My 2011 Study Tour

I am a young stud Angus breeder from "Hollywood Angus Stud", Peak Hill, NSW. I was awarded the Matthew George Young Stockman Award for 2010 at the Royal Melbourne Show. In April, I will be heading to Mexico and Canada for a four month study tour to get an overview of the beef cattle industries in these countries. I will be visiting a range of enterprises, including major shows, stud and commercial operations, and feedlots. I wish to thank the Ballarat Foundation for the opportunity to live my dream, and hope to share my experiences via this blog.


The Matthew George Young Stockman Award was established as a sub-fund of the Ballarat Foundation in honour of Matthew George of Stockyard Hill, who was tragically taken in a car accident in 2007 at 21 years of age. Matthew had an absolute love of animals together with a thirst for knowledge and a passion for breeding. This annual award provides a young breeder aged 18 to 25 years with the opportunity to live Matthew's dream, and travel overseas to become an ambassador for the beef industry and study other beef cattle breeding programs and developments.
APPLY NOW FOR THE MATTHEW GEORGE AWARD 2011: Applications are now open for this year's Matthew George Young Stockman Award. This is an amazing award for anyone who wants to learn more about the beef industry. If you're aged 18-25, make sure you apply - the opportunities it opens up are just incredible! For application details, go to click on 'sub funds' & then 'matthew george award'. Applications close 30 June.

Saturday, 27 August 2011


The Matthew George Young Stockman Award offers young breeders a chance to “live your dream”.  In my case, it turned out to be so much more than I could have ever dreamed! I spent an incredible four months in Mexico and Canada where I was able to get a broad overview of beef production, from purebred seedstock genetics and production, to  commercial production, right through to feedlotting and branded beef marketing. I had the opportunity to see different livestock and pasture management systems and learn about their agriculture in general. I’ve met so many wonderful people and made a wealth of contacts. Above all, this study tour has broadened my perspectives – it’s made the world seem smaller and the possibilities within in it greater.

I want to thank the Ballarat Foundation, in particular to David & Lorraine George for their support;  Noel Trengrove for his assistance; and all those in the beef industry who contributed to the Foundation and made this award possible. On 30th September, I will be attending the Melbourne Royal Show for the announcement of this year’s Matthew George Young Stockman Award and to give a presentation on my study tour.

Below is a quick recap of my study tour. I would like to say a HUGE thank you to all those listed below – plus so many more - whom I stayed with, who toured me around, who shared their time, knowledge & expertise with me. Without your hospitality, help and support, I never would have been able to see and learn so much.

Also, thank you to the readers of my blog!! It’s been great to share my trip with you.
Thanks, & bye … Rach

MEXICO:  I spent a month in Mexico, staying with Mezquite Genetics at Tepatitlan in Jalisco, who breed red & black Angus & Charolais. I attended a major livestock show, Expo Ganadera, for two weeks where I helped with fitting and showing, and toured a variety of ranches. I gained a good overview of their beef industry as well as many other aspects of their agriculture, plus it was incredible to experience Mexican hospitality and culture.

REMINGTON RANCH (Sthn Alberta):  Purebred red & black Angus and Simmentals, SimAngus crosses & commercial herd.  I got to take part in their general ranch operations for a month, riding pastures, breeding cows & even attended  a big Canadian ‘branding day’ at a neighbouring ranch. My last week there was spent helping on the clipping team getting ready for their stud dispersal sale in October.

PEAK DOT RANCH (Saskatchewan): Purebred Angus. I had an opportunity to see their embryo and AI program, talk about Angus genetics, and learn about the partnerships they operate with breeders & Hillcrest Enterprises (feedlot).

SIX MILE RED ANGUS (Saskatchewan): Purebred Red & Black Angus. Their Red Angus genetics are being used in Australia and I was given a tour of their breeding herd.

JYF LIMOUSINS (Saskatchewan):  I toured their sale barn & looked at their yard design.

CANADIAN BEEF BREEDS COUNCIL (Calgary): I visited the CBBC office to talk about the Canadian cattle industry & learn about the role CBBC plays.

CALGARY STAMPEDE: I had 2 days at the Stampede where I watched the judging of the Steer Competition & toured the stud cattle displays.

