Australian Hereford breeders were given a glimpse into how the high-end achievers in the US run their cow herds during a tour of Montana.
A group of eight Australian breeders were sponsored by the Montana Department of Agriculture on a six-day tour on March 12-17 of stud operations and major bull sales.
The stop-overs included Thomas Herefords, Gold Creek; Holden Herefords, Valier; Cooper Herefords, Willow Creek; Churchill Cattle, Manhatten and L Bar W Cattle Company, Absarokee.
Visitors were able to see first-hand Lot 5107C sell at the Holden stud sale for US$160,000 to Flying S Herefords, Texas. A total of 147 bulls averaged US$11,850.
Australian participants were Richard and Sue Webb, Scott Lewington, Tom Nixon, John Schulz, Mike and Belinda Norton, and James Cullis.
NSW stud breeder Sue Webb, Attunga, said the tour experienced high-end achievers producing great cattle under extreme conditions.
Despite snow at the first ranch, Thomas Herefords, the tour group watched yearling heifers and calves cows supplemented with chopped hay.
Mrs Webb said Australian breeders were interested in the cattle management and breeding programs.
“The melted snow, rainfall (300mm a year) and centre pivot irrigation enables (Thomas Herefords) to grow sufficient hay for the winter,’’ she said.
The tour group was impressed by the level of embryo flushing and IVF programs undertaken by the larger studs.
“The Line One Breeding Group has perfected their herds through selection over the past 70 years of closed breeding amongst themselves,’’ Mrs Webb said.
“Culling undesirable traits, they appear to have achieved an even line of cattle.
“The bulls were sought after with top prices of $80,000-$160,000.
“Montana was a stronghold for Herefords as the breed do better in the colder climate and mountainous terrain.’’
Mrs Webb said high prices for slaughter stock had translated into strong demand for breeding stock, including the sale of a donor dam for US$35,000 during the tour.