By Emma Blom
Tucked away in Clarence Valley along the coast of Kaikōura, the Murrays have been working as a family unit since 1953 to breed Hereford cows for the domestic and international markets.
Jack Murray grew up with breeding Herefords, inheriting the passion and skills from his father and grandfather – and working with them to grow the holdings into a 650-cow stud over four properties.
Although the Angus breed has taken off, leaving Herefords behind, Murray still stands by Herefords. The quiet nature and good temperament of the cows make them pleasant animals to work with, he said.
Herefords are also very efficient animals, he said, and Matariki stud has been working on their genetics to get a pure-polled animal.
New genomics technology gives an in-depth understanding of the animals’ genotypes, leading to genetic gains.
Originally the herd came from horned cows, but after years of careful selection the animals coming through the herd are all polled.
Recently the commercial black heifers were muscle-scanned, giving access to new carcase data.
This has had great benefits for the Hereford cows. Matariki has the advantage of a large herd size, and this new data allows for better animals to be identified and developed further.
In recent times Matariki Stud sold two bulls with semen rights to Australia.
“Working flat out as one,” which is how Jack Murray characterises the family ethos, allows for much easier forward progress and uses everyone’s skills.
The family winters 2,400 stock units with “plenty of development to go further”, Murray said.
Lambs are transferred between blocks, as are steers.
It’s important for the stud to satisfy clients’ demands including the appropriate numbers for the next sale.
The NZ Hereford tour that visited Matariki stud was the first major tour Murray has been involved in. The family’s animals are usually showcased at the annual bull sale.
He said he appreciates the fact that the most passionate Hereford breeders of New Zealand are able to have a good look at his animals and “see a whole bigger picture” of the stud operations, from the bulls, heifers, calves and cows to the family involvement in the business.
Blom is being sponsored by Public Interest Journalist Funding and AgriHQ on the NZ Hereford Tour