Charolais breeders reflect on 50 years of history

Founders of the Charolais breed remembered as breed celebrates 50 years in Australia

Beef
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The Australian Charolais breed celebrated its 50th anniversay in Toowoomba.

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There may have been several dates set over the past 15 months but the Australian Charolais 50th Anniversary Dinner was finally held in Toowoomba on Saturday evening.

The event, which also included a presentation of awards to the winners of the Queensland Region's feedlot trial and carcase competition, was originally to be held at the Ekka 2020 in conjunction with the World Charolais Congress, and then again rescheduled at this year's Ekka and cancelled again.

The function was a tribute to the many great cattlemen and women that have been part of the foundation of the Charolais breed and persevered in the breeding, selecting, and marketing of Charolais Cattle in Australia.

According to Queensland chairperson, Graham Blanch, Charnelle Charolais, Upper Tent Hill, that after becoming a Charolais seed stock producer in the early 90's, he learned very quickly that "it is the breeders that make and build the breed".

"Without critical selection, preparedness to take the hard knocks and willingness to reset the course, the enterprise would not have lasted," he said.

"So tonight, I would like to pay tribute to some of the breeders that set the foundations and built the Charolais breed to what it has become today."

First to be recognised as true builders of the Charolais breed were Peter and Valerie Bondfield, so much so, that the Palgrove name is known by most seedstock producers in Australia.

Their son, David and wife Prue who are two of the life members, have taken the Palgrove herd to new heights.

"Palgrove will always be the benchmark for quality, integrity and service. The couple travelled extensively throughout the world sourcing genetics that have helped in correcting and maintaining the quality of the Palgrove brand," Mr Blanch said.

"We thank David and Prue for their extensive skills in promoting and marketing not only the Palgrove brand, but also the Charolais breed.

"No other stud, of any breed, will ever match the amount of Royal Show Interbreed wins that the Bondfields have clocked up in the last 50 years, and that says a lot about the building and the acceptance of the Charolais breed in Australia.

"To give you some idea of the size and impact of the Palgrove enterprise, over the past 50 years the Bondfields have registered some 21,322 head of Charolais with the Charolais Society."

In 1971 the Riverglen stud herd at Glenmorgan, was first registered by the late John Sullivan and his wife Lenore.

"We are so glad that Lenore could make it here tonight to celebrate with us and her family as John was a true "builder and believer "of the Charolais breed, Mr Blanch said.

"A real cattleman, he could tell like no one else I know, what a beast looked like on the inside without taking the hide off. This was evident in the many Riverglen carcase wins. He was a true gentleman."

Mr Blanch said he had never met the late Des Noller of Gunnadoo Charolais, Oakey, as he had passed before his time.

"I I believed he also was a great cattleman, and a person who was held in high esteem by others. By the time I came on the scene in the early nineties his very capable sons Gary, Jeff and Tony had taken over the Gunnadoo herd and kept building it up into a formidable force," he said.

"The Gunnadoo females were always in high demand. Could we ever forget Gunnadoo Red Baron who took everything before him in 1997 in the show ring including interbreed wins at Beef 97 and the Brisbane Ekka!

The late Trevor Cottee and Noel Johns had a big impact in the early days, after registering the Tallagella stud, and they were noted for importing live cattle including the great bull Sundowner Ranches Giant and others from New Zealand.

Trevor, in his later years would always be seen with a camera in his hand at shows and sales, promoting and capturing sale and show results, as only he could. He also served as Federal President.

The late Jans Kemp started the Bunya-Vale herd in 1971 and he was always introduced at stud sales as "The biggest little stud on the Downs".

"Jans was a great judge of cattle, and an absolute gentleman. It's great to have Mark, and family here tonight."

Mr Blanch said a host of other names come to mind as he thought of the early days, and the commitment and perseverance to build the Charolais breed to what it is today. Charolais were not without their problems in the early days with calving and structure issues in some of the French bulls used and incredible work went in to correcting and building the resilient breed we have today.

