How did you become interested in cattle?
Our family had always run a small commercial beef herd, so cattle had always been a part of my growing up. As a primary school kid, I would make the yearly pilgrimage to Wayville for the SA Junior Heifer Expo. This became a big part of my life from the age of 8, right up until my early 20’s, when I was lucky enough to win the Senior Herdsman competition, which enabled me to work and travel in Canada and the US.
It was always going to be Angus. The breed stands out as possessing both maternal and carcase qualities. As time has gone by, this has proven to be the case more and more. The development of Angus breed brands such as Angus Pure and CAAB is testament to this.
What did winning the Senior Herdsman Beef Scholarship mean?
At the time it was a big thrill. It gave me the opportunity to travel overseas and study the way the best Angus stud producers in both the US and Canada go about their business. It also proved to be a great networking exercise, as some of the people that I got to know well on that first trip are the same people that we do business with today and where I look for the next great Sire Reference. Our herd has also been based on a number of imported embryos from those days.
What were some of the key things you learnt from your time in the US & Canada?
One of the key things the trip taught me from talking to producers over there was that customer service is paramount. It is something we have focussed on ever since, and I have been proud of how many repeat customers we have that support us annually at the auction and privately from the paddock. Clients from the though northern areas, that keep coming back because our bulls outlast others are particularly pleasing
The North Americans are also fantastic at marketing their product, and it was a real eye opener talking to many of them about different things they do to promote their programs/upcoming bull sales etc. But in the end just as here, the quality of the product is No. 1.
It was also drummed into me by a number of producers the importance of data collection. Although phenotype is obviously still important, collection and submission of data for performance recording helps commercial producers make better informed decisions, and helps us as stud breeders hone in on areas that can be improved in our herds.
What is your breeding philosophy?
Ever since the inception of Stoney Point, there have been a number of key areas that have been non negotiable in the way we go about breeding cattle.
One of the most important areas for me has been structure, so we have always focused very heavily on cattle that have a strong base that way. After all, it is hard for your cows to last to an old age o poor feet and legs.
Growing up in an area surrounded by Dairy’s, I have always been an advocate of udder quality and believe we have an extremely good group of cows because of this.
Another non negotiable is fertility. We have always been hard on cows fertility, by way of culling open cows, but also working our cows extremely hard to push them to the limit. This has seen us gain great results and we have heard of this filtering through into commercial herds using our genetics.
Having spent a fair bit of time in the show ring as a kid, I have always appreciated cattle with strong phenotype, so this is something we have strived for. I feel we have proven that it is possible to have cattle that are strong on data, yet have great type to them. This is important as there are still a lot of people who sell their cattle through yards and invariably the better “type” cattle make the money.
I have also tried hard to breed cattle with some natural thickness and constitution to them. I have always believed that cattle with natural shape are a lot quicker to finish than those without, and as seasonal variabilities prove more challenging all the time, cattle with constitution are the ones that cope through the tough time the best and bounce back in the good seasons quicker.
Tell us a little bit about your family
I am one of 4 children, with 3 sisters. I am married to Rebeka and have 2 children, Lewis, aged 5, and Lila, aged 2.
What interests away from work do you have?
Our family has always bred thoroughbreds, so I love racing, not so much for the punt, but purely for the racing itself and the will of winning. In fact one of my greatest thrills was being on course to see So You Think win his second Cox Plate. I follow sports particularly football and soccer. Any spare time I have I like to spend with Bek and the kids, and catching up with friends.