By Emma Blom
Rob and Mary Ann Burrows are the proud owners of Beechwood Polled Herefords alongside Rob, Julie and Roz Stokes in a share farm operation.
Rob Burrows’ mother started the horned Hereford herd back in 1962 after being given Herefords by her husband. Sixty-one years later the Herefords are still a big part of the family.
The Beechwood Herefords came from the Williams family in West Coast and the Buicks in Wairarapa. Over the years selective breeding has produced some wonderful bulls, including Incognito 70 and In time 7. Burrows focuses on keeping birth weight well below average and all the other traits well above.
This means the sires are fit for the dairy-beef industry, with smaller offspring easier for dairy cattle to calve and a promising growth rate. If the sires are successful in the programme, 10,000 semen straws will be used in the dairy sector.
The Burrows moved from Culverden to an 8ha block on the outskirts of Rangiora, Canterbury. Shortly after that they expanded the property, purchasing the 37ha block from the neighbours and are currently leasing 35ha at Leithfied. This enables the stud to have a 300-cow herd with eight yearling bulls used between the home block and Less Valley, where the Herefords are wintered.
Girl 510 of 2005 has been Burrows’ highlight, consistently getting in calf after the first cycle and raising 18 calves in 16 years, including two sets of twins. Burrows is expecting another calf from her this season. Over winter, when the 70 heifers are on kale, the old girls get “some ‘extra tender love and care”, Burrows said. Another special mention goes out to Bull 17, with a scrotal size Estimated Breeding Value of 5.2.
The contract between Stokes and Burrows for the stud was professionally drafted – but eight years later the pages still do not carry a signature because “the two Robs are easygoing”, said Burrows. The strong relationship allows for Beechwood Poll Herefords to thrive, with all parties involved to working together for the future. They have agreed, verbally, to a succession plan for the stud.
On March 16 at 7pm Beechwood will have 10 pregnancy-tested, in-calf Hereford heifers up for auction on bidr. The Burrows will donate all of the proceeds from Lot 1 to the NZ Hereford Youth programme.
Blom is being sponsored by Public Interest Journalist Funding and AgriHQ on the NZ Hereford Tour