 1000ha, including 550ha effective home farm and 250ha effective leased farm alongside. It is located on the western coast (Tasman Sea) of the Pouto peninsula, which is only 4kms wide at that point. With a three-kilometre west-to-east span, the farm now has seven sets of yards and a bull selling ring. It has sandy-based soils, with some peaty areas. The pastures are kikuyu dominant and the district enjoys winter pasture growth, which is a regional advantage for Northland compared with other parts of New Zealand.

Te Atarangi has an extensive cropping and pasture renewal programme, sowing chicory, plantain and Extreme ryegrass and clover with a Cross-Slot (no-tillage) drill. More than 50ha is done annually. Some 400ha of flatter, peaty areas covering about 80ha have been broken into zones called Allocated Stocking Areas (ASAs) where paddocks are divided and stocking rates adjusted to achieve 38-day rotations on two-day shifts.

Te Atarangi is just introducing electronic ID, with EID ear tags and readers which are connected to weigh scales and data terminals.

Beef production on Te Atarangi is now 300kg/ha annually, which is an improvement on 200kg before the farm became a Meat & Wool Monitor Farm for Northland. The increase was credited to greater stock numbers because of more subdivision, water reticulation and regressing. The property (800ha effective) now carries 200 registered Angus cows and 300 commercial crossbred cows.

The composition of the commercial herd is now about half Angus-Jersey cross, the rest Angus x Angus-Jersey, Angus-Hereford cross, Friesian-Angus cross and Friesian-Hereford cross.

Te Atarangi specializes in producing yearling Angus bulls for use by dairy farmers over dairy cows. One long-time customer is Whangarei Heads dairy farmer Murray Jaggers, who has a Jersey herd, and Chris Biddles then buys back to the Angus-Jersey heifers for his commercial herd. This is not a popular cross for beef production, but Chris says they suit his farm environment and pasture growth curve very well. Chris wanted to specialise in Hereford Jersey-cross in the past, but was unable to secure a reliable supply of the heifers. His reasons for wanting the commercial herd based on Angus Jersey-cross are summed up in two words – efficiency and fertility as the keys to profitability.

“On this sandy country I don’t want big breeding cows, and they have to get back in calf, producing good finishing calves,” Chris said.

All calves from the commercial cows are kept on the farm, either as replacements or for finishing. The efficiency of weight of calves weaned per live weight of cows is high, because the Angus-Jersey crossbred heifers are 400kg LW at the weaning of their first calves and a mature crossbred cow is under 500kg.

Three-quarter Angus heifer progeny go to the local trade between 20 and 27 months of age and steers between 24 and 28 months, perhaps weighing 270-290kg CW at 24 months.

“In future we will be aiming for more growth in winter, which is a Northland west coast speciality, to make the most opportunity of the better beef prices before summer,” Chris said.

All cows and heifers are spring-mated for just two cycles, 42 days, and then vetted so that those not in calf go to slaughter, along with the cull cows, by January. 42 days is a short mating period, which some farmers would criticize as being too tough on cows which don’t get pregnant. But Chris said emphasis must be maintained on fertility levels in the Angus breed.

Te Atarangi had beef from nine carcases among 50+ semi-finalists in different classes of the 2009 Steak of Origin competition. Those carcases from 50+ farms were selected by sheer force testing by Lincoln University from 350 entries. Most other entrants only had one, or at the most two or three carcases make it through to semi-finals. When 20 final placings were announced, Te Atarangi had gained five places, which was 25% of all the awards made.

2009 Success

• 9 Angus or Angus-cross cattle in semi-finals

• 25% of finalists

• Second place Best of British

• Third place Best of Crossbred

• Second place Best of Brand, Retail (Neat Meat)

• First and Third Place Best of Brand, Foodservice (Neat Meat)


• Second place, Best of Brand


• Steak of Origin supreme winner and Best of British


• Third place Best of Crossbred, with Angus-Jersey heifer.