The McGregor family purchased Willalooka Station from the White family in 1958, together with their Angus herd of Belltrees and Hazeldean bloodlines.
As part of a bid to boost growth and size, 20 Murray Grey cows and three bulls were purchased in 1965 from the Glen and Cudellan Park. The 170 Willalooka Angus cows were recorded in the Murray Grey herd book as approved Angus and by the mid 1990’s, Willalooka Murray Greys had become the top-performing stud. In order to continue to achieve further top-performers, Willalooka started using leading Angus sires for further genetic enhancement.
By the late nineties, there was a decline in demand for Grey genetics. In 1998, Willalooka established a purebred Angus herd based on 13 donor cows. These animals were used in a large embryo transfer program with the calves forming the basis of the 500-head stud 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 in the early 2000s, Willalooka purchased The Basin stud of 800 registered easy-care, structurally sound, proven cattle with strong carcass traits. Established in 1961 at Keith in the SE of South Australia by Don Moyle, later managed by Bruce & Libby Creek (Libby the daughter of Don), the stud was moved to Riverleas on Kangaroo Island, SA, in 1999. The stud sold around 300 bulls in SA and QLD, as well as breeding a number under contract to suit specific EBV requirements of a Northern Territory pastoral client.
The Basin herd was renowned for its doing ability and structural soundness having been classed by independent assessor, Jim Green from Culcairn in NSW—a well-known face in the Angus stud world. Jim’s assessments have played an important role in ensuring the continuing structural strength of the herd.
The Basin’s emphasis had been on New Zealand bloodlines and with a small amount of genetics used from the USA. This assisted to evolve the cattle into a high performing herd displaying tremendous thickness, capacity and excellent carcass traits.
The combination of these two genetic pools resulted in one of the largest registered herds in Australia. The aim at Willalooka Basin has always been to produce highly fertile, easy-care, affordable bulls for the commercial producer. Over 250 bulls were sold in South Australia and Queensland until 2010 when the strategic decision was made to switch the business focus to a commerical cattle operation and exit the seedstock business.
The female herd was pregnancy tested and classed by Dick Whale as a pair. The top quality PTIC animals with a calf at foot were then sold in a stud dispersal sale. Around 200 females were sold, plus all bulls. The remaining stud cows formed the basis of the quality herd that still exists today.
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.
Registered bulls are still produced from a select group of registered cows, all of which are AI mated. This ensures the quality of genetics in the commercial herd. This small stud herd is managed by Dick Whale from Independent Breeding & Marketing Services. Dick spent five years as the Angus Herd Manager at Trangie Research Station, 10 years as livestock manager at ICM feedlots and properties and eight years with Elders Breeding Services before setting up his own business. Dick has been closely involved in selecting the genetics for Willalooka from its inception as a small Murray Grey stud through to today where he is still classing and overseeing the genetics.