The Belle Bruce Reid Roll of Honour

Schwilk, Isabel medal

Dr ISABEL SCHWILK
ADAIR SHORTHORNS, NANDILLYAN PONDS, ORANGE

Isabel was one of four female graduates from Sydney University in 1955 from where she developed her total commitment to the scientific breeding of cattle and the incorporation of sound animal welfare and husbandry practices in herd management. With her husband Owen she established the Adair Poll Shorthorn Stud on the outskirts of Sydney and then moved to the Central Tablelands in 1966.

The training of university students was always a high priority and over 100 students from the veterinary science and agriculture faculties gained practical experience at Nandillyan Ponds and benefited particularly from Isabel’s philosophy in the breeding and management of livestock, pasture improvement and animal nutrition. Nandillyan Ponds also hosted numerous student tours from various Universities, Agricultural Colleges and secondary schools.

Adair Stud: The Adair herd was Isabel’s professional life and reflected her attention to good temperament and structure, and particularly, the ease of calving. Her commitment to the principles of scientific breeding, her meticulous attention to accuracy and detailed records made the Adair herd a most valuable resource, not only for the supply of seedstock but as an ideal herd for research and demonstrations programs.

The move to Nandillyan Ponds in 1966 enabled the expansion of the Adair Stud.  The Stud had an enviable show and sale record in the early 1970’s and performed well in Sydney and Brisbane as well as major achievements on the local show circuit.  Bulls were sold to all states and to New Zealand where they made a significant contribution to the development of the various studs and the breed.

The depth of breeding and quality was combined with marketing innovations to stage the first on-farm Adair Production Sale in 1977.  These production sales are now commonplace within the Seedstock Industry.

The outbreak of significant disease in the late 1970’s saw the cessation of sales of seedstock from Adair. The focus then concentrated on disease control and management and intensive selection on production traits in the breeding program.

The detailed records and the integrity of the breeding program resulted in the Adair herd being recognized as a leading research resource for a range of genetic and veterinary programs.

Isabel’s veterinary abilities and philosophy, and her integrity, were demonstrated by her openness and commitment to benefit the whole of the beef industry when Pompes’ Disease and later Bovine Johnes’ Disease were identified by Isabel and diagnosed in the Adair herd. It was Isabel’s total commitment and involvement that were key factors in developing management programs to reduce the impact of  these important diseases on an industry wide basis. The access by researchers to the Adair herd and records led to the development of more specific and sensitive tests and more effective control programs for these diseases. 

The Adair herd was one of the initial cooperative herds for the CRC Beef project with involvement from the first CRC for Beef Cattle and Meat Quality in 1992.

The commitment of Isabel and Owen to the Shorthorn breed and the beef industry was further demonstrated by their generous support in offering the Adair herd and leasing the Nandillyan Ponds property to Durham Research & Development in 2000.  This has enabled the Shorthorn Society to become the first breed society to undertake progeny testing for a range of economic production traits, provide demonstration facilities for technology transfer, as well as other industry focused research investigations and demonstration.  This has been a hugely successful venture, attracting government and industry funding, ownership by the breeders of the research programs and interest from across the industry and overseas.

Isabel has been honoured with Life Membership at the Australian Veterinary Association and the Shorthorn Society of Australia. 

Isabel has made a significant contribution to veterinary science and the beef industry. Her partnership with husband Owen has been most productive in their personal achievements only because of the support and encouragement of each other. They have retired from the day to day operations of the property but still live in the spacious surrounds of Nandillyan Ponds.