MOST people spend weeks planning and saving for their next big getaway to Europe, Disneyland or the Bahamas but seed stock producers hang out to see a different monument.
Their regular getaway overseas leads them on a hunt for a diamond in the rough; a new bull or donor to bring home.
Visiting international collection facilities, ranches and livestock shows is a time to broaden networks, catch up with show families, talk cows and market.
Similar to attending Sydney Royal or a heifer show, this is sometimes the only time we see these people, and the moments we experience often ignites a new drive, and establishes our goals for the next 12 months to five years.
Put all the friendships and good times aside, it is also an important part of our breeding programs at home, as we search for the 'next big thing'.
Studs are always looking for a way to set themselves apart.
Many do this by purchasing exclusive semen rights in upcoming overseas sires, by buying a female outright to flush or securing a flush in a female they fancy.
A $2000 airfare is a cheap investment to help make informed decisions when you compare it to using a lousy sire or cow, and then having to cull all the progeny.
You only have to look at the number of people taking annual trips to see this is a big area of growth.
But COVID-19 travel restrictions mean we are sitting on our couches flicking through catalogues or on the phone rather than on the ground.
How many opportunities are we missing because we weren't there looking around, or weren't told about them?
Will this only be felt by a few producers? Will it be breed specific? Or will even semen companies have less new sires coming in?
These are questions yet to be answered.
My family own females overseas and finding a sire to use in a flush is tricky enough, let alone searching for a new bull to bring into Australia.
We follow sales, identify high-selling individuals or sire groups, and talk to people but each time an email arrives with the date of breeding - there is a moment of panic.
Breeders looking to import genetics may be limited to relying on opinions, or going a year without which could have implications on their progress forward.
Semen companies have representatives in a number of countries that they hold strong relationships with and communicate with on a regular basis.
But even they still always take annual trips to ensure their product suitability to the Australian industry.
Even if new sires are introduced, breeders that have the philosophy of not using a sire unless they have physically seen the bull, or parents and progeny, may be hesitant to stray from the known.
Smaller breeds are already feeling limited with options; their new sires are simply sons of previous sires and therefore cannot be used.
With overseas operations dispersing or offering high-end females, the opportunities are there.
Hopefully any missed opportunities don't put us behind or will it make us turn to our own backyards more?