AS SEEN IN THE ANNUAL- Page 18 – 20 – Greymans Make Their Mark by Andrea MacCormick

May 15, 2024

Greymans are earning a reputation for excellence across prominent beef-producing regions, from winning broad ribbons at Far North Queensland shows to securing long-term contracts for Northern Rivers producers in NSW.

DEMAND for Greyman cattle has reached a tipping point for growth in the northern beef industry, where producers are capitalising on the breed’s hybrid vigour to power rapid weight gain and secure premiums in key markets.

Maple Downs Murray Greys Stud Principal, Russell Kidd, who is based at Malanda about an hour and half north-west of Cairns and sells bulls throughout North and Central Queensland, has noticed a surge in interest for Greymans.

“All our clients have a Brahman-based herd and are needing big growth-weight figures across the 200 to 600-day period and require bulls that can thrive in any condition,” Russell said.

Across the stud’s client base, which reaches as far west as Richmond, temperatures can surge past 40 degrees, and for coastal buyers, humidity often sits at 90% in the summer, so bulls need to show resilience and adaptability under these unique and challenging climates.

Tick resilience, a slick coat and calm temperament are also essential for graziers, and the Murray Grey infusion is emboldening these lines with a softness to create better carcass ability.

“The Greymans are throwing flat-back cattle with tremendous weight gain for age, so for producers who are selling weaners off around 200 days, they are securing premium prices at the saleyards,” he said.

“As for the graziers keeping their cattle to mature and finish, they can turn them over around 600 days, opposed to keeping and feeding them for two or two-and-a-half years, which means they are achieving better returns.”

The Kidd family, who have been operating Maple Downs Murray Greys since 2017, founded the stud on superb Wallawong, Monterey and Lindsay Murray Greys genetics. They have a long history with Murray Greys in North Queensland as Russell’s grandfather, Percy Kidd, was the first breeder to introduce Greys north of Rockhampton in the 80s.

The family harnesses the region’s rich red soils, high rainfall of around 2m a year, and rolling hills with mostly Seteria pastures to produce, not only premium lines for their stud, but also high-quality weaners for their commercial operation.

A specific Greyman breeding program was established in 2021 by crossing Maple Downs genetics with Brahman females secured from prominent North Queensland studs.

The results from this breeding strategy have reaped rewards in the showring as Greyman Maple Downs Triumph has won every calf competition on the Far North Queensland show circuit and was crowned Grand Champion Bull at the Cairns Show.

Weighing 540kg, the striking 11-month-old is sired by Maple Downs Quasimodo and out of a Hamnden Vale Brahman female.

Show judges commented the bull had the power to “make a huge impact on the breed”, with one judge, Fiona Pearce, Telpara Hills Brangus, commenting on his tremendous growth, “structural soundness, overall weight for age ratio, and his ability to move freely”.

Russell described Triumph as being an early “standout”.

“From around the time he was four months old he was very impressive,” he said.

“It’s very difficult for a bull that young to go up against older bulls in the showring, but his structure and weight made him a powerhouse. We have had other studs offer to buy him, but we are going to keep him and plan to show him at Beef Australia next year.”

Russell believes Greymans are securing a prominent place in the Northern beef industry, which is building upon the breed’s established reputation in southern markets.

Greymans underwrite long-term supplier contract

Northern Rivers producers, Mike and Kim Kena, are ensuring the demands they have for their breeding herd – including high fertility rates, superb doing ability during harder seasons and explosive weight gain for age across their calves – are being underwritten through harnessing Greyman genetics.

For almost 30 years the couple, who graze their cattle across more than 121ha of land at Larnook, about half an hour north-west of Lismore, has focused on Greymans by infusing Brahman genetics to produce F1 Murray Grey females which go on to directly supply a Lismore butcher shop with their offspring.

“Here on the North Coast, you need a little bit of Brahman content,” Mike said.

“Due to our seasons, we aim for our calves to drop around June, which means the first stage of the calf’s life, around August and September can be dry and challenging on the cow. We need for our cows to be able to look after themselves during this period and be able to look after their calves.

“But first and foremost, our cows have to produce a calf every year and have excellent temperament, we have found our Murray Greys work hard to achieve this for us.”

Mike said the hybrid vigour of introducing Brahman genetics across his Murray Greys fuelled fast growth rates within his calves.

“By the time we get our Spring storms in October, our Greyman calves just take off with their weight gain,” he said.

His calves, both steers and heifers, are sold around eight to ten months old and have consistently averaged about 190kg dress weight, and Mr Kena said the loyalty of his main buyer gave him confidence his stock performed well over the hooks and on the plate.

“Butchers are notorious for giving very little feedback, but the fact we have been supplying them for so long, since 1994, tells us they are happy with our cattle,” he said.

“At one stage we tried a Limousin cross, but our butcher said the fat content was not high enough, so we went straight back to the Greymans.”

Mike, who is now 70 and nearing the end of his cattle career, reflected that the Murray Grey breed had been of great service to his business.

“Our operation is small so we can’t supply quantity. We have to concentrate on quality and Murray Grey and Greyman cattle have certainly provided that for us.”