Near miss for Angus stud

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Bob GarnantThe West Australian
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Mordallup Angus stud will reach a milestone in 2016 - its 40th annual bull sale - but a recent bushfire could have put everything on hold.

Two days after lightning strikes started the recent Unicup blaze, white smoke appeared on the Muir family's property - grazing paddocks were alight.

Mordallup principals Graham and Gail Muir and son Mark made their way to the back paddocks at 4pm to fight the fire, leaving instructions for Mark's daughter, Diana, 16, to begin moving six paddocks of cattle to the safety of the holding yards.

The Harvey Agricultural College student quickly motorcycled down to the first paddock to find the cows waiting at the dam and ready to escape down the laneway.

"I could see fire approaching, smoke was stinging my eyes," Diana said. "The fire was fast moving with strong winds, my heart was racing."

With the first paddock of cows safely moving in the right direction, the next encounter was to test the easy rider's staying power.

"The next paddock was full of yearling bulls and they were panicked, running everywhere," she said.

"They were in shock - smoke, helicopter noise, and support vehicles crisscrossing the paddock, it was panic stations.

"As I turned the young bulls towards the laneway, they finally spotted and followed the cows to safety.

"I was trying to move the cattle quickly and it was getting difficult to breathe, but a little relief was felt when a spray of dam water fell on me from the helicopters."

After more than three hours, Diana's urgent rescue of 150 cows and 70 bulls was finally over as the fire was contained just shy of the stud sire paddock, which was a close call for the stud's onset.

"I was completely exhausted but relieved that all of the cattle were safe," she said.

When Diana's grandparents arrived back they shuddered to find how close the fire was to their livestock and homestead.

"Diana did an excellent job of moving the stock, especially being her first real fire emergency on the home property," Gail said.

"All of our young ones are very conscious of what needs to be done; I would not have expected anything less."

Mark was also very proud of his daughter's instincts to protect the cattle.

"The fire could have taken out our whole farm, it was the first fire that has made such an impact - destroying 14km of fence, 250 acres of pasture, 200 acres of bush, but luckily no stock loss," he said.

"The local support was fantastic."

The Muirs successfully hosted their 39th annual bull sale last week and, with the family's brave new generation coming of age, they are hoping to have many more sales, whatever natural disasters they may face.

Graham Muir said he was proud of his family.

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