How Ironbark’s Predictable Genetic Performance Was Built and is Maintained

The Spencers first settled in the Barraba district in the late 1850s. Adrian’s father David was 2nd generation, Adrian is 3rd generation and Adrian and Wendy’s children sons Hugh and Ben and daughter Isabella are the 4th generation of Spencers to be breeding Herefords at Ironbark, Barraba, NSW Australia. David and Margret Spencer Adrian’s parents have been a driving force in the success of the Ironbark Hereford stud.

Ironbark has 79 years of stud breeding by one family behind it and ranks high in the Annuals of Hereford history in Australia. It is quite a share in Australia’s 157 years of Hereford improvement and advancement. This has been achieved by dedication, perseverance and performance based on predictable genetic advancement with pure bred, quality, easy care, uniform cattle that will perform, and we proof perform them in our own commercial herd established in 1925.

The stud was founded by the late E.L (Ted) Spencer in 1933 with progeny of KNIGHT WICK BEN (Imp.UK) from Bexley Hereford Stud Australia. The base herd was quickly added to by purchases of famous families all relating to the TOCALS, the herd that made Herefords what they are in Australia today, leaders with a huge pool of genetically proven pure bred cattle of predictable genetic performance. The Ironbark Hereford stud was originally founded for the reason of breeding bulls for its commercial herds.

Sires that followed were of Bexley breeding by FREETOWN STATESMAN, FREETOWN DIRECTOR, EYTON BRIGADIER, SUGWAS DANDY and BEXLEY DEMONSTRATOR. 1950 saw the first direct importation in MARLOW CUPID a son of TARRINGTON DEBONAIR.

Cupids first sons at the R.A.S. Sydney, gained two seconds in the bull classes, a CHAMPION on the Hoof and Hook together with a Reserve Champion hook all in the one show, a record that we still hold without challenge to this day. Incidentally, Ironbark was never out of the ribbons for steers, either hoof or hook (the proof of the pudding), at the R.A.S Sydney for 20 years to 1973, the last year of exhibition in Sydney. Ironbark steers have gained many Ribbons at Barraba and Newcastle in TRADE and EXPORT CLASSES.

Bexley Tornado, a massive bull by Tarrington Meteor for perhaps the best Cow ever imported to Australia, Billingsley Quill was followed by Cuppa Cumberland a son of Vern Vereker from Wenlock Gracious, then a son of Rose Bargee (the best Rose bull ever) Bexley Biro again from Billingsley Quill. These bulls left big roomy quality females as did BEXLEY Jensen (Vern JOVIAL) and Bexley Ranger (Rose Bargee). Sons of these bulls, Ironbark Nettle, Navy, Naval, Talisman, Vessell and Whim, to just name a few all gave rapid progression as did Ironbark Irrawaddy, a grandson of Calliope Statesman.

In 1973, David and Margret Spencer took over the running of the Ironbark Hereford Stud and formed Log Cabin Lands along with their children Adrian and Kerry-Ann. The family grew Ironbark Herefords to the operation that it is today. David Spencer was a board member of the Australian Hereford Society for 26 years, was the president for 4 years and was widely regarded as the Hereford breeds most dynamic president.

Adrian and Wendy Spencer and their 3 children Isabella, Hugh and Ben live in the old Mulwarree Homestead where David Spencer was born and EL Spencer lived (Adrian's grandfather). Campbell and Kerry-Ann Tonkin (Adrian's sister) along with their 2 children Amelia and Bill live on Tumlong at Barraba. They own and control the pure bred Ironbark Commercial herd started in 1925. David Spencer passed away in August 2007 aged 87 years. He is survived by Margret Spencer who resides at Log Cabin Barrba. David Spencer was a forward thinking man and his message before he died was keep ploughing on, don't look back.

David Spencer

Beef Industry legend David Spencer passed away on the 21st August 2007 aged 87 yrs. David was a leader and a man of immense vision. He is missed by every person that was fortunate enough to have known him. David was without doubt the most successful man to breed registered Hereford cattle in Australia. David stood the test of time. 

David & Adrian Spencer

'Mary of Maranoa'
The Spencer family are related to the Spencers around Roma and the Ironbark herd to the Roma district (Maranoa). At the beginning of Chapter 17 (p123) 2nd paragraph explains the relationship: "Mary was the daughter of Stephen Spencer of Iron Bark Station, near Barraba, New South Wales." Stephen Spencer is an ancestor of Adrian Spencer and the Spencers all started from Iron Bark Station, Barraba.

[ View Mary of Maranoa PDF ]

Calliope blood was introduced with a son and grandson of Calliope Diamond (Bexley Resolute Golf Hill Resolute Dam) has been another chapter of achievement and advancement at Ironbark. Ironbark Alma went to Bexley in 1974 and at Bexley Dispersal his stock took pride of place for confirmation condition and buyer approval.

Yarram and Invernaion Sires have blended well with our cattle and we have added Charnock Justamere (IMP UTERO UK – CANADA) coupled with a great skinned bull South Boorook MIDWAY 2 by Onslow LEYLAND.

Canadian and American Sires have been introduced into the Ironbark program which these days consists of 1,000 registered cows and 400 commercial cows. Sires that have had a big impact have come from notable Canadian herds like Barpipe, LRD, LCI and Hirsche all leading Hereford herds in Canada. American bulls like HH Homebuilder 603 and recently bulls from Holden Herefords have had a major impact. Australian bulls are the backbone of the Ironbark breeding herd, but we use quite a number of imported sires to keep the gene pool large. A sire group of about 40 bulls mostly AI sires is at our disposal. Check our website to look at our herd sire page. The aim is to select a sire that will genetically enhance the ability of each cow to produce superior off-spring to the seed stock and commercial industries.

Ironbark has an annual bull sale where 220 bulls are offered. In 2001, 230 bulls averaged $7,300 a record for the Hereford breed in Australia. Ironbark has consistently had the leading Hereford sale in Australia for a number of years. The Ironbark program represents over 80 years of genetic strength. The best females have been put back into the Ironbark program consistently over 80 years.

The bulls presented at the sale are from a program where every calf is reared on his own mother in a commercial situation. Criteria are set in the Ironbark breeding program and kept to, enabling milking ability, fertility and doing ability to come to the forefront within the herd.

Genetic progress is a very important factor in breeding superior cattle. Breed Plan is a major help for us to be able to advance genetically. Take notice of the Breed Plan information it is a real indication of how sire lines perform. It tells us a true picture, there is no point using cattle that don’t have genetic strength. This year will represent the first offering sons of GH Neon 17N and GH Rambo 279R some of the Hereford breeds hottest new sire lines. Industry recognition of Ironbark genetics in the breeding, growing, feed lotting, grass fattening and processing sectors is widely trusted and clearly recognised right down the production line.

Ironbark has exported Hereford heifers and bulls to Russia. Adrian Spencer has been to Russia and was impressed with how the cattle had acclimatised and were performing.

Ironbark is in its 80th year, is as strong as ever, the future is in good hands and we are like the Hereford breed - Built in Rock!


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