If the Kirk family’s Rockley Red Brahman Stud was a sporting team, its journey over the past three years would be described as one of the great all-time comebacks.
As has been widely documented in the rural media, the family’s highly regarded 61-year-old stud was almost crippled by an industry imposed quarantine and eradication policy after three Rockley cows tested positive to Bovine Johne’s Disease in November 2012.
The justification of the severe eradication policy for a disease many experts have argued is of little consequence to northern cattle production enterprises sparked an industry backlash which prompted a national policy review and what now appears to be a likely change in direction for the way BJD detections are managed in future.
Three years on, the Kirks say they are still recovering from the crippling financial and emotional impact, but are gratified to say their stud is now back and ready to return to the selling ring.
The Rockley Brahman Stud will officially return to the market at the Big Country Brahman Sale at Charters Towers on February 1 and 2 next week.
They will present three bulls at the sale.
It may be a far cry from past sales when Rockley offered dozens of bulls, but next week’s sale will represent a significant milestone for father and son team Chris and Ashley Kirk.
“To say we’re excited is an understatement,” Ashley Kirk said.
“It’s been a long time coming.
“We’ve dealt with a lot of important issues, and we’ve had to overcome huge challenges, but if there’s a silver lining to be found it’s what we’ve learned from the experience.
“This includes quality processes we’ve put in place that have cemented our absolute commitment to breeding truly elite Red Brahmans.”
The Kirks have put this hard-won knowledge into action as evidenced by their well-documented processes that include Rockley’s advanced IVF/genetics breeding processes; their Elite Weaner Program, low stress handling techniques and science-led nutrition.
They have also continued to be active in supporting the cattle industry in general, by continuing to work closely with officials to create draft guidelines and policy that would view BJD in Australia as a biosecurity issue that can be effectively managed on-farm.
For those attending the Big Country Brahman Sale and interested in Rockley stud bulls look for Lot 69 – Rockley Diplothia, Lot 70 – Rockley Roundstone and Lot 7 1– Rockley Red Gum.