This is branded content for Circle 8 Bulls.
IT'S one of the most well-regarded Angus breeding programs in the country, and this year more producers will get the chance to secure Circle 8 genetics through a special sale to mark 30 years of stud breeding.
The Marulan-based stud was established in 1992 after years of research by stud principal Jeremy Cooper, who had considered multiple breeds and stud programs when looking for foundation animals.
As a teenager he'd been involved in the Hereford Youth program, and whiteface cattle at the time were popular, but he decided to also write to the Angus, Murray Grey and Charolais societies to get more information on each breed.
"They all sent back promotional material - this process took about a month as it was pre email - and I liked the Angus promotional material the best, along with the fact that they were black," Mr Cooper said.
"My other thought process was that because Herefords were so popular, I would struggle to be competitive with the established studs, but also struggle to afford really good foundation cows."
The first four cows were purchased from Millah Murrah, based at Bathurst, which has become a breed and industry leading stud.
"I just knew that I wanted to breed bulls, and since then we've focused on breeding bulls that excel in key traits of economical significance."
Mr Cooper and his wife Carmen were early adopters of genomic technology, giving clients highly accurate data to help inform their breeding decisions.
"We have developed a reputation for bulls that not only look like bulls but have outstanding data backed by multiple generations of parent verified pedigrees and multiple generations of 75K HD powered EBVs (estimated breeding values)."
Prior to running an on-property sale, bulls were sold privately and offered through the former Angus show and sale at Wodonga.
There's been strong demand from the start, thanks to the focus on performance recording which has allowed the Circle 8 program to continually improve, with accurate data helping to increased genetic gain each year.
"Wodonga was our launching pad, and in last three years we exhibited there we were selling about 10 bulls each year and averaging $9000, which in today's terms would be more like $30,000," Mr Cooper said.
The couple now sells Angus and Wagyu bulls and genetics globally, with their Angus clients producing for a range of markets, from weaners to feeder steers.
"Our attitude is if you stand behind your product and put your customer's best interests at the front of mind in everything you do, offering all the information - good and bad - they can buy with confidence," Mr Cooper said.
"We give our customers the opportunity to analyse the data and invest in genetics, making their decisions based on accurate and transparent information.
"We adopted genomic technology very early when it was bloody expensive and I couldn't afford it, but I knew it was the way forward. It's not the silver bullet. Data harvest is a collective process, but once you understand the basics of a cohort and that variation is the key, you're set. Jim Leachman once told me 'data is only as powerful as the person behind the pencil'."
A big influence on his career came from the late Dr Harlan Ritchie, a beef industry guru and animal science professor at Michigan State University, who Mr Cooper studied under after receiving an Angus Australia scholarship.
"Our breeding objectives evolved as I became more educated, and MSU was a game changer for me and my breeding program," he said.
"I had a light bulb moment with Harlan, who was my genetics professor, while driving across the US, and it just all made sense.
"I asked Harlan what the cattle of the future would be like, and he said, 'the cattle of the future will be cattle that you may not like the look of, but will be the cattle that meeting the expectations of consumer demand. And if you can make the two cohesive, you will be successful'. I reflect on this light bulb moment every day of my life - it's at the core of how I think and how I run the business."
Mr Cooper continued to work on projects with Dr Ritchie after returning to Australia. The strong connection with Dr Ritchie, combined with Mr Cooper's early interest in the Merino industry, made him look at breeding in a different way.
"The family business was primarily fine wool sheep, and I'm a student of the Merino industry - I studied sheep husbandry and wool technology at high school, the precursor to wool and pastoral science at the University of NSW which is now rural science," he said.
"The great Merino flocks used line breeding to fix key traits, and we are now implementing this approach in our Angus and Wagyu herds.
"This will give us a point of difference and eventually make us outcross to most herds.
"We don't focus on the new or outcross genetics that many breeders talk about. Our goal is to make cattle that are sexy to look at and excel in the key economic traits of significance - fertility, sustainability, and eating quality."
They're all traits featuring in this year's line-up of 70 Angus bulls for the Circle 8 Bulls 30 Year Anniversary Signature Series Bull and Female Sale being held on Thursday, September 8 on-property at Tangryang from 1pm.
But even more exciting this year is the sale of the complete S-drop of females, which Mr Cooper wanted to offer as a way to give other producers the opportunity to own some of the best genetics in the breed.
"This is a unique offering no one else will do this year - it's the dispersal you have when you're not having a dispersal," he said.
"We are so confident in our program we can offer these females as we have their dams and full sisters in the stud."
The females have incredible performance records with up to six generations of parent verified pedigrees and all traits recorded. They're artificially inseminated to $160,000 bull Millah Murrah Paratrooper P15, carrying sexed pregnancies, giving buyers extra value.
"It's a huge opportunity for new and established herds to purchase females that are in the top 10 per cent of the Angus breed and have pedigrees that are validated by genomics. Buyers can also choose a female pregnancy which gives them more bang for their buck, and lets them have a slice of our 30-year breeding program."
This is branded content for Circle 8 Bulls.