POLL Hereford cattle have been the focus for Matt and Deb Kelley for the past 25 years and now they've taken the next step for their Warragundi stud, holding their inaugural on-property bull sale at Warragundi West, on August 24.
Over the past decade, the Currabubula producers have had success with their commercial and stud herds, excelling in the show ring and in carcase competitions, and using feedback from Meat Standards Australia grading to produce exceptionally good quality beef from the commercial cattle.
The Kelley family has also been using top quality genetics from domestic and international Poll Hereford studs to build a stud herd of almost 200 females.
Success in the show ring
Warragundi cattle have certainly made their mark in the show ring over the past three years, with outstanding results at local and royal shows.
The stud was the most successful exhibitor in the Hereford breed at the 2016 and 2017 Sydney Royal Easter Shows.
Warragundi bulls received champion ribbons in 2016 (reserve champion senior bull with Warragundi Johnny J5 and champion junior bull with Warragundi Kentucky K29), and 2017 (reserve champion junior bull with Warragundi Lohnro and reserve champion senior bull with Warragundi King of Kings).
They stepped it up this year, with the stud reaching the pinnacle of the show ring, when 25-month-old bull Warragundi Minnesota M001 received the 2018 Urquhart Trophy for the supreme beef exhibit.
The Urquhart Trophy win came after the stud dominated the Hereford feature show, which included 300 head from five states, with Minnesota winning the prestigious Canada Cup for supreme Hereford animal.
A paddock to plate focus
The Warragundi team's success in the show ring backs up years of commercial breeding, and the family's experience running vertically integrated business specialising in Hereford beef is paying off when it comes to their 800-head commercial herd, which is focused on the Meat Standards Australia (MSA) program.
Carcase and eating quality traits have been a priority for the Kelley family since they started breeding cattle.
About 400 head were processed through the MSA system last year, and the consistent results are a reflection of the commitment to breeding carcase-focused cattle in both the stud and commercial herds.
"Seeing some of that MSA indexing and marbling scores that we're getting, in the top five per cent, is pleasing," Mr Kelley said.
"It gives us a lot of confidence that we're on the right track."
That MSA feedback encouraged the Kelleys to enter beef in the fine food awards and feedlot competitions for the Sydney and Melbourne royal shows.
The business was third in carcase judging in the domestic team results and won a bronze medal in the domestic taste testing in the 2016 RAS Beef Challenge.
The Kelleys also received two bronze medals in the RAS Fine Food Awards for branded beef with a striploin steak and Hereford sausages, and won a bronze medal in the RASV Royal Melbourne Australian Food Awards competition with a striploin from a yearling Hereford steer which was in the top 5pc on the MSA index with a score of 64.9.
"With our focus on the carcase feedback and the importance to us, we will be offering purchasers of our bulls MSA royalty incentives, so for carcase feedback they can provide to us, for cattle sired by our bulls, we will be paying a royalty."
Working with Wagyus
The Kelley family has expanded its commercial operation to include Wagyu cattle, with 700 Angus heifers joined to high indexing Wagyu bulls last year.
”We’ve been intrigued by Wagyus for a long time and saw the potential to meet market demand with commercial first-cross animals, and also with fullblood high marbling and high terminal carcase index bulls.”
First on-property production sale
Warragundi bulls have been sold privately and through the Dubbo and Wodonga national show and sale for the past seven years, but the stud will offer 35 performance recorded Poll Hereford bulls, seven stud fullblood Wagyu bulls, and six semen lots.
Among the sires on offer is Urquhart Trophy winner Warragundi Minnesota M001, who has been used in the stud herd.
"We've invested heavily in genetics and we believe we've got the best line up of bulls with Breedplan performance for our sale," Mr Kelley said.