The Introduction of Bonsmara's into Australia

The very first introduction to Bonsmara cattle in South Africa came in 1984 when I traveled as tour leader with a group of Belmont Red breeders and other invited cattlemen to see the breed which had been developed similarly; although previously, to our CSIRO developed Belmont Red and also inspect the comparisons with the Belmont Red/Bonsmara cattle bred with BR semen provided by co-operators in Australia (Belmont Research Station, Tremere and Mt Eugene) for use in the project. Other cattle breeds of interest to all our group were also included in the tour.

The hospitality and camaraderie of the R.S.A cattlemen made the trip a huge success, and impressed upon us the necessity to import some of the livestock to Australia in spite of the ban on imports due to the threat of Foot and Mouth disease which was endemic in R.S.A.

This reality had to be accepted and the path for importations would prove to be long, slow and expensive. 

Firstly the protocol had to be established to allow importation from a Foot and Mouth disease endemic country.

The opportunity  to get started came in 1992, when CSIRO called for co-operators to financially assist the importation of Boran and Tuli embryos from South Africa which culminated in Boran and Tuli weaners being discharged from a Russian Antinov aircraft, out of Cocos Island, into Melbourne and Rockhampton.

As one of the participants tritely described the following months and years of embryo selection, implant, success and failure, “I wouldn’t have missed it for quids, and there were plenty of them!

There were enough successes to establish the Boran and Tuli breeds and even more importantly, for us, this event opened the door for the first importation of Bonsmaras in a joint venture organised by Swin Hudson, between Tremere Pastoral and Arthur de Villiers and Son, one of the leading Bonsmara breeders in South Africa.

The ambition has been completed. The surrogate dams commenced calving – Then another disaster !! Pestivirus. A disease, which has not been a major problem in calving cattle in Central Qld previously, spread through many herds and many breeds. Calves premature through to full term twins were still born. It was totally unexpected and prompted the development of a vaccine which we have today; but it reduced our numbers dramatically.

The survivors were gratefully received and so the Bonsmara breed had arrived from Africa. More embryos entered from the USA, and the gene pool expanded. It was a final success which none of us would have missed for quids.

Morton Hudson


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