Ken & Gail Morgan, Gromorbeef – Bonsmara Cattle

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Ken and Gail Morgan immigrated to Australia from South Africa and now run a Bonsmara cattle stud on a beautiful property near Mt Seaview. The Morgan’s operation, Gromorbeef, is centred on the excellent qualities of this particular South African breed of cattle, which Ken says are particularly adaptable to our challenging Australia climate …

Share some of your background with us … You and Gail are originally from South Africa, so what brought you both to Australia?

After having visited our one daughter, Shelayne, her husband Mike, and their little son Jason, who had already moved to Australia from South Africa, we were astounded by the lack of violence and crime here in this country.

It then took a while to have all our ducks in a row in order to immigrate to Australia, but eventually the day arrived!

We arrived in Sydney, Australia, on 2nd July 1999!

We came across on a business visa and had to prove ourselves over the next few years before we could get permanent residency, and then finally our citizenship. That we received on 28th June 2006.

How did you come to own your property, Jabulani, at Mt Seaview? What does “Jabulani” mean?

We had looked right up the North Coast to Bowen and down again in search of a suitable farm and one in our price range. We chose this farm for its aesthetic appeal and its proximity to where Paddy, our son, was based in Sydney, as we bought the farm together.

Paddy is a fully qualified vet, and his first-hand knowledge in South Africa with cattle breeds is what determined our selection of the Bonsmara breed, because of its performance records in South Africa.

We named the farm “Jabulani”, which is a Zulu word meaning “be happy or joyful”. Our intention is for the farm to be economically viable but also to be a blessing to all who visit it, as we have a lot of our family and friends who spend time here with us, and as often as possible.

Describe the property … How many acres/hectares is it, and what’s the overall country/terrain like?

The farm in approximately 500 acres and has almost 4 km of the Hastings River as the one boundary. It is steep, but we have about fifty acres of river flats, which we normally plant to rye grass and clover winter pastures every year.

You run a Bonsmara cattle stud on the property. This is a South African breed, but why do you feel they are ideally suited to the Australian climate?

We run a Bonsmara stud, and we began it by importing Bonsmara embryos from South Africa in 2007. Of the 80 embryos we imported, we got 34 calves.

The Bonsmara breed is the only beef breed in the world created through a well-documented crossbreeding programme with the aid of objectively recorded performance data.

The Bonsmara is a Sanga-derived tropically adapted Bos Taurus breed comprising 5/8 Afrikaaner, 3/16 Hereford and 3/16 Shorthorn. Strict selection for economic factors such as fertility, milk production, growth and adaptability are still applied and are a contributing factor to the Bonsmara becoming the strongest beef breed in South Africa in less than 25 years.

Bonsmara cattle were introduced into Australia in 1998, after the breed was identified as being highly suited to Australia due to similarities between local and South African climate conditions. Both South Africa and parts of Australia experience high external parasite loads, high temperatures and regular periods of low nutritional value across grazing lands. The ability of Bonsmara to not only cope, but adapt and thrive in a wide range of conditions makes them well suited to the tropics and sub-tropics.

Cross-breeding already plays a primary and increasingly important role in commercial beef cattle production worldwide. Researchers believe that more than 70% of the meat produced in the world will be produced by crossbreeding systems in the future. In terms of this, the practice shows that cross bred cows are more fertile, live longer and are naturally more efficient. Crossbred calves are also hardier and have better survival ability as a result of a well-developed immune system. They also grow faster, reach heavier weaning weights and fit better in suboptimal environments. Crossbreeding therefore promotes traits such as fertility, longevity and survival. (J.M. Lepen).

Tell us more about this particular breed of cattle … What are the breed’s biggest advantages?

Some of the benefits of the Bonsmara are:

  • Tropically adapted
  • Hybrid vigour
  • Heat resistant
  • Tick resistant
  • Genetically stable
  • Longevity
  • Excellent meat quality
  • Good temperament
  • Early puberty
  • Superior fertility
  • Ease of calving
  • Small calves
  • Good mothering ability
  • High milk production
  • Rapid growth
  • Feed efficiency

What feedback have you received from the meat industry about the beef produced by Bonsmara cattle?

A stud breeder (Tony Berry) in Queensland had very good results at a carcass competition, but it is still early days and most breeders are retaining stock to build their herds. However, in South Africa the meat is highly sought after.

What’s daily life like on the farm?

Gail writes a blog daily about our life on the farm. This you can find on our website at www.gromorbeef.com.au

Where can readers contact you, find out more info about your stud – or Bonsmara cattle in general?

If anyone would like to contact us for further information on the Bonsmara breed, please contact me, Ken Morgan, on 0414 867 554 or by email at kamorgan@outlook.com or email at kgmorgan@skymesh.com.au

Thanks Ken and Gail.

Interview by Jo Atkins.

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