The Travelling Specialist

Host: Robert Johnstone

If my Dad had it his way, I would be one of a ‘football team of boys’ to help him with the everyday running of our Central Queensland cattle properties. Luckily for Mum, she won the fight, and I am one of three boys who grew up living and loving the country life we were born into.

The moon rising over our home property in Central Queensland.

As a kid, I managed my own herd of ‘mud balls’. After rain, I would go out and carefully muster my stock (mud), process them (roll them into balls) and send them out to pasture to await the next muster (dry them). They were split into bulls, cows, and calves, and I was not too happy if one of my brothers accidentally stood on one causing productivity losses to the herd.

Spayed heifers and steers at home. After on property feed-lotting they will be destined for the European market (EU).

Twenty-two years later, at 27 years of age, not much has changed – except if I could find the time to play in the mud, I would. Having grown up on a mixed farming operation, where we produce both grain and beef cattle, I have had the privilege to experience the highs and lows of both the grain and beef industries. My early involvement in the agricultural industry and my passion for cattle led me to enrol at the University of Queensland, Gatton campus following a year off after finishing High School. I had a keen interest in Animal reproduction, genetics, pregnancy testing, artificial insemination, and business; so naturally, I studied a Bachelor of Applied Science majoring in Production Animal Science and Rural Business Management. Had I known what career I would fall into post-uni, it would have made life much easier if I’d completed my vet degree instead.

I have always said that university does not teach you the one specific thing required to be successful. But rather, it provides the environment to culture and extract different ways of thinking and exposes you to many great people, and sometimes that’s all you need to know.

Following university, I managed properties for a family owned cattle company in central Queensland. While I thoroughly enjoyed this position, the stint was relatively short lived, as a horse accident resulting in knee surgery and time on the couch changed my plans. This extended time off with my leg in a splint earnt me the time to think (read: go mad) and ponder what my next move may be. I flippantly enrolled to study Agricultural Economics, thinking that my dodgy-knee would be better suited to an office job, but the calling to be outside, working cattle from dawn until dusk became too great.

As chance would have it, a “crush side” conversation with the man who has spayed and pregnancy tested livestock for more than 40 years across northern Australia, Mr Bryan Hall, led me to begin my next chapter. Travelling distances stretching throughout Queensland, the Northern Territory, and Western Australia, the everyday job of a Bovine Reproduction Specialist has it’s tails, and a lot of dirty laundry!

Bryan Hall and I crush side as Bryan spays a cow. Photo credit: Queensland Country Life.