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Why the Programme?
The Beginning
The Present
The Future

Our herd was now defined. Largely polled, with birthweight and calving ease essentially under control. We had used a variety of bull power, largely American except for Eldorado. Many of our cows had adequate milking capability, some were even trait leaders for milk. But where was the uniformity? Some of our cows still didn't have the moderate frame and fleshing we desired, and some couldn't hack the drought conditions we experience here in our summers. We continued to experiment with polled genetics, but they were hard to find. Where, where, where were the polled bulls out there to go in over our herd, other than ones we had bred ourselves? They were not coming into New Zealand. We wanted a polled bull with real "GRUNT". We wanted fleshing; we wanted easy calving; we wanted a polled bull with real maternal strength behind him. What we wanted just didn't seem to exist.
And then a stroke of pure fortune. As members of the American Simmental Association we enjoy receiving a monthly magazine, "The Register". After years of flicking through page after page and not being all that overly impressed with the bull power being promoted over there, we came upon an advertisement of a bull that had recently been sold in Canada. Photographically impressive, stunning, he simply leapt out of the page of the magazine at us. That bull was Bar 5 Paymaster. He had just sold for phenomenal money, but was he just a dream? We enquired to the advertiser as to his whereabouts. That next weekend we were on a plane to Canada. Three days of watching the bull, his dam (possibly the best cow we had ever seen), his maternal grand dam (and what a fabulous cow she was as well), his sire, his paternal grand dam, his full sib, and lots of paternal half sibs. To say we were "blown away" would be an understatement. Perfect feet and legs, deep ribbed, well fleshed, free moving, and American epd's exactly as we would dream for, trait leader for calving ease, for growth, and for the maternal traits we held as important. What a fabulous package, and then onto our next venture into the unknown, importing semen to New Zealand from Canada.Without doubt importing semen of that bull has been the turning point in our programme. He has bred positively over every style of female we have thrown his way. He has since proven to also have carcass traits that we had no idea he might offer, positive fat cover, good eye muscle, and good retail beef yield, and as important as any carcass trait, he has since proven to be in the top 1% of the breed for intra-muscular fat content. Marbling for tender beef has to be the future.What is more, Paymaster opened the door to an enduring, positive, honest and open relationship with the Bar 5 operation out of Canada that had bred him and who still held an interest in him. When enquiring of Bar 5 of what life might exist after Paymaster, they suggested Kalgary a full South African, but he was horned, and we wanted polled. We had often read of what the South Africans had done with their "Simmentaler" cattle; of the importance that they placed on structure, on maternal, on carcass and on quality. Their dedication to breeding objectives seemed to mirror what we were trying to achieve. By this time we had come to recognise that many of the animals that we had and which we liked mostly for their ease of fleshing and for maintaining body condition had some Fleckvieh influence in them. And so the decision to import Bar 5 Kalgary, regardless of his horned status, because of the Fleck influence. We bred him over our most strongly polled cows, and our first calf crop all came out polled. But most impressively, his calves were vigorous from birth, up and feeding within the space of just two or three minutes, with none of the cows assisted in delivery. That strong survival instinct had been passed on through Kalgary. Surely, gone were the days of hanging a "valuable" calf over a couple of bales of hay for three or four days, and then nurturing it for another week before we could be sure it would survive. When calving down 250 cows and recording their calves, we now had too little time, and space, for that antic, especially in the mud and rain we experience here at calving time.And now Kalgery's carcass ebv's are out, almost exactly what we had hoped for, within the top 1% of the breed for fat covers, a significant ebv for producing early finishing cattle (and for fertility), and excellent eye muscle and retail beef yield, though possibly a little low for growth, but then we have never been high growth EBV driven in our programme. Muscle, fat, good calving ease, fertility and calf survivability, and early finishing all in one package, in Kalgery. And we can see it in his progeny. To have all that red meat as well? We look forward to see how his first daughters perform.Polled Fleckvieh was clearly our goal now. Further genetics out of Canada, both homozygous polled, Richwood Bruno, and Marywood Polled Western 91J, fullblood Fleckvieh influenced Simmental. Bruno offered calving ease and strong maternal, and 91J offered tremendous growth. We can see it in their first calves. And line breeding using these two bulls has proven successful, we now having semen of five bulls that descend from one of the all time great Fleckvieh bulls of Canada, C & B Western. A good friend found us a new and exciting bull for our programme on a visit to Germany. This heralded the introduction of Storno to our programme. The first progeny of Storno are here. He offers further maternal strength. We anxiously await his first calves out of some of our Paymaster daughters.Our herd is now largely where we want it, with the exception of a few purchased in females that we use to benchmark our own programme.