PIONEERS of the Charolais breed in Australia, the Abbott family of Mt William Charolais, Willaura, are showing no signs of slowing down their stud's genetic progress as they prepare to celebrate 50 years of stud breeding.
Following in his grandfather and stud founder Bob Barr Smith's footsteps, co-principal Rob Abbott has revisited leading European studs 50 years on from the initial voyage in the pursuit of securing the breed's best genetics and to continue the family's legacy.
"I was looking for a sire that would provide the power and punch the United Kingdom Charolais are known for in a moderate easy calving package," Rob said.
"After a ride on a quad bike through rainy Wales I was introduced to a bull I was confident could do the job.
"There was an element of nostalgia for me in this process."
Power and punch was found in Blealack Digger from Blealack of Scotland who had his first calves, by AI, born last year.
He was selected for his calving ease and boasts some of the highest ranking figures in the UK.
"We spoke with a number of cattle experts from overseas and the consensus was this bull is most suitable for our stud and the Australian market," Rob said.
"We are very pleased with the first progeny born in Australia this year; they have just been weaned and were amongst the heaviest in the drop. All calved unassisted."
The Western District stud is run by Rob and sister Sybil Abbott, who recently took the reins from their mother Anne who ran the stud for two decades.
Mt William runs 250 registered stud breeders annually and aims to sell 50 22-23 month-old bulls and 25 pregnancy-tested in-calf (PTIC) heifers in their annual on property production sale held on the second Friday in February.
Their artificial insemination program begins in late May while bulls are put over females in June for a March-April calving.
The genetic linage of the herd dates back to 1969 when Friesian and Shorthorn cows were inseminated with top Charolais sires from France and the UK.
Rob's grandfather was one of the first cattlemen to introduce the breed to Australia after seeing how well they performed in the arid regions of Mexico.
"As a teenager I remember my grandfather selling bulls in the paddock and in 1999 my mother Anne introduced an on property sale so all our clients were given the opportunity to buy our best cattle," Rob said.
While the stud is a frequent topper of carcase competitions and store sales, Rob said the best accolades were loyal clients who bought cattle year after year.
"The stud game is not an easy game, someone has to produce the bulls though," he said.
"To do our cattle industry justice we should be striving to use the best genetics possible in all breeds as this will only further our industry and position Australia as the highest quality beef producing nation in the world.
"Neither stud breeders nor commercial producers can afford to be complacent, particularly as our future growth will come from Asian countries and there is already fierce competition for these agribusiness markets."
Their hunger to progress is evident in their genetic investment which recently included the purchase of Palgrove Hannibal for $20,000 at the annual Palgrove bull sale in 2014.
At 23 months of age he had an eye muscle area of 137 square centimetres, intramuscular fat 5.5pc, rump 10, rib 7 and scrotal 41cm.
Hannibal is a polled red factor embryo transfer bull by the 2010 Agribition Grand Champion Bull PCC Sudden Impact, out of a top performing Palgrove female having produced six sons that sold to an average of $23,000.
Estimated breeding values are recorded on all stud stock as well as extensive breeding history and visual evaluations.
Rob said data collection enabled the breeding program to be tailored to market demands.
"We can get caught up in breeding the type of bulls we may like but unless we are meeting market specifications we are not progressing," he said.
"Studs need to understanding what markets want, whether it be butt shape, fat cover, softness, power, frame, easy calving polled or otherwise."
Mt William Charolais will open its gates on Day 7 of Beef Week, Monday February 2, and will display 51 sale bulls, 19 PTIC heifers as well as stud sires and females.