OLE FARMS (Athabasca): Purebred Black & Red Angus, commercial herd, cropping & feedlot. I toured the ranch, looking at their cattle and talking about their range of operations.

HIGHLAND FEEDERS & BIO REFINERY (Vegreville):  I spent two days at Highland Feeders, one of Canada’s largest feedlot operations. I was also able to visit their integrated bio refinery, the first of its kind in Canada, and tour Spring Creek Ranch where they raise premium beef without hormones or antibiotics for their branded beef line.

LEWIS FARMS (Spruce Grove): Purebred Simmental & Angus, seed potatoes & grain. I had a chance to tour both their farms & look at their genetics, plus I was able to attend Vermilion Fair with them and take part in a Jackpot heifer show.

SPRING CREEK BEEF (Edmonton): I visited the Spring Creek Beef Office in Edmonton and got to talk about the Spring Creek brand and how it’s run; also looked at the marketed product in-store & attended a beef promotion.

MILLER WILSON ANGUS (DMM) (Bashaw): Purebred Black Angus. I helped DMM show their cattle at Agribition in Regina last November, so this was a chance to catch up again & look at their herd and talk Angus genetics.

HAMILTON FARMS (Calgary): Purebred Black Angus, hay & cropping. Toured their ranch and got to see their Angus herd and help out with hay making.

QUARTER CIRCLE X RANCH (Calgary): Beefbooster (hybrid bulls) production. My home base in Canada! I got to experience many wonderful things while staying here, including learning about their Beefbooster breeding program, taking part in general ranch operations, participating in ‘branding’, hay making, & trailing their cows to summer pastures in the Rockies.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Heading Home

Well, my amazing adventure has finally come to an end – time to come home! I spent my last few days with the Buckleys at Quarter Circle X Ranch moving more cattle to their summer pastures in the Rockies.  I would like to say a huge thank you to the Buckley family for being my Canadian home base and family away from home!

I left Canada on 9 August and got home on 11 August. No time to feel jet lagged – it was straight to the farm to start clipping and preparing our show team for the local show circuit. It was exciting to get home and see our own cattle. I’m full of enthusiasm from all that I’ve seen and done and can’t wait to put some of the ideas I've learned to use in our own stud.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Cattle, Horses and the Rockies:

Wow! having only another day or so left in Canada hasn't meant I'm on the slow down - fitting as much in as I can!  And what better way to end my last days than on horseback moving cows in the Rocky Mountain foothills!  It definitely won't be an image I will get out of my mind for a long time - chasing our missing cows and calves and bulls up and down creeks, crashing through the water, riding blindly through the spruce trees, all while being in one of the most magnificent mountain ranges!  The flat plains of Peak Hill are going to take a bit of adjusting to after this!!!  The last few days I’ve been riding a different horse - Charlie  - definitely doesn't act his age (25), but still thinks he young – a tremendously athletic horse who really knows how to work cattle!  As well as this, we’ve being taking bulls out - only 2 more groups to go - and moving the cows around.  Have been trying to bale hay but the weather has had other ideas - the last 2 days we’ve had storms roll in in the afternoon and  had just enough rain to dampen everything and push the moisture content way too high.  Also had the opportunity to go raspberry picking today - absolutely gorged myself on them – they never taste better than when freshly picked from the bush! 
Looking forward to my last day/s here in Canada and getting to end it on a high - will be trailing more cows and calves to the summer pastures, then comes the joys of packing!  Seriously how much stuff can one accumulate in 4 months!! 

Friday, 5 August 2011

Quarter Circle X Ranch

After my stay at Hamilton Farms, I headed back to my Canadian ‘home away from home’ at John and Tracy Buckley’s Quarter Circle X Ranch near Calgary. I’m into my final week in Canada but what a way to end it!!!  This time of year is really busy with everything happening at once - trying to get hay made (not the easiest when the weather isn't that cooperative), pulling bulls out of the breeding pastures; and then – the HIGHLIGHT! - trailing the cows and calves to the summer pastures at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. 
On the first day, we went and gathered all the cows & calves - the pasture they were running on is set with a creek flowing from the Rockies in the middle with thick timber areas, steep banks and pasture land.  Once we had 'found' all the cows, we trailed them closer to home ready for the big cattle drive the next day to the summer pastures, and cut the bulls out and brought them home.  I then spent the afternoon raking hay while others were baling, trying to beat the rain!  Then came all the excitement of the next day when the drive really began. It was fantastic!!! Got up bright and early at 3.45 in the morning (practice for the shows when I get back!) and saddled our horses and headed out.  Only just light when we left the barn at close to 4.45am.  Went and gathered all the cows from the pasture - passed a herd of elk grazing on the hay fields along the way - then started them up the road and on the way to the lease. 

