Memberships – Chris
Chairman of Landcare
Bajool Rodeo & Campdraft Committee
Rural Fire Brigade
Words such as calm, genuine and committed to farm and family, perfectly describe Chris and Sally Kirk of Rockley Brahmans Stud.
For Chris, a fascination with genetics dates back to his school days some 40 years ago. Since then, an in-depth knowledge has sustained his direction and focus for choosing stud bulls and finding the traits that best suit Rockley’s clients.
A former teacher, Sally’s key roles as wife, mother and bookkeeper have supported both the extended Kirk family and the business for several decades. Her organisation skills and reliability are considered an asset.
Over three generations, Rockley Brahmans Stud has built a solid reputation as superior breeders of elite Red Brahmans and preferred suppliers of quality herd bulls.
Born in Mundubbera, Queensland, Chris moved to Rockley when he was 9. After leaving boarding school he worked there with his father, Arnie. When he was 21, the ownership of Rockley was put into his name. Apart from short periods on properties in Nebo, Marlborough, Clermont and Theodore, Rockley is where Chris has spent his working life.
In 1995, Arnie passed away and soon after Chris’s son, Ashley, left school and came to work with him on Rockley. Today, Kirk family properties include Rockley at Bajool, Ungarra at Moura and Cedars at Banana, each within 200km of Rockhampton.
Rockley Brahmans’ major clients are commercial bull buyers, and it is Chris’s focused and thoughtful understanding of their requirements that guides his business decisions and success. For him, it is a question of ethics and professional integrity to present to a client a line of cattle of the highest quality. With the goal of producing elite Red Brahmans, Chris has always been open to new ideas and keen to embrace change in order to benefit buyers, the animals, the business and the industry as a whole.
By way of example of this innovative approach, in the early 1980’s Arnie and Chris sourced breeding stock from America. Their objective was to use Embryo Transfer and Artificial Insemination to introduce new blood into their Red Brahman herd.
Following many years of success using American Red Brahman genetics, Chris and Ashley again broke new ground by using imported Grey Brahman semen in Rockley ET programmes. Positive results in the sales ring have since demonstrated the wisdom of this decision in the development of premium product.
With animal welfare central to Rockley’s business practices, Chris has value-added on all of the properties by improving water infrastructure; upgrading windmills with solar power; and renewing and repairing old yards and fences. However, planting 200 acres of leucaena at the Cedars property proved to be a master stroke, to the extent that Rockley bulls were able to gain and maintain their weight during winter for Northern clients. Recognising the potential for land improvement elsewhere, Chris then purchased Ungarra and has since planted a further 800 acres of leucaena.
Rockley Brahmans Stud was quarantined in November 2012 after three stud cows tested positive for Bovine Johne’s Disease. Despite the significant financial and emotional challenges, the experience has nevertheless strengthened the family’s resolve and built a newfound resilience into the business.
During this period, Chris and Sally took time to reflect and as a result, their passion to breed elite Red Brahmans has both endured and grown. What is more, they have become aware of industry-wide issues and opportunities which further build their own expertise and which they generously share with their industry peers and clients.
Chris acknowledges his father’s strong influence in his life, teaching him to breed cattle and look continually for ways to add value to the farming business. He also credits his mother Isabel’s keen interest in gardening as the inspiration for his hands-on approach to responsible land care. Chris’s hobby interests include wood and metalwork. He has an ultralight plane which he uses mainly for work, but also admits occasionally for pleasure. When he can get away, he enjoys traveling overseas to spend time with family. Naturally curious, Chris finds something to pique his interest wherever he goes.
Sally appreciates the education her parents were able to provide for her despite financial hardship, and values her balanced upbringing – school in the city and home in the country. Committed to her family and friends, Sally enjoys yoga and maintaining her personal fitness.