Property developer and philanthropist Terry Snow may be known in the mainstream business community for his development of Canberra Airport, but he is also a passionate Hereford breeder.
That passion spills over to putting the breed front and centre at the 2023 Gold Buckle Campdraft Championships on May 17-20 hosted at his world class equestrian facility, Willinga Park, at Bawley Point, NSW.
Terry purchased his first Hereford cattle a decade ago for their docility and tractability when campdrafting but has since found they have above average weight gains off grass, Meat Standards Australia Index compliance and hit the supermarket grid specifications.
His company, Willinga Pastoral, now finishes Hereford steers on a backgrounding property at Murrumbateman, NSW, and runs purebred and Hereford cross breeding herds across nine properties in Queensland’s western downs region.
Pat Cleary, ECM Livestock, Moss Vale, NSW, oversees the procurement of stock for the Willinga Park Gold Buckle event, which is attended by hundreds of competitors and thousands of visitors from around the nation.
“Terry Snow has a particular affinity with the Hereford breed and when he came up with the concept for the campdraft, his vision was to have all Hereford cattle from the very start,” Pat said.
“We went from 500 steers four years ago to now doing the whole campdraft of nearly 2000 steers, all Hereford.
“Following the campdraft the steers go on to finish at the Snow’s family property, “Hillview”, at Murrumbateman.
“The cattle come out of the campdraft, allowed to relax for two weeks and then finish on grazing crops, achieving some amazing average daily gains of 2.4-2.7kg.”
Brett Petty manages the 2429ha acre property Hillview, rotationally grazing 3000 steers on improved pastures and 600ha of grazing cereals as a high value grass fed product for Woolworths. The property is run with 2.5 labour units and all spraying, sowing and silage making is contracted.
Pat Cleary said the Hereford steers easily met the Meat Standards Australia (MSA) eating quality specifications.
“The reason we go for a grass-fed product into a Woolworths style market is we don’t receive any more or less for the Hereford but we find they fatten quicker than other breeds, therefore are more profitable” he said.
“Ideally, we turn off the steers at 280-320kg carcase weight – we have a load go out every week of the year – and last year the steers had an overall average carcase weight of 283kg. Ninety per cent of the steers are turned off as milk tooth.
“The Herefords steers generally grade 90 per cent MSA per load.”
Willinga Pastoral secured purebred Hereford breeding females from Queensland, Red Gum Herefords, Millicent, SA, Injemira Beef Genetics, Book Book, NSW, and Inverell, NSW a year ago to quickly build numbers on Queensland property, Juandah Plains, purchased three years ago. There was also Santa Gertrudis and Angus females sourced to build numbers that are joined to Hereford sires to build a first cross breeding herd.
This complements the Willinga Pastoral aggregation of nine western downs properties in Queensland totalling 64,700ha and carrying 15,000 cattle.
The 17,000ha Juandah Plains has six staff running a base herd of 2500 Hereford females and 2500 first cross females producing purebred and Santa Gertrudis/Hereford cross progeny for either feedlot or domestic grass-fed markets.
Andrew Turvey, Willinga Pastoral general manager, Wandoan, likes the Hereford’s fertility and maternal traits as a platform for crossing with Bos indicus cattle, along with performance off grass and grain. The Herefords strengths in fertility and ability to finish enhances the areas of adapted breeds in our area that need improving. Our pregnancy test result in the second calvers this year was well into the +90% range, which is a significant profit driver.
“We have a good relationship with Coles and are custom feeding 300 heifers on grain for them now,” he said.
Willinga Pastoral at their property Juandah, Wandoan QLD is planning a big Campdraft event in September 2023, that will attract competitors from all over Australia. Show cased at this event will be Hereford and Hereford cross steers bred by Willinga Pastoral.
Australia’s premier campdraft competitor Peter Comiskey, Nebo, Qld, was crowned the Willinga Park 2023 Gold Buckle champion after backing up from four days of competition at Paradise Lagoons Campdraft, Rockhampton, Qld.
“We have been very fortunate with what Terry and his team have done at Willinga Park by taking campdrafting to another level with one line of cattle to perform on,” Peter said.
“The Hereford cattle are well handled and in terrific condition, and there is not a person on the ground unable to say they had a fair crack at the Gold Buckle.
“The Herefords lend themselves well to competition as they keep together and are quiet their minds are very calm, they are a lovely straight running beast and are a credit to the (Willinga) team.”
Willinga Pastoral engaged consultant cattle veterinarian Professor Paul Cusack to develop an animal health program at Hillview with the cattle receiving two broad spectrum drenches, two flukicides, a double dose of Pilliguard, multiple treatments of Multimin, Vitamin B12 and a lice/fly treatment.
At induction, the cattle are educated to horses to prepare them for the campdraft.
“Ten years ago, when we decided to acquire our own cattle, Brett and I wanted Herefords as they were more tractable for campdrafting and you get a beautiful big animal to finish off, that is perfectly suited to the lucrative grassfed markets post draft” Terry Snow said.
“We have continued with Herefords through all our properties, including the properties in Queensland where we have a big Hereford stand. They are going gang busters up there and we are getting a premium for feedlots for the Herefords, and the proof is in the pudding.
“The Herefords here today are a wonderful lot of cattle and fantastic to draft.”
Terry said the moderate framed Injemira blood cattle had performed particularly well on weight gain on the Queensland properties, like they do here in the south.
He and Pat Cleary work in conjunction with Injemira principal Marc Greening to source the Hereford steers from the Western Districts weaner sales at Hamilton and Casterton in January followed by the Mountain Calf Sales in March, with paddock sales also a big part in our buying schedule.
Terry and Pat also work with Queensland specialist livestock marketer John Scott to source the South Australian stock.
“There is a premium on grass fed beef and these cattle are ideal for grass fed beef, and that’s where we want to end up, particularly in Qld – we have a lot of grass and Pat and John have been able to get a premium for our calves,” Terry said.