The history of the Barwidgee Angus herd stretches back to the early days of the development of the Western district and is strongly intertwined and influenced by the history of the property Barwidgee.
The legacy of the late Charles Kelly of pasture improvement, intensive stocking, and leading edge Angus genetics has continued throughout the generations of Kelly’s.
On a trip through England and Scotland in 1924, Charles and Gwen, (Gwen Affleck was married to Charles in 1920), were both very impressed by what the farmers were doing to improve their production off small parcels of land. On returning home to Barwidgee, fertilizer was spread with a seed drill drawn by draught horses, the response was dramatic. Soon clover and rye grass were established.
The Barwidgee Angus Stud was formed in 1946 with females from Kahlua and Bald Blair. At that time a large commercial herd was also run. In 1962 Barwidgee hosted the first on-property stud sale and has continued to do so ever since. In 1963 Charles Kelly died. Leaving the Angus stud in the capable hands of Gwen Kelly, Barwidgee continued on to great success with shows and sales. Barwidgee Angus was awarded broad ribbons at numerous Sydney and Melbourne Royals. Some of the sale highlights were in 1972 when Barwidgee Potter was sold for export to New Zealand, and 1976 when a group of stud heifers was sold to Scotland.
In 1980 after another successful show season Barwidgee Isobyx T50 was sold at Suzuki for an Australasian record of $14,500. Gwen Kelly’s contribution to the Angus breed was recognized in 1980 when she was awarded life membership to the Angus Society. In the 1990’s the herd book registered animals in the Barwidgee herd were dispersed.
In tandem with this great show ring success Colin Kelly was developing one of the leading performance recorded herds in Australia. Colin Kelly the eldest son of Charles Kelly could see that there was more to a top herd than show ring success. In 1960 he commenced performance recording. At that time this was cutting edge pioneering thinking, similar in magnitude to his fathers application of super phosphate. After nearly 50 years the focus on performance is unchanged with successive management continuing to focus the selection of genetics in the herd to those things that contribute to profitability. As always the herd has had to develop in synchronization with Barwidgee, over the years Barwidgee has continued to remain an intensively stocked property at the cutting edge of accepted best farm practice.
2007 marked a new development for Barwidgee with the development of a spring production sale. The 650 performance recorded cows now produce around 120 Angus bulls and 80 seedstock females for sale yearly. The focus is still firmly on the legacy Charles Kelly established all those years ago from the humble beginnings of a few bags of super spread by horses.