ENSURING the future of rare and interesting Galloway genetics that extend over 100 years was the main driver behind a group of Tasmanian producers that recently rallied together to grow and bale a hay crop destined for a NSW Galloway stud.
Initiated by avid cattle and sheep breeder and judge Rodney Summers from Marananga Belted Galloway stud, Evandale near Launceston, Tas, who wanted to donate to drought assistance, and decided he would like to assist in maintaining the quite rare bloodlines found within the Minto Galloway stud at Yass, the project quickly grew.
Greg and Christine Stuart of Minto Galloways have been breeding their stud cattle now for 30 years and have bloodlines from Scotland that have sired numerous winners of the United Kingdom major steer competition.
"We breed the three separate Galloway breeds listed as rare in Australia inluding Galloways, Belted Galloways and White Galloways. They are true heritage breeds," Mr Stuart said.
"We maintain full-blood animals, hence the reference to unique or rare genetics. I've been importing such full-blood genetics for around 20 years and conserve very old Australian Galloway genetics.
"Interestingly I've been able to export some of those old genetics back to Scotland when there was a genetic problem there."
Mr Stuart said they have Canadian White Galloway semen that is the product of the same cow that founded both the Canadian White Galloway and Speckle Park breeds.
With semen and animals of bloodlines going right back to the start that they want to hold onto, the Stuarts have felt the continual pinch of the drought over the past 18 months which has put pressure on them maintaining their core herd.
"Originally Mr Summers wanted to dinate a B-double load of hay to help with providing us get through the drought and maintain our cattle and the bloodlines they are have," he said.
This quickly grew in a full-scale operation though with Mr Summers canvassing support from businesses and people around the Evandale area.
"He ended up with a seed merchant offering to donate seed to put in the crop, a person that works with fertiliser offering to provide the fertiliser, and the fella that does mowing and bailing offered to do it for free," Mr Stuart said.
"Then the local transport guy offered to bring the hay up for free and the Youngtown Rotary Club offering to assist with cost of transport on the boat across from Tasmania to Melbourne."
The task of planting, growing and baling the rye grass and clover hay crop was completed recently with the entire community behind it.
"The community that all got behind the task, including mowing, bailing and stacking of the hay, were quite surprised to feel they were once again coming together as a community - something they hadn't done in many years," Mr Stuart said.
"This is something they felt good about. It helped to lift moral and rediscover a sense of community."
A total of 63 8x4x3 bales were produced, with the Stuarts waiting patiently for the arrival of the hay that has been interupted due to ramp breakdowns at Burnie and the Tasmanian fires causing a back log of trucks wanting to transport goods from the southern island state.
"Last I heard they might have got on the boat this week, but I haven't heard when and if they will be arriving shortly," he said.
The Stuarts, who also run a paddock-to-plate operation whereby they market their own Galloway meat at the Captial Region Farmers Market at EPIC showgrounds every Saturday, aim to travel down to Evandale with their own meat products to meet with all the people that have supported them during this time.
"We want to fly down there and actually take some meat down and put on a barbeque to feed all the people that were involved," he said.
"Being Rotarians ourselves (with the Rotary Club of Hall), we want to take one of our flags down there and meet with their Rotary Club to exchange flags. I want to get together and meet with them all. It is a way of bringing the community together."
Galloway paddock-to-plate meat
All steers produced by the Stuarts across their 304 hectare aggregation of land are processed when they hit the 550 kilogram liveweight mark for their Galloway beef paddock to plate operation.
This year reaching the desired weight has been a challenge, so most are being processed at 450 to 460kg said Mr Stuart.
"They are not fed any grain, but they have been supplemented with hay," he said.
Steers are processed at Hilltops Abattoir at Young before they are cold freighted to the south where they are butchered by Wagga Farmgate Meats, Mangoplah.
"They butcher cuts the carcase up to the requirements, and we work next to butcher to crier vac it , weigh it and price it before it goes into our food authorised mobile coolroom and we bring it back up to Canberra for the markets," Mr Stuart said.