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Family's drive to see murray grey cattle thrive

EXCELLENT TEAM: Wallawong Murray Grey owners Kate and Lachlan James describe running their stud as hard work but a very rewarding business.
EXCELLENT TEAM: Wallawong Murray Grey owners Kate and Lachlan James describe running their stud as hard work but a very rewarding business. Contributed

LACHLAN James started to build the foundations of Wallawong Murray Greys when he was a teenager.

It was 1990, he was only 15 and bought himself a murray grey cow.

From there, he purchased more Class A cattle from dispersal sales and slowly grew his humble herd.

Being a man of vision at a young age placed him in good stead, as today breeding murray greys is his family's livelihood.

Wallawong Murray Greys currently runs about 150 head of breeders, has sold bulls to every state in Australia (excluding the Northern Territory) and has exported their genetics to the USA, Canada and New Zealand.

The business runs cattle across three properties, including Mariot Park and Wilberio in northern New South Wales.

Kate, his wife, is also at the helm of the stud and the pair share backgrounds in agricultural science.

A modest man when talking about his own success, Lachlan was not shy on spruiking what he thought the grey cattle had to offer the beef industry.

"They have a huge potential for northern Australia,” he said.

"Particularly for cross breeding with your brahmans and charbray cows, obviously there is vast amounts of those in northern Australia.

"You will be getting an F1 calf, so 50% British, maybe just a little bit more depending on the cross of the cow.

"They are much more suited to feedlot industries and will meet the MSA requirements.”

The majority of Wallawong cattle are sold within New South Wales, but Lachlan and Kate now have clients buying from Barcaldine, Emerald and right through to the tropical Burdekin region.

The breed's sleek and light coat colour made them suited to hotter and drier climates, he said.

"Because of the reflection of heat off their coat they keep a lower body temperature and therefore will walk around and eat more grass, instead of standing under a tree,” he said.

When Lachlan reflects on the 27 years he has spent building the business he recalls "a lot of hard work”.

Starting a stud from scratch required complete focus on a long-term vision, he said.

"It's a long-term investment in your time and in your efforts,” he said.

"People ask me when I buy a new bull, 'is it any good?'.

"And I will say, 'I don't know, I will tell you in five years' time'.”

The current high price of beef has made this year's season particularly sweet.

"Part of why we do this is because we have two young boys, and if they wish to take this to the next level when they are old enough, that would be fantastic,” he said.

Although still young, Stirling, 8, and Fraser, 6, are already showing an interest in cattle.

The couple's background in agricultural science, Kate in genetics and Lachlan in meat science, has helped them stay at the forefront of industry demands.

This year Wallawong created a platform for buyers to purchase semen direct from their website.

They are the first murray grey stud to do this.

On a practical level, their science-based skills also made for smooth operations on the property.

"We do all our own AI (artificial insemination), embryo transfer programing and all of our own preg-testing ... and we can understand carcase sheets fairly well.”

The stud regularly hosts a client workshop where the couple share their insights, and the latest information on the seed-stock industry.

This year's event was aptly called Butts and Nuts and focused on carcase scanning and semen collection.

Wallawong cattle have won a string of awards in carcase competitions in recent years, but the biggest achievement Lachlan wanted to share was not his own.

"Each year the royal shows have what they call a group of three carcases,” he said.

"So each breed can submit three carcases for judging.

"Murray greys won Sydney, which is called the Stan Hill Trophy, Brisbane, which is the Ken McDonald Shield, then they won the Thomas International Pen of Three, which is the one at the Adelaide show.

"For me, that stands the breed in good stead as a carcase breed, as every other breed is also competing.

"When you can win three of those awards at royal shows in one year, to me, says the breed has a lot to contribute to the industry.”

For more information about Wallawong Murray Greys visit www.wallawong.com.au.

Topics:  beef industry


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