Honour for Koojan Hills stalwart

Bob GarnantCountryman
Lew Smit shows some stud history with Koojan Hills Champion, which was judged the reserve champion at the 1977 Sydney Royal Show and sold for $5200.
Camera IconLew Smit shows some stud history with Koojan Hills Champion, which was judged the reserve champion at the 1977 Sydney Royal Show and sold for $5200. Credit: Bob Garnant

A tribute to well-known cattle breeder Lew Smit will take place at Mercure Bunbury Sanctuary Golf Resort on Thursday, July 28, after an Angus regional forum.

Mr Smit was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2013 for services to the livestock industry, particularly involving the Angus and Murray Grey breeds.

The Smit family ran the very successful Koojan Hills Angus stud in Kojonup for 53 years.

Lew and his wife Pam sold the stud as a going concern last year and held their last on-property bull sale in February, setting a new WA record average price of $10,788, for 52 bulls sold, only for that record to be broken again in the same week by another prominent Angus stud.

The Smit family also ran a Murray Grey stud, but eventually sold it to specialise in Angus because of the progressive stature of the breed.

Mr Smit said Angus was the first to use Estimated Breeding Values and the technology helped pave the way towards improved progress.

EBVs are predictions of an animal’s genetic merit, based on available performance data on the individual and its relatives.

In the Koojan Hills’ last sale catalogue, Mr Smit wrote, “at Koojan Hills, we believe that breeding for structural soundness, an acceptable type and a quiet temperament is the basis on which any successful breeding policy should be based”.

“In addition, we have embraced the incorporation of science into our programme through the use of Breedplan technology, which quantifies the important economic traits such as birth weight, growth, milk, carcase and fertility, which are all important determinants of profitability.”

Mr Smit also cautioned that Breedplan quantified the traits that it measured, but it did not select the best animal for all situations.

“In some environments or breeding systems, the animal with the highest figures or indexes many not be the most appropriate animal to invest in.”

Koojan Hills Angus bulls were always in demand as evident of long-time repeat buyers returning to the sale year after year.

Former Elders auctioneer Dennis Roberts, who conducted the sale for many years, once said “it doesn’t get any better”, referring to the quality on offer over the years.

Koojan Hills bulls were also sold regularly to the Eastern States, with repeat buyer Sue Ray, of Holbrook, NSW, usually securing a volume of bulls each year.

“Lew and I go back a long way as both friends and associates during the Murray Grey days, after which he continued to supply me with great advice and excellent Angus bulls,” Ms Ray said.

Also scheduled before Mr Smit’s tribute, Angus Australia will be holding a regional forum at the resort from 1-4.30pm.

The theme — Genomics in a Modern Angus Beef Business — will focus on the opportunities to use the ever-increasing range of genomic technologies in Angus beef-breeding operations.

The forum will be delivered by Angus Australia chief executive Peter Parnell, breed development and extension manager Andrew Bryne and former Angus Australia president Peter Grieve OAM.

On Friday, July 29, the WA Angus Committee is holding a meeting for its members at the resort from 9am, which will include speakers Paul Wynne-Houchin, on Bovine Herpes Virus, while Graham Nixon will give an update on Bovine Johnes Disease.

While the Angus forum has free entry, the testimonial dinner, which starts at 6.15pm, has a fee of $85 a head.

Bookings and payment can be made by contacting the resort on 9725 2777 by Wednesday, July 20.

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