Holbrook, NSW, Poll Hereford stud Ravensdale has taken out this year’s RASV Heifer Challenge, after what principal Brian Burgess said was incremental improvements in his herd over many years.
Mr Burgess said he always felt he had a winning pen of heifers, after the stud was a finalist in last year’s challenge.
“Year by year, we have been about incremental gains in phenotype, performance and genetic gains,” Mr Burgess said.
“They were better animals than we had last year.
“They were such an even line of heifers, which presented very well, and I had a good feeling about them.”
He said the 10 heifers came from five different sires.
“The win is quite significant, as we have slowly chipped away at success,” he said.
“I think it is significant recognition of the quality of our female herd.”
Mr Burgess said the stud made the decision to destock significantly in August, but then experienced good conditions, after rain fell in November and December.
“We lightened off and managed to cut a reasonable amount of hay and grain, while we also had good feed on the ground,” he said.
“Winning the Heifer Challenge is a great honour, and with the calibre of other stud operations of all breeds, it vindicates our philosophy to strive to be the very best.
“It really does focus me and the team at Ravensdale to strive even further to reach perfection in our cattle breeding program.
“It’s finally paid off, as our bulls are well recognised in the market place and selling well.”
Last year, the stud achieved the top price of $32,000 at the Herefords Australia National sale, Dubbo, NSW, when it sold Ravensdale Guardian M222.
Judge, Dean Afford, SA, said it was pleasantly gratifying to find the high standard of cattle presented, particularly under the extremely dry seasonal conditions in the north and east.
“It’s got to come back to management, as much as anything; producers have taken the time to look after their animals,” Mr Afford said.
He said the Ravensdale heifers were very well presented, quite correct and true to breed type.
“The female sector of the herd is the engine room; without females you don’t have bulls and if you haven’t got good females, you don’t get good bulls,” he said.
“Overall, it’s not so much breed against breed, as a matter of breeder against breeder.”
Mr Afford said there was little to split the top three contestants in this year’s competition.
“These heifers generally displayed structural correctness, with good muscling according to breed type without being over muscled and losing femininity,” Mr Afford said.
He visited 36 properties, travelling 5000 kilometres, throughout Victoria and southern NSW.
Five breeds were represented among the 10 finalists of the competition.
The reserve champion was awarded to Boonaroo Angus, Corndale, a previous dual winner.
Finalists will be invited to a function, hosted by RASV, during the 2019 Royal Melbourne Show.
Melville Park Herefords
Mount Major Murray Grey
Sugarloaf Creek Herefords