South Boorook stud holds final sale

SOUTH Boorook Hereford stud at Mortlake will hold its final sale next month, winding up decades as one of Australia’s elite herds.

Owner Peter Allen said the enterprise would concentrate solely on its commercial herd which has always run alongside the stud operation.

He said red tape related to running the stud herd was imposing constraints on the overall enterprise.

“If you’re going to run a successful stud you have to tick all the boxes for health requirements,” Mr Allen said. 

‘‘We have all the certifications but they restrict what we can do on the commercial side.

The property is certified as free of Johnes disease, Pestivirus and other diseases, which means only certified cattle can be brought to the property.

“This season is a good example of what happens. 

‘‘We’ve just has a terrific spring with a massive amount of grass. 

‘‘We haven’t been able to buy in cattle to make use of that feed because you just can’t find certified commercial cattle. 

‘‘The commercial breeders don’t bother with certification because it’s a big cost and a lot of work.”

Mr Allen said the cost of maintaining the certifications ran into “thousands” and involved a lot of work.

“We’ll be staying with the Herefords, but freeing ourselves from the red tape.”

Mr Allen said South Boorook would maintain its European Union (EU) certification, which requires that no growth promotants are used.

“At the weaner sales this week you will see thousands of EU-accredited cattle for sale — it’s a definite advantage for commercial herds and easy to maintain,’’ he said.

South Boorook was established as part of a mixed farming enterprise in 1906 by William Allen, Peter’s grandfather.

The Hereford stud was established south of Mortlake in 1939 by Jim Allen, Peter’s father.

Jim Allen’s commitment to establishing an elite bloodline was demonstrated in the early 1950s when he imported 18 females and several bulls from England.

One of the earliest of the breed’s most influential sires, Vern Milton, was bought as a five-month-old calf in 1946 for $5120, at that time the highest price paid by an Australian breeder.

South Boorook’s genetics now underpin many of Australia’s elite Hereford herds, attracting buyers from a wide area of Australia to its annual on-property sale, which has been running since 1956.

The stud was at the forefront of performance recording, with weaning weights first collected on heifers in 1958. 

Its catalogue that year was the first to have figures for weight, daily gains and weight ratios for the sale bulls.

South Boorook reached its peak in 1974 when 2500 people attended its sale and 33 aircraft were parked on its private airstrip.

“We almost needed air traffic control that day,” Mr Allen said.

South Boorook was also a dominant exhibitor at the major royal shows, achieving six grand champions, two senior, seven junior and eight reserve champions at Sydney from 1947 to 1968.

The stud also exhibited 17 grand champions, eight senior, 15 junior and 20 reserve champions at Melbourne from 1947 to 1978.

South Boorook’s final stud sale will be held on February 28, offering 152 breeding females and 35 two-year-old bulls.

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