Hampton Downs is not just a prefix; it definitely
is a programme, a programme born out of necessity
For a number of years we used Simmental bulls
for producing weaners for the weaner fairs, always
topping the sales, no matter where we sold.
The Hampton Downs Simmental stud was established
in 1987 with the acquisition of a small herd of
purebred in calf cows. Calving those cows down
that first spring was not much short of a disaster,
with dead cows, dead calves, paralysed cows, caesarean
sections, vet pulls that we couldn't pull and
just two cows calving down unassisted. Some of
the calves were big, too big.
This was long before the days of Breedplan or
the Internet, and in the days when "anything
We concluded that if this was what breeding seed
stock was all about then there must have been
many breeders that had got it wrong. We concluded
that someone had to get it right. It could have
been so easy to have simply given it all away.
What was the problem?
We had been around calving cows for years and
so were not without experience. What did we have
to do? Where could we turn for advice?
We turned to North America. We very quickly tuned
into genetic trait recording as undertaken by
the Americans and learned of the genetic inheritance
of the traits that they recorded at that time.
We especially tuned into the birth weight trait,
this trait we learned was highly heritable.
We obtained semen of a low birthweight bull that
season, used him over what was left of the cows
we acquired, and we were away. All of those cows
calved the next season sight unseen. That the
bull was also homozygous polled was a "bonus".
Our mission was then defined, "To breed bulls
that would ensure as many live calves born as
possible, without losing sight of the maternal
strengths and the growth potential that the breed
We would also concentrate on breeding polled cattle.