Barraba based stud Ironbark Herefords celebrated a significant milestone in August, hosting their 50th annual on property bull sale in their 90th year of breeding registered Hereford cattle.
Owned and operated by the Spencer family, the Ironbark stud herd was established in 1933 by E.L. (Ted) Spencer with progeny of KNIGHT WICK BEN (Imp.UK) to breed bulls for the Ironbark Pastoral Co. commercial cattle operation.
The Spencer family maintain a large commercial cattle operation today alongside the Ironbark stud and an 1800-head feedlot enterprise.
Current stud principal Adrian Spencer is a third generation Spencer breeding Hereford cattle at Ironbark. Adrian and wife Wendy run Ironbark with their children Isabella, Hugh and Ben. The 4th generation.
Mr Spencer is particularly proud of the fact that the Ironbark business is an operation that gets passed on through the family rather than being sold on.
“Ironbark has always been handed down and under the control of the Spencers, one of the best features of the whole thing is to see the next generation coming through and involved in the business and the industry.
“And they’re not just here, they’re driving the business forward,” Mr Spencer said of Isabella, Hugh, and Ben.
Mr Spencer is proud of the Hereford cattle the Ironbark program produces, with bulls from the 50th annual sale selling to clients all the way from central Queensland down to Tasmania.
According to Mr Spencer return clients are an integral part of the Ironbark business which demonstrates producers’ confidence in the Ironbark program.
“Return clientele is a big thing for us, there’s people who have been coming to us for over 30 years, so it’s a good reflection on the cattle,” Mr Spencer said.
The Ironbark business has grown and adapted over the years with the Spencer family using a range of tools to maintain the relevance and quality of their operation.
Breedplan EBVs and Genomic testing is used alongside stringent phenotypical assessment to ensure the quality of the cattle selected, while raw carcase data is another significant tool which is greatly assisted by the data provided by the Ironbark feedlot.
“We put our own cattle and our clients’ cattle through the feedlot, so we’re vertically integrated and also collecting a lot of data so we can show our clients where we’re going with our cattle,” Mr Spencer said.
While Mr Spencer has seen the trends in the Australian beef industry come and go, his assurance in Hereford cattle has never wavered.
“You’ve got to stick to what you know, and you’ve got to have confidence in your cattle,” Mr Spencer said.
The Spencer family’s longevity in the Hereford breed can be attributed to this confidence and their appreciation for what Hereford cattle have achieved for the family.
“Without Hereford cattle we haven’t got anything, we wouldn’t have met the people we’ve met from all around the world or own the land we do. We owe the cattle a lot,” Mr Spencer said.