South Australian Murray Grey Conference


The SA Conference was held at the University of Adelaide’s Roseworthy College on the edge of the Barossa Valley on the 20th and 22nd of January.

Overall it was a wonderful three days of learning and socializing with fellow Murray Grey breeders. It was a great opportunity to talk to Murray Grey enthusiasts from different parts of Australia. There were 30 participants coming from as far north as Brisbane, as far east as Bendigo in VIC, up to Gunnedah in NSW and all round SA.

The mix of social events ranged from a BBQ dinner sponsored by T&R Pastoral in the Roseworthy college grounds to a conference dinner at the Vine Inn in Nuriootpa sampling some of the fine Barossa Valley wines; to watching Norm’s performing sheep dogs and a visit to Sepplesfield winery to sample some of the local produce. There was also a tour of the Roseworthy veterinary Science facilities which was amazing. The facility was purpose built and opened in 2010. For anyone thinking about studying veterinary science, definitely worth looking into.

The educational perspective was excellent with topics including MSA, BREEDPLAN, the “Completeness of Performance” Herd rating system, managing Genetic Conditions, Auctions Plus and structural Assessment of cattle.

The first presentation was given by Edwina Lord from MLA speaking on the producer requirements of Meat Standards Australia, and how it can be used as part of the marketing strategy for cattle and sheep producers.

Saturday focused on information being presented by the SBTS Technical staff, Andrew Byrne, Christian Duff and Gemma Wilkinson. It was pointed out again how important BREEDPLAN is as a tool to help increase the genetic improvement of our breed. The example of how much the chicken industry has advanced in such a short space of time using genetic improvement was staggering.

The group was given a run down on all the traits breeders can be measuring along with the best methods and timing for measuring these traits. It was highlighted that Murray Grey breeders have been doing a good job at collectingbBirth weights (70% of the animals registered have birth weights recorded). From there the recording of traits starts to drop off with the recording of 200, 400 and 600 day weights and then only 20% of scanning data for carcase traits is being collected.

From a breed perspective this is an area the Murray Grey breed could focus on to increase our accuracy for genetic improvement. The Murray Grey recording level is below the British Breed average in most traits. Increasing these statistics is up to individual members. It was suggested that breeders need to develop a performance ecording management plan; It should be easy and streamlined, Co-ordinate measuring certain traits with other things you are doing with these animals, scan animals in the best possible condition, if they have under 4mm fat cover the scan results will not be that beneficial and It is ideal to take a weight when scanning but it is not essential.

Andrew Byrne gave a presentation on Managing Genetic conditions, highlighting that there are DNA tests available to help manage Genetic conditions. It was suggested that members should ensure all the sires they are using are tested free or free by inheritance prior to joining.

Members should ensure the genetic condition status of any sale animal is known and clearly identified and they should nderstand any legal obligations. Members should also consider some strategic testing within their herds, that is test influential sires and/or animals with a high probability on GeneProb. It was also highlighted that genetic conditions are going to continue to develop and be identified. These genetic conditions can be managed rather than eradicated.

Tim Bayliss from Landmark gave a great rundown on AuctionsPlus. Basically it is the sale of cattle by description that is accessible Australia wide on the internet. Assessors who describe the cattle have to sit a course so the descriptions of the animals are accurate. Presently 8% of cattle sold are through AuctionsPlus and this will increase. There are numerous OH & S issues with sale yards arising, making AuctionsPlus an attractive sale method. Tim suggested everyone has a look at Auctions Plus and reminded everyone that it is free to register. Cattle sales are usually on Friday, the 1st sale at 10.00am and the 2nd at 11.00am. Each page can have up to 80 lots. Individual auctions for studstock breeders can be interfaced with AuctionsPlus.

Tim also gave us a hands on lesson to test our live cattle assessment skills. Thr group had the opportunity to measure and access fat levels on individual animals and look at the structural soundness, muscling and general confirmation.

Congratulations and thank you must go to the SA Murray Grey Breed Promotion Group, as well as all the guest speakers for their time and effort that was well received. And finally a big thank you to Darren Koopman for his part in the organization of this event, ajob well done.

The Murray Grey Conference was well worth attending and it is envisaged that there will be similar events in the future in different locations.


‘Overall 3 very informative days. Speakers all presented their talks with enthusiasm and knowledge that breeders could relate to easily. I feel the SA group would have been disappointed with numbers and I feel that this is a conference that many people have missed out on a wonderful opportunity. Although we may be aware and use these topics of discussion, we have still learnt and picked up new ideas to put into action. We look forward to the next conference, maybe in the Hunter Valley, NSW for thought. Well worth attending’. Bryce and Di Whale, Glenliam Farms, Glen William NSW

‘Was definitely well worth attending. From a SA breeder’s perspective – it was great to get to know others that made the effort from other states, and a great opportunity to know those involved on the Board. I learnt a great deal – and so easy when it’s conducted right at my own doorstep!’ Katrina Sanders, Ballyvaughan Murray Greys, Clare SA

‘Subject matter was good; lecturers have been excellent, interesting and informative. Good that it has been small so we can ask questions. Everyone has been very friendly in a relaxed atmosphere. Very positive.’ Joan Heard, Rockyleigh Murray Greys, Maiden Gully VIC