Approximately a minute is the time it takes for first-year Toowoomba-based Santa Gertrudis Breeders’ (Australia ) Association (SGBAA) field director Nigel Ferguson to classify an animal.
Nigel has a wealth of experience in the pastoral industry for which he has lived and worked in his entire life, putting him in good stead for the position he commenced in January this year.
“I’ve managed upgrading and cross breeding programs of large commercial cattle herds for various pastoral companies since 1971,” he said.
“In the last twelve years I’ve been dealing with agents, buyers and producers within the saleyards industry as Queensland manager for a private enterprise company providing NLIS compliance and contract management of saleyards.”
He said the management positions he’s held over the years have covered vast tracts of the Northern Territory and the eastern states which has in turn resulted in many personal contacts and relationships being established in the industry.
The field director position within the SGBAA became available in September last year with the retirement of Geoff Coombs after 29 years.
He said the role involves individual inspection of progeny recorded animals presented for classification by stud members.
“Fundamentally, breed associations aim to improve a particular breed and promote its interest. To achieve this objective the SGBAA provide a classification system to its members.”
He said from their inception Santa Gertrudis cattle have been subjected to individual inspection and classification, firstly by visiting American classifiers and from 1963 by full time association-employed field directors.
“The field directors’ responsibility is to individually inspect all the animals recorded with the association which are in a recognised breeding program.
“This service is available to all registered members both stud and commercial in Australia. Animals are inspected and accessed for breed character, functional efficiency and conformation, the animal itself determines the degree of excellence within the Santa Gertrudis breed.”
Depending on the quality of facilities in which he’s inspecting the cattle, Nigel said he can generally complete the classification process for 45 animals in an hour.
With 18 zones within Australia as well as a 19th in New Zealand to cover, Nigel and fellow field director Russell Gray are in close communication to ensure stud breeders within the entire area are visited in an efficient and effective manner.
“The zones are shared each year and ideally swapped around for the following year so association members have a visit from each director every two years.”
He said they’ll be in attendance at each of the forthcoming annual stud bull sales during September and October and in some case both will be present at one sale.
”During the stud sales, field days and shows each year the field directors aim is to also explain and promote the Santa Gertrudis attributes, assuring the breed is an integral player in the long term viability of the Australian Beef Industry.”