A vintage drop of Belmont Red is up for grabs
THERE are some new 30-year vintages about to hit the market but these sure won’t arouse the curiosity of sommeliers.
Scientific advancements mean bull semen is no longer needed by Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO.
Stock - including the Belmont Red bred at, and named after CSIRO’s former North Rockhampton cattle research station at Belmont - will be auctioned to raise money for the charities Drought Angels, the Queensland Country Women’s Association and Beyond Blue.
In a blast from the past, the genetic material from a range of rare cattle breeds will give breeding societies and producers the chance to bring back older breeds whose genetic stock isn’t readily available anymore.
The samples were gathered in the 1980s and 90s, meaning another generation of Gen X and Gen Y cattle could be born in coming years.
CSIRO began cattle genetics and breeding research in the 1950s for the Australian beef industry when animals had to be bred to be studied. But these studies now take place at the genetic level.
Since the completion of the cattle genome sequence in 2009, research into selective breeding and improving cattle herd genetics has moved into the digital age with observational studies, statistical imputation and machine learning replacing the much slower and more expensive traditional methods.
CSIRO livestock geneticist Dr Sigrid Lehnert said most of the samples are from hybrid species developed by crossing tropical breeds, known as Bos indicus, with the traditional British Bos taurus breeds.
“CSIRO was the first in Australia to blend multiple Bos indicus and Bos taurus cattle breeds to create ‘tropical composite’ cattle that were more heat tolerant and tick resistant and therefore better suited to our climates,” she said.
“With the new genetics we were instrumental in helping the livestock industry improve and diversify the genetic quality of the national herd.
“CSIRO works closely with rural communities to build drought resilience, but in addition to our scientific innovation we also wanted to do something to help out charities supporting people on the land during this tough time.”
In addition to the Belmont Red, Tuli, Brahman, Adaptaur, Red Angus, Afrikaner, Simbrah, Charbray and other breeds’ stocks will also be on offer.
However, for potential buyers, it could turn out to be more of a lottery.
Dr Lehnert said CSIRO can’t guarantee that the semen is still viable after all this time and there is no genetic information on the bulls.
Nearly 5000 ‘straws’ of semen are on offer. Breeding societies and cattle farmers can visit Auctions Plus online to check lots and place bids. The auction is open 27-29 November 2019.
Beef Breeding Services, where the semen has been stored for several decades, the online livestock auction house, Auctions Plus, and SBB/GDL, the participating livestock agent, are all donating their services to help as much of the funds raised get to charity as possible.