He said it was people like the late Bill Freeman and family, Nev Freeman and family, and the late Barry Conroy and family that had a real belief in what the Charolais breed had to offer.

"They demonstrated their belief by entering and winning many steer and carcase competitions," he said

The Cass family began the AYR herd in 1973 at Manilla in NSW but immigrated to Central Queensland around the turn of the century after marketing most of their cattle in this state over several years.

The Cass family have stayed with just French genetics over a long period of time and their brand of cattle are well sort after across commercial BOS Indicus herds and many stud herd operations. Andrew and Norah Cass ventured into Poll Full French Charolais and registered the ANC prefix in 2002.

These days ANC have lifted the bar even higher producing quality Homozygous Poll French genetics.

AYR Charolais are placed 2nd on the all-time registrations list with 9651, while ANC are placed 3rd with 5791 registrations.

The Branchview herd was started on the Darling Downs 40 years ago by Trevor and Diane Postle and is managed today by son Andrew, and wife Jemma Postle.

In 1988 a star was born!

What became known as Fernvale Charolais was the masterpiece of Ann Wilkinson and husband Tom. Ann had registered the Bottletree prefix some time before and Bottletree Cynthia and Airlie Elsbeth, became two very influential matrons in the Fernvale herd. This led to super donors like Ja-Cie and Primadonna, and stud sires like Prime Mover and Trapper. These sires were big influences in the stud herds' Palgrove and Rosedale, and many smaller studs through AI. Primadonna went on to generate more than $600,000 worth of direct progeny. Primadonnas son, Trapper, who sold to Rosedale Charolais for $35,000, commanded $700 per straw for his semen when I had the privilege to sell the last of the Fernvale genetics through our sale a couple of years ago. We also thank Ann for her service as a Qld Chairperson.

Clocking up 30 years we have the following herds who are all doing a tremendous job breeding with excellence and promoting the Charolais brand. Kandanga Valley, Lilydale, Kilkenny, Moongool, Vee Jay Downs and Huntington all first registered their prefixes in 1989/90 and are all a force to be reckoned with today. Most of these studs having their own highly sort after bull sales.

John and Roz Mercer have registered 3460 cattle with the Charolais Society over the last 30 years, and their contribution to making the breed.

Ian, Dell, Ivan and Helen Price have built the Moongool herd up to great heights in 30 years, with demand for their bulls at their recent on property sale lifting to a $16,179 average. They hold the record for the highest priced Charolais bull at auction when a couple of years ago they sold Luna Rise to 4 ways Charolais for $83,000. Moongool are always the team to beat at the shows, always at the forefront.

This year at beef they won Interbreed Champion Female with Moongool Radical 26

There are many other studs in Queensland flying the Charolais banner high and these include Mountview, Ascot, Barambah -Dale, Bauhinia Park, Brendale, Bettafield, Clare, Elridge, Jay Tees, River Run, Karinda, Bird Hill and others too numerous to mention.

Jim and Jackie Wedge's Ascot Charolais, averaged $17,450 at their bull sale which is a tremendous result is this year. Jim and Jackie are really being recognized as a Charolais force especially with their volume of Homozygous Polled Charolais.

Mr Blanch said they must not forget the efforts in building and making the Charolais breed in other states of Australia as well.

"We salute the Millner's, Mc Lachlan's, Rick Pisaturo, Sailer's, Trustum's, Jenkins, Collins's, Taylor's, Crozier's, Binny's, Mt William Charolais, Griffin's, Carol Heading, David Ellis and many more," he said.

This year's bull sales at auction in Queensland saw 1067 bulls sell for a total of just over $13.5 Million for an average of $12,661 and a top of $75,000.

A total of 50 bulls sold this year for $25,000 or more. This year we sold 170 stud females at auction in Queensland for a healthy average of $7206 to gross $1.25 Million

Semen from Queensland bred Charolais bulls has been exported to several countries in recent years, including semen going to Canada, France, UK and Ireland, and a shipment to South Africa has been cleared to go in coming weeks.

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