Willalooka Basin runs around 2000 Angus Breeding cows at 'Willalooka'. Heifers have all been kept in recent years to build numbers.
Quality assurance accreditations, including EU, MN3, CattleCare & PCAS (Pasture Certification Assurance Scheme) - a new accreditation scheme which has been developed to give consumers the assurance animals have not consumed grain and are lifetime traceable.
Steers are prodominately sold to the feedlot market, however sales as MSA Angus Beef or to the EU market have also been considered for a proportion of newly-weaned cattle, or, at the other end of the spectrum, those which have been kept and grown out on grass. The Willalooka Basin cattle are well known by a majority of major operators, and their performance is strong across the range of market specifications. Extensive carcass evaluation work has been carried out, and feedback continues to be positive.
Empty heifers are prodominately grown out and sold as MSA AA or EU also. There will be PTIC heifers and cows avaliable when the numbers have been rebuilt to required levels.
The Willalooka Basin seedstock herd is spring calving and based at Mt Torrens in the Adelaide Hills at 'Roskhill'. 100 cows and 30 heifers are all artificially inseminated, on occasion sourcing particular genetics in order to add new quality genetics to the herd. All calves are weighed as newborn calves, 200, 400 and 600 days and scanned for caracass qualities and performance recorded with the Angus Society. Dick Whale classes and oversees genetic selection, and has been involved with the business for over a two decades. A limited number of quality bulls are available for private sale each year.
The McGregor family purchased Willalooka from the White Family in 1958 together with the Angus herd of Belltrees and Hazeldean bloodlines.
In 1965, in search of increased growth and size, 20 Murray Grey cows and three bulls were purchased from the Glen and Cudellan Park. The 170 Willalooka Angus cows were recorded in the Murray Grey herd book as approved Angus - the largest number of recorded approved Angus from one herd in the Murray Grey breeds foundation. This saw the beginning of the Willalooka Murray Grey enterprise, and back then, the Murray Grey cattle outperformed the others in all key traits: high growth rates; marbling characteristics; doability and calving ease. By the mid 1990s Willalooka Murray Greys had become the top performing stud by any measurement. In order to get further genetic enhancement, Willalooka started to use leading Angus sires.
By the late '90's the commercial industry was starting to make a greater distinction between Grey and Black cattle, and as a result there was a declining demand for Grey genetics and in 1998 Willalooka established a pure bred Angus herd based on 13 specially selected donor cows. These cows were selected for structural soundness, fertility and a balance of all production traits, including carcase qualities. These core animals were used in a large embryo transfer program, as well as some natural breeding. In 1999, 59 pure Angus calves were produced, building on the 108 registered stud and APR females that formed the basis of the 500 registered breeder herd. The stud went from selling 56 Murray Greys and 53 Angus in 2003 to 39 Murray Greys and 89 Angus in 2009.
In the middle of the worst drought in 40 years Willalooka purchased The Basin stud. 800 registered easy care, structurally sound proven cattle with strong carcase traits traits. The Basin was established in 1961 at Keith in the SE of SA. In 1999 the Stud was moved to Riverleas on Kangaroo Island, SA. The stud sold around 300 bulls in SA and QLD, as well as breeding a number under contract to suit specifc EBV requirement of an NT pastoral client.
The Basin herd has prided itself on its doing ability and structural soundness. The herd has been classed by the Independent assessor, Jim Green from Culcairn in NSW. He has been structurally assessing The Basin herd for 12 years and played an important role in ensuring the continuing structural strength of the herd. The Basins recent emphasis has been on New Zealand bloodlines, with smaller amounts of genetics used from the USA. This has helped the cattle evolve into a high performing herd displaying tremendous thickness, capacity and excellent carcase traits.
The combination of these two genetic pools resulted in one of the largest registered herd in Australia. The stud alwasys aimed to produce highly fertile, easy care affordable bulls to the commercial producer. Over 250 bulls were sold in SA and Queensland until 2010 when the strategic decision was made to change th focus on the business back the commerical cattle operation and exit the seedstock business. The female herd was classed and pregnancy tested and everything classed by Dick Whale as a pair, and then top quality PTIC animals with a calf at foot were sold in a stuf dispersal sale. Around 200 females were sold and all bulls. The remaining stud cows formed the basis of the quality herd that still exists today.
Registered bulls are still produced from a select group of registered cows, all of which are AI mated. This ensures the quality of the genetics in the commercial herd.
The select group of Stud Murray Grey cows were sold to S Kidman & Co. to continue to breed Tuli Murray Grey composite bulls for their requirements in Northern Australia.