For me it is bull sale season. A few of our existing bulls are getting a bit long in the tooth so it’s time to look at replacing them and bringing in some new blood lines.
Yep, in amongst everything else going on in life I run a small Poll Hereford Stud, which I’ve had for over the last thirty-five years. I started the stud as a teenager and have bred, sold and added to over the years. All these stud cattle have registration certificates and you can track their parentage and performance. We also run commercial cattle, which is the name we give to cattle that aren’t registered. Commercial cattle can be purebred or cross breeds. We breed and use some of our own bulls, sell some to others off farm (as opposed to taking them to a sale) plus purchase and bring in new blood lines. The general rule of thumb is around one bull to thirty or so females.
For our stud cattle this means placing one bull in a paddock with the cows or heifers we want to join him with, so we know exactly who the father of the progeny is. For the commercial cattle, we’re not so concerned with who the father might be so quite often many bulls will run with many females in much larger areas.
I was hoping to get down to the National Poll Hereford Sale in Dubbo recently (over an eight hour trip one way and the show/sale is held over two days), however just couldn’t get there with work and family commitments on at the time. I still ended up with a bull though that one of the agents bought for us. I did check him out (the bull that is) on video before purchasing and now that he is home I’m very happy with him. The agent we use from Landmark knows the type of cattle we’re breeding and the type we look for and we place our trust in that.
Today Craig (my husband) and I are heading down to a couple of other sales in NSW to look for another bull. Generally it is just me that goes to these sales as we often can’t afford the time for us both to be away and when we do we prefer this to be for a family holiday. However this time we’re both going for a couple of days which will be good fun and a bit of a break from other work.
Unfortunately the southern states, and still a large portion of Queensland, are still experiencing a severe drought, which means bull prices may be lower than usual as people save the money and hold onto what they have for now. It may potentially be good for those buying, but perhaps not so good for those selling. Farming is one of those businesses that often has ups and downs. This being the case, I still seem to always pick out the expensive ones, as I want the top end bulls to maintain and improve my own herd, which are the ones that others generally like also and bid on. We will see what happens – we may or may not end up with another bull. So, I can now hear you saying….why bother going then? Well, we are going to some of the most respected studs in Australia and by going to these sales (including the National sale in Dubbo which involves many breeders) it gives me an opportunity to see what type of animals others are producing, what type of progeny certain bulls are leaving and allows me to compare this with my animals at home; plus gives me an opportunity to mingle with others and hear their opinions on what is happening across the industry.
As a breeder I know how my cattle are performing at home, what I’m wanting to influence their genetic makeup to achieve certain outcomes based on markets and performance, and therefore the type of bull I’m looking for to improve on certain traits within my herd. If I don’t come back with a bull this time I’m not too worried, as I have some good ones of my own coming through and it means I’ll have more of an excuse to go back again next year.
By Meryl Eddie, BOOBOOK Business Manager