THE love of a challenge and a competitive nature has meant Bryce Whale's passion for breeding murray greys has never waned.
In his 23 years as manager of Glenliam Farm Murray Greys, situated at Glen William, near Dungog in the lower Hunter Valley, Bryce has watched the breed evolve and improve.
He has adapted with the changes and helped drive the breed forward, but his biggest accomplishment over the years wasn't the cattle he cares for, but seeing his family's involvement with the stud.
Bryce said he and his wife Diane were grateful their three daughters, Kylie, Nicole and Annika, had all found their place within the beef industry.
"The oldest daughter is now married and working on a property with her husband, the middle one is still at home working with us, and the youngest has just completed four years of ag science at Wagga and is now working in a feedlot.
"It's tremendous. I am very proud of our daughters.”
The family man said he still enjoyed the day-to-day duties of running a stud.
"It's always rewarding with genetics. You are always trying to breed that better animal,” he said. "I personally love the challenge of competing, and trying to breed that next steer or stud animal that is very competitive and can help take our breed forward.
"And for us, the ability to be able to go and compete, it gives us a week away from home to go and mix with friends and socialise, and we can see how we compare within our breed or within the industry.”
Bryce believes the grey cattle are now on the cusp of having a bigger presence in northern Australia.
"The breed is about to turn a corner I think,” he said.
"Most people are looking for alternatives to charolais in the north, and I do think we have a place as an alternative for their bos indicus herds, colour is very important to them.
"They are looking for eating quality and a bit of carcase.”
Bryce said new markets had opened up for murray greys.
Years ago, buyers wanted "murray greys as big as they could breed them”.
"That was to try and satisfy the feedlot demand,” he said.
"Those markets now probably don't exists so much for murray greys.
"We see our market now as the supermarket and the domestic trade, and I think as a breed, we do that very well.”
That demand for big cattle in the 90s has shaped the murray greys that we know today.
"Focussing on that as a breed got our cattle much bigger and we have a heavier weight for age,” he said.
"But now we are actually much more concentrated on getting the carcase right.”
Competing in the show ring is still a bonus of the job for Bryce. This year was a particularly rewarding venture for the Glenliam Farm team.
At the Royal Adelaide Show they won grand champion steer, light-weight champion carcase and won group of three competition for their murray grey steers.
"We were confident that we had a good even team, but I didn't expect to go over there and win champion steer,” he said.
Encouraging youth to participate in the beef industry is a passion of his. Bryce has run youth events for the murray grey breed and was on the committee for the Hunter Valley Beef Bonanza.
Bonanza is an accurate title for the event, as it involved 800 students, 320 cattle to be slaughtered for carcase competitions and a further 50 head of stud heifers brought in for parading.
"It was phenomenal,” he said.
"A lot of those kids were city based, and a lot of them will end up staying in agriculture.”
Although he is a staunch supporter for the murray greys, Bryce shows no bias when it came to welcoming young people into the industry.
"I personally think the breed society divisions, and breed divisions, is one of the negative things of the industry,” he said.
"I think we are a beef industry, and we need to work together, rather than as individual breeds.
"Other breeds are not our competition - it's white meat and other protein sources that are our competition.”
At the moment there were more positions available in agriculture then there were graduates from courses, he said.
"Agriculture has got so much more technical and there are so many positions available,” he said.
"It's an industry where kids can train and there is a job waiting for them when they conclude university.”
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