As the dust settles on the annual Rockhampton Brahman Week sale, one vendor can quietly reflect on how much he has achieved in 10 years.
It was a very dark day back in November 2012, when the Kirk family of Rockley Brahmans were shocked by the discovery that Bovine Johne's disease, a muscle wasting condition which can affect cattle, sheep, goats, alpacas and deer, had been detected in their breeding herd.
BJD is a rare disease in Queensland and it's not known how it came to Rockley, but the highly regarded 55-year-old stud was almost crippled by an industry-imposed quarantine and eradication policy after three Rockley cows tested positive.
Ashley Kirk's response at the time was to reassess, relocate and rebuild in a way that's positioned him to return to the peak of his industry.
After an absence of selling for three years, the family returned in 2016 with smaller numbers.
But this year's sale result speaks for itself with nine registered bulls sold to average $56,888, including eight sons of Elmo Picasso averaging $62,250, plus two herd bulls averaging $11,000.
The stud's sale topper at $180,000 was Rockley Esterban (PP), a son of Elmo Picasso 1023 (PP), and was bought by Joe and Felicity Street of Fairy Springs Brahmans.
Elmo Picasso was bought by the Kirks at Beef Australia 2018 for $40,000.
And while Ashley was impressed with Picasso's sire Wallton Downs Barnaby 710/PS, it was Picasso's dam, the homozygous polled Elmo Lady Lucille 885/PP, that he loved most.
"She was a lovely cow with a good udder, and she always stood out to me."
According to Ashley, the family returned to the sale venue after working through and rebuilding their herd and they "are now back in business".
"We are really proud of what we have achieved, and it has not been an easy road," he said.
"We put our time and effort in by looking forward, and while 10 years may seem a long time, it was definitely very challenging."
Since then, the Kirk family has welcomed BJD policy changes that have since been implemented, and are happy to put their ordeal behind them.
"It is no secret we had to cull our 250 stud breeding herd and had to rebuild," Ashley said.
"We have so far rebuilt the stud herd to 75 registered breeders, which are at Ungarra, in the Moura district.
"We undertook several massive IVF programs to retain our female lines, and chose outside sire bloodlines to match to our donors.
"Our long-term goals are to produce our own sires to use in these programs."
To develop the new-look stud at Ungarra, Ashley drew upon the family's extensive experience of breeding red Brahmans and set about improving upon the already impressive genetics they had developed.
"We are rebuilding by doing both natural breeding, alongside two IVF programs."
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