We went under the Calgary Banff Trans-Canada Highway overpass and took them southish along the road for 11 miles.  Beautiful scenery & a gorgeous day - warm (23degrees) and sunny.   Just something very 'right' about moving cattle this way!  It took us close to 4 hours to get to the corrals where the lease land starts and give the cattle a rest and us a coffee break. 

Then the best part began! Had to take them another 4 miles through all the pines and trees, green meadows, down a very steep edge and through a gorgeously clear creek that runs straight from the Rockies and up what they call the "wall" – literally, this very steep path up from the creek flats!  So much fun!!  Some parts you just held on and let the horses take you!  The bush was really dense in parts - made it fun trying to work out a path and get all 205 cows and calves through it!  Then we came out on top of the mountain onto this stunning mountain meadow! It was fantastic!  We’ve got a couple more trips to do up to the summer pastures with other cattle, so can’t wait for what’s in store over my last few days.

Oh, have also been busy getting the haying done - getting to become a pro at raking hay and now also baling.  This is a bale I made myself!

Hamilton Farms

Hamilton Farms is located in the scenic foothills northwest of Calgary, Alberta . Hamilton Farms has been raising high quality purebred Black Angus cattle since 1981. They run approximately 400 cows & operate over 5000 acres of which 850 acres is hay; approximately 900 acres in annual crops & the remaining 3500 acres mostly native grazing land.

I arrived at Hamilton Farms north of Cochrane on Friday afternoon and toured around the cattle with Gail Hamilton.  Had a great look around all their cattle and got to see a lot of HF Kodiak and HF Tiger progeny, which was exciting as we have used Tiger (pictured below) at Hollywood Angus and  our first AI calves have just been born.

I then stayed on at Hamilton Farms with Rob and Gail for the next three days - got to go and tour some more pastures; put mineral and salt out; do general cattle work; drive the pickup truck ferrying everyone around to the different pastures; and mow lawns (grass can really grow over here!).  They were in the middle of making hay, so also got my first taste of hay making!  Hay production is so critical here for feed in the winter months.  It has been a good year for hay production with lots of rain, but the rain definitely makes it interesting when you’re trying to bale it!  I really want to thank Rob and Gail for having me stay and help - I had a fantastic time and really enjoyed doing something a little different to what I’ve been doing in Canada and have ever done at home, but that is so relied upon for survival through their winter! Thanks so much!

Miller Wilson Angus

After Vermilion Fair, I headed off with Miller Wilson Angus (DMM) back to their ranch at Bashaw, Alberta.  Last year I had a fantastic time helping Lee & Dawn Wilson show their cattle at Agribition in Regina, Sasketchewan, and it was so great to catch up on everything that has been going on since, and also hear about their time in Australia at Sydney Royal where Dawn judged the Angus.  When we got back, we off loaded the steers that DMM showed at the Fair, and had a quick look around at some of their cows right near the house.  The next morning was spent touring around all the cows and calves and also moving some to different pastures - a tremendous line of cattle!!! Unfortunately my time at DMM was all too short, as that afternoon I headed with Dawn to Hamilton Farms north of Cochrane. Thank you DMM for a great visit!

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Vermilion Fair

On Thursday, I went with Lewis Farms to Vermilion Fair, about 2 ¾ hours east of Edmonton. The Fair was similar to one of our typical country shows, with livestock, agricultural trade displays and carnival rides etc. The grounds were very green and pretty! At the Fair, they held a ‘Jackpot Heifer Show’, which Lewis Farms won with their Simmental heifer. There was also a ‘Steer Jackpot’ which was great to watch; some of the steers in the lineup are pictured below. The  steer with white legs was one shown by DMM; the other black steer was the winner of the jackpot.