I strongly believe that the strength of my stud is in my cows rather than my bulls as they are the true working class heroes of the operation. A bull only has to work for two months of the year where as a cow has to work for twelve months either carrying a calf inside her or feeding it and for part of the time both. Our top cows now days are mostly graded up animals as it was easier to cull a poor heifer out of a commercial cow rather than one from a purebred cow that had cost thousands of dollars. Calving as 2yr olds has built pressure into our stud system and a more moderate framed soft fleshed early maturing animal is what has evolved from this.

Running the stud alongside a large sheep operation also brings a commercial edge to the herd with the sheep taking feed priority over the cows for most parts of the year. The old cowboys were right when they said a cow’s worst enemy is a sheep! (Incidentally a sheep’s worst enemy is another sheep) We have never been afraid of importing the traits we felt we were lacking or wanted to quickly improve on. Either through AI (over 40 AI sires used) or live bulls. Lately it has been carcass traits and better milking ability that we have been chasing.

“The old cowboys were right when they said a cow’s worst enemy is a sheep!”

I try to take a balanced over all approach to breeding and recognize that improvement in one trait will have an impact, not necessarily positive, on other traits. I have benefited from having made many mistakes over the years and have witnessed plenty of what I thought at the time were show stopping heifers and young bulls “crash and burn”.

Over the last 10 years or so Brian Thomson from the Loch Lomond stud and I have been running a” gene pool” of sorts, mostly through swapping bulls and sharing semen. We both agree that whether it be the frank and honest appraisal of each other’s cattle or the opportunity of participating in a larger genetic population the benefits to each of our herds far outweighs any perceived negatives.