Born and bred on the NSW North Coast, Michael Fahey was first introduced to the Brahman breed while he was working on the Innes family’s Walla Brahman Stud near Gin Gin for five years.
When he returned to his home property ‘Nettle Creek’ on the Clarence River, he brought with him his bride, Elizabeth (‘Bizzy’) Innes and a shared love and appreciation of Brahman cattle.
The base herd at Nettle Creek was Hereford, so the Faheys first ventured into breeding Braford cattle and in 1976, Michael and Elizabeth founded their Brahman stud, Bizzy Brahman Stud (#1392), with strong influences from Walla, Avondale, Waverly and Cherokee bloodlines.
Having been very active in promoting the Brahman breed along the NSW coast and up over the range through the show circuit, Michael and Elizabeth have now achieved generational succession of their stud and business to their son, Innes, and his wife Jessica.
“At the end of 2020, Jessica and I bought the Bizzy herd and have relocated the stud to our own property, ‘Rocky Creek’, which is also on the Clarence River,” said Innes. “The herd is now predominantly red and we are keen to keep a focus on further development of the polled genetics in the herd.”
“Having said this, there is strong local demand for both horned and polled bulls sold through the Bizzy Jomanda annual sale, and genetic diversity is important to us and to the breed,” he said.
In addition to the Bizzy prefix, Innes and Jessica also run the Rocky Creek Brangus stud, producing mainly commercial bulls for local breeders. The two studs run alongside a commercial herd of 200 Brahman breeders that are mated with Charolais, Angus and Simmental bulls to produce F1 steers and heifers for the weaner market.
Innes founded Bizzy F in 2017 and he and Jessica have sold a small number of bulls at the local sale. Last year Bizzy F offered three head, one bull and two females, at the Bizzy Jomanda Sale to average $9833 and topped the sale with a polled red heifer Bizzy F Queen who sold for $15,000 to Diddine Brahman Stud.
2020 was the first year that Innes and Jessica had catalogued Bizzy F bulls in the Rockhampton Brahman Week Sale. It had been over 10 years since the Fahey family had last sent Bizzy bulls to the Rockhampton sale.
“In the last five years we have been concentrating our efforts on the annual sale we do in partnership with the Johnson family’s Jomanda stud,” said Innes. “We were keen to re- connect with the Rockhampton sale and selected two bulls we thought would suit the northern market as first time vendors.”
Although the trip to Rockhampton is a long one, Innes and Jessica want to continue offering small drafts at the elite sale.
“The sale we have in conjunction with Jomanda has been a wonderful way to market our bulls to producers in the north coast region – mainly from Murwullimbah in the north to Taree in the south and everywhere in between,” said Innes. “The buyers at the Bizzy Jomanda sale generally have a commercial orientation and are looking for bulls that can be put straight to work in our coastal environment.”
Innes and Jessica are also keen to ramp-up their participation on the show circuit. Innes is very familiar with showing, having prepared and shown Bizzy cattle at shows throughout northern NSW as a youngster.
“We are keen to foster our children’s interests in the cattle and know that the show ring is a great way to promote our brand,” he said.
Rocky Creek, the new home of the Bizzy herd, is 450 ha property with 4 km frontage on the Clarence River, near Copmanhurst, 40 km northwest of Grafton, NSW. The pastures are a mix of native and naturalised species such as paspalum, blady grass and Wynn cassia, on gently undulating spotted gum country. Innes and Jessica are implementing pasture renovation in suitable paddocks to clean up woody regrowth and improve the fertility of the soil with oaten pasture and soybeans, baled and wrapped for silage.
Innes said they are keen to maximise the potential of the land they have rather than expanding by buying extra country.
“We were badly affected by the recent drought years and then the heavy rain this year has been mainly beneficial because our home farm is not prone to extensive flooding,” he said. “We have a lease block and it was flooded but we were able to shift the cattle and suffered no losses – unlike many producers further south around Taree.”
The Bizzy herd is currently around 70 cows and Innes and Jessica are building their numbers with replacement heifers aiming to reach around 100 breeders in the longer term. This will support the annual production of about 30 or 40 sale bulls.
Being a relatively small stud they also see the opportunities that artificial fertility programs offer. In 2020 they conducted their first IVF program with five of their most successful females to produce 20 embryos, and are looking forward to the arrival of the calves in August.
“We bought semen from proven bulls and chose our females from dam lines that have thrown-on well,” said Innes. “It would be 10 or 12 years since the last round of IVF was done in the Bizzy herd. We see IVF and ET as a great way for us to make the most of our proven females. We will retain some heifers from our commercial herd to use as recipient cows to support the expansion of our IVF program.”
Innes says their main buyers are looking for very functional, moderate-framed bulls. Fertility and temperament are highly valued, and the bulls must be low maintenance and throw beefy cross- bred calves.