Rolling goals at Willaura

Rolling goals at Willaura


Stock and Land Beef
Sam King shows off some of his Hereford cattle.

Sam King shows off some of his Hereford cattle.

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SEEDSTOCK producer Sam King attributes his family's 36 year-old Bowmont Hereford stud's success to self-benchmarking, ensuring the stud is constantly moving with the times.

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SEEDSTOCK producer Sam King attributes his family's 36 year-old Bowmont Hereford stud's success to self-benchmarking, ensuring the stud is constantly moving with the times.

Located at Tatyoon in the State's Western District, the Hereford arm of the stud has 450 registered cattle including 180 performance recorded Hereford cows.

"We have five-year rolling average goals we strive to meet for all our operations," Mr King said.

"It means if something (cropping, cattle and sheep) doesn't stack up, we look to change the way we do it, and that keeps us progressing."

The push for progress is working for the stud which, in the past 10 years, has grown from 30 to 50 bulls offered at auction annually.

Mr King said the demand for Hereford and poll Herefords in Western Victoria as seedstock producers improved carcase qualities, was hinting towards a breed resurgence.

"We've had a good market with the European grain and grass-fed cattle and as far as weight gains and temperament, those traits have favoured well," he said.

"We are chasing more extremities with carcase traits because processors need high-yielding, high-quality carcase to get premium returns so, as a breed, we need to provide that.

"What the breed has learned from the past is that we need to listen to what the market wants rather than telling the market what it needs."

He said this was achieved by seedstock breeders being more commercially focused.

"Commercial viability dictates our breeding direction because, if our commercial clients are not making progress, then neither are we," Mr King said.

"About 100 per cent of our income is from agricultural pursuits, so we have to make it work."

"If something starts to become unprofitable we change the way we do it, or do something else."

This is one of the reasons the Kings have changed calving from traditional autumn with a March-April calving to joining in spring, with a July-August calving period.

"We looked at our business and thought 'which input in the livestock enterprises was the biggest cost?' and a head of fertiliser and everything else was supplementary feeding," he said.

"We saw a different calving period as the only way to reduce this cost.

"In the past 12 months we have not had to feed hay to the cows, but with the autumn calving they would have eaten two hay sheds by now."

Mr King said a ruthless culling program encouraged fertility development and meant all heifers had to calve as a genuine two year-old or they were out.

"We want a fast maturing, heavily muscled animal so we cull anything that is not right," he said.

"Good structure and temperament is also imperative.''

The Kings' hunger to meet market demands is evident in a recent market diversification venture which will see the launch of an Angus breeding arm of the stud that has been three years in the making.

The move to include Angus females has been fast-tracked through an embryo transfer program with predominantly Landfall Angus, genetics and aims to infiltrate the black baldy female commercial market.

"We are trying to breed a female nucleus starting at the top which means getting the best genetics available and being able to access them through embryo transfer rather than buying second rate females," Mr King said.

The response has been extraordinary with the first bull sold for $20,000 to Ireland Angus, Wagga Wagga, NSW.

The third generation farmer said while he was proud of the direction the young Angus herd was heading, the Hereford stud remained a vital aspect and focus of the business.

Estimated Breeding Values (EBV) also played a role in Bowmont's sire selection which Mr King said helped when selecting for traits that were not visible, such as maternal traits including calving ease and milk production, while reinforcing visual selection with muscle and growth traits.

This year the stud has injected new poll sires, Allendale Collingwood and Guilford Global, to the stud herd which Mr King said was due to growing demand for polls.

The stud is a popular bloodline among the January weaner sale producers with many of the top Hereford pens using Bowmont bulls.

Mr King said consistency, productivity and performance was why the Bowmont brand had strengthened in the past decade.

"Our breeding objectives have never changed -- we do believe we are at the forefront of market suitability and we are not wavering from trying to supply animals that suit the market," Mr King said.

"Regardless if you are getting premiums for your livestock or if the beef market is dull, you need to be at the right end of market suitability, to constantly create demand for your product."

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