This is branded content for Wahroonga Belmont Reds
Nine years ago, at Beef Australia in Rockhampton Rod Knutsen and Jane Lindner first laid eyes on the Belmont Red breed. Fast forward to today and they're moving towards establishing a pure Belmont Red herd on their 79ha property at Koumala, south of Sarina in Queensland.
After they saw the breed at Beef they purchased their first Belmont Red bull. He was delivered to Nebo and put in the yard with other young bulls.
"It was no drama separating him from these bulls and walking him to the truck, it gave us a sense of how good the breeds' temperament is," Ms Lindner said.
The bull was placed with their then predominantly Brahman and Droughtmaster breeding herd, though they've since purchased Belmont Red cows and further bulls, while phasing out their crossbreeding program.
"We've found that in addition to their great temperament, the breed can handle our coastal conditions, ticks and flies very capably. They also produce small calves that grow well. The initial bulls and cows we bought haven't looked back, they've adapted really well."
They run a fixed mating program from December through April for their 40 head breeding herd.
"We shortened the calving time so that we have reasonable numbers at one time when we're ready to sell."
Only first calf heifers receive a second chance if they preg-test empty.
"We've moved from yearling matings to joining at two years as the heifers are run with the breeder herd and get no special treatment."
This change has had a profound impact on their fertility rate with just three of their 40 breeders not producing a calf this year.
They mainly sell their pure and crossbred Belmont Red steers through the Sarina Saleyards. Their cull cows are sent to Borthwicks Mackay or Teys Rockhampton.
"It's handy as the saleyards are only 30 minutes away. We sell there on a per head basis. We occasionally send steers down to Gracemere as well. We sold our most recent mob privately as we got the same returns in hand as would have through the saleyards by taking out freight, agents commissions etc."
Due to the smaller size of their operation they're happy to purchase quality bulls, which are then sold onto friends of theirs in Sarina.
"To diversify and strengthen our Belmont Red genetics we purchased our first bull from the Sherry family, Wahroonga Belmont Reds, out of their paddock, in 2019."
Robert Sherry handpicked the bull they bought.
"He was visually appealing to us, he had balanced EBV's and was really quiet. He has grown into a nice big bull that throws good calves. The bulls we buy are backed by figures, are semen tested prior to sale, are off grass and ready to perform in the paddock.
"The Sherrys are always happy to answer our questions. It was great to be able to see their property and bulls. We're still learning about EBV's and they've really helped us understand them."
She said they'll stick with Belmont Reds for the foreseeable future.
"We're impressed with the breed. We're actually talking to Rob about buying another Wahroonga bull soon. If we had more paddocks we'd probably branch out into first-cross production with a Belmont Red base. Our new neighbour stopped in to have a look at our herd, so hopefully we've converted him."
Mr Sherry said many coastal producers are, like Ms Lindner, crossing the Belmont Red over their herd to maximise heterosis, and to produce an adapted, efficient option.
"The Belmont Red handle the tick, buffalo fly, heat and humidity in this region. Many producers that have used our bull's comment that they've adapted well and continued to thrive, but most importantly they're seeing the results of increased calving and those calves surviving which is a great benefit to their profitability," he said.
The rising stature of the Belmont Red breed will be on full display this year when the sixth annual National Belmont Red Sale takes place on Monday, September 5 at CQLX, Gracemere, in Qld.
Mr Sherry, who is also the Belmont Australia president, said the association has set high standards in the regulations to ensure that the bulls selected for the sale have passed through the associations' selection panel for temperament, breed type, structure soundness, and semen morphology testing.
"The sale bulls are fully Breedplan recorded with observed traits for growth scrotal size and carcase measurements. DNA sire verification and a horn/poll test is compulsory. The association believe this top shelf approach, and not a minimum entry to the regulations, is the bull buyers guarantee of their purchase," Mr Sherry said.
He said Wahroongas draft of 28 young bulls for the sale are progressing well despite the Isaac region staying dry until early May.
"Genetically our focus is on fertility and early age of puberty. All the bulls are from breeders that produce a weaner every year from a strict 12-week mating. Their carcase attributes see many of their EBV's ranking in the top 25 per cent. This combined with solid growth figures provide a good balanced package that is reflected in their index values. They will make a positive contribution to any herd.
This is branded content for Wahroonga Belmont Reds