Our small herd of cattle are Murray Greys.
The Murray Grey breed was developed in the upper Murray River region of Australia in the early part of the 20th century. The first grey cattle resulted from the mating of an Angus bull and a roan Shorthorn cow with 13 calves of the same colour being born at the Sutherland family's Thologolong property and kept originally as curiosities. In fact this chance breeding was a bit of an embarrassment appearing in a herd of black Angus cattle.
It was found that two or three crosses of the greys produced a very high percentage of grey cattle, combining features of the Beef Shorthorn and Angus breeds. They were kept separate from the other herd and a distinct breed was gradually established. Commercial cattlemen became interested in the breed’s rapid growth and high carcase yield, and several developed grey herds.
In recent years, the development and popularity of the breed has increased. A breed society was formed in 1962 and now over 1000 studs are to be found throughout Australia.
The Murray Grey is found in most good rainfall areas in Australia, particularly in Victoria and southern New South Wales.
They are natural polls and range in colour from silver to dark grey, with dark skin pigmentation, which makes them less susceptible to skin or eye problems in severe climates. They have proved adaptable to most climatic conditions.
Murray Greys are ‘easy care’ cattle. The breed is medium in size, early to mid-maturing and is recognised for its good temperament. Cows calve easily and milk well to rear quick-growing calves. Possibly the breed is best known for its high-yielding carcases with excellent eye muscle and optimum fat cover.
Furthermore, the Murray Grey is an excellent cross with Bos Indicus, British or European breeds. The breed’s attributes of easy calving, docility, marbling, fertility and carcase quality are all evident in the crossbred progeny.
The permanent herd on this property consists of six breeders. They usually produce 4-5 calves every 18 months or so. At least one of those is a bull so we have the basis for the next generation. Bulls and heifers are generally sold within that 18 month period although a good heifer will be kept and a poorly performing cow sold in her place.
This is by no means a profitable business. The cost of Rural Land Protection Board fees, winter feed and veterinary supplies is just covered by the sale price.
But they are nice to have around and are great lawn mowers!