Belmont Reds are an ideal fit on Alawoona

Schmidt's set with Belmont reds

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Pre-drought: Peter Schmidt with some of his Belmont Red weaner bulls during better times on Alawoona.

Pre-drought: Peter Schmidt with some of his Belmont Red weaner bulls during better times on Alawoona.

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Despite contending with drought conditions for the eight years prior to 2020, Belmont Reds breeder Peter Schmidt said the drought resistance and foraging ability of the breed proved ever-reliable through that time.

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Despite contending with drought conditions for the eight years prior to 2020, Belmont Reds breeder Peter Schmidt said the drought resistance and foraging ability of the breed proved ever-reliable through that time.

Mr Schmidt and his partner Kathryn James run their commercial breeding operation on Alawoona, 20km south-west of Wyandra. Peters older son Trader and his wife Juliet are on Sholto, while younger son Rupert and his wife Nikki are on Bando and Retreat. These properties are adjoined to Alawoona, and comprise a combined 46,539ha of country. Though they all trade separately, they often help each other out.

The family has owned much of the country since 1910 when Bando was purchased by Peters' grandfather. Trader and Rupert represent the fourth generation of the family on the land. The country across the properties consists of 40 per cent Mulga and 60pc good black soil plains land.

Mr Schmidt said they're in semi arid country with very little rainfall.

"We've had 115mm to date this year, with some of the Mulga country receiving up to 150mm. Two floods, within four weeks of each other, in the Warrego have been most beneficial and has the country looking good at present. It's a big improvement on what we've had for nearly a decade," he said.

Hardy: The Schmidts' Belmont Red cows and calves did well on a sole Mulga diet with supplements at Alawoona during its most severe drought ever in January 2019.

Hardy: The Schmidts' Belmont Red cows and calves did well on a sole Mulga diet with supplements at Alawoona during its most severe drought ever in January 2019.

In 1974 Mr Schmidt purchased Africander bulls from the CSIRO Belmont Research Station, which were run in a stud enterprise for 10 years. From this venture he started buying Belmont Red bulls in the mid-1990's.

"The Belmont red is a perfect fit for the environment here. They're a hardy breed with the good walking and browsing abilities derived from the Africander, in combination with the good meat characteristics from the quarter Hereford/quarter Shorthorn influence.

"They're also very fertile. On average the breeders preg test at 85 per cent. They can conceive and have a calf on a sole diet of Mulga. They've continued to be an enduring asset over the years."

On Alawoona (which has been organic certified for 24 years) they breed pure Belmont Red weaners which are sold to other organic producers. In better seasons they take the cattle to 400kg and sell to the same destinations.

They normally run close to 900 cows and 1200 head in total on Alawoona, but through the drought they destocked to around 400 cows and 110 heifers.

"We'll slowly, naturally increase the numbers back up now. Destocking has however fit well with giving the country time to recover. Nearly all the breeders are on our flooded country at present which will allow the young Mulga to recover for the next dry."

Destinations: On Alawoona (which has been organic certified for 24 years) the Schmidts breed pure Belmont Red weaners which are sold to other organic producers. In better seasons they take the cattle to 400kg and sell to the same destinations.

Destinations: On Alawoona (which has been organic certified for 24 years) the Schmidts breed pure Belmont Red weaners which are sold to other organic producers. In better seasons they take the cattle to 400kg and sell to the same destinations.

He said to improve the genetics of the herd, over the years they've been purchasing bulls from Jeanne Seifert and Ian Stark, Seifert Belmont Reds, and from his brother Paul Schmidt, Corymbia Belmont Reds.

"Both of these studs have done a great job with their bulls and the quality is showing in our cattle now.

"Fertility data including motility and morphology data is the first thing he looks at when buying a bull. 400-day weight is important, and I like to see how a bull walks in person as they need to cover large distances between feed and water on our property. I also require polled bulls with a short, sleek shiny coat to help with heat tolerance."

Mr Schmidt will likely register some heifers this year.

"We're looking to put about 100 on open country to make data collection easier. We'll start off in a small way with that program and see how we go."

He said in comparison to their neighbours, who've either had to sell all their cattle or keep 60 to 80 cows due to the prolonged drought, he's been very happy with ability of the Belmont Reds to manage relatively well through the adverse conditions.

"They've really been wonderful cattle for us."

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