Bullocks no bollocks as Asia demands big beef
The trade in full-mouth store bullocks remains strong on the coast where timbered country is plentiful and Clarence breeders say the choice to target export markets makes sense.
Global demand for MSA graded eight tooth steers – particularly from Asia – is alive and well, despite the gloomy forecast of a beef glut as the new year evolves.
Of course store bullock producers like Maree Conroy and Tom Lloyd, “Doboy Station” on the old Ramornie run near Grafton, don’t fret too much about world affairs, and prefer to concentrate on breeding progeny that do well on their country.
Right at the moment the place looks marvelous, with verdant green kikuyu and paspalum on the better scrub soils, but last winter when the district was dry, only a hardy breed could survive.
On Doboy station cattle that stand when the season turns tough are Hereford/ Brahman females that go back to Devon before an infusion of white Brahman.
“We have a lot of marginal country,” says Mr Lloyd. “This cross bats-on when it gets dry.”
Eight years ago, when Ms Conroy and Mr Lloyd moved away from an experiment with Santa Gertrudis they chose Hereford bulls from George Hardcastle, “McPherson Range” Old Koreela. These days they invest in bulls from the Kneipp family, “Batallion” and “Echo Park”, at Dundee via Glen Innes.
Black Baldy calves trace their lineage to Angus from Coffs Harbour producer Darren Marshall, whose bulls go back to Booroomooka, while Brahman bulls come from Warren Newcomb, “Lorima” Couttes Crossing.
Maree retains a core Devon herd at the station’s breeding property near Baryulgil, with bloodlines going back to Maree’s grandfather Martin Conroy of Chambigne. The re-infusion of stoic British using her own bulls is a good thing.
Criss-cross females, exhibiting the classic brindle pattern, are strong and resilient. One house cow aged 17 hasn’t missed a calf in all her time – throwing all steers bar one heifer.
“If we sold our steers as weaners we wouldn’t get good prices for them,” explains Mr Lloyd. “And after two years old they pretty much look after themselves; all the hard work’s done.”
Lowlands fatteners like Paul Carlton, and his son Mark, from Ulmarra, and the likes of Brian Killmore and his father Charlie, Kinchela via Kempsey, tend to bid against each other for four and six tooth Doboy bullocks and when they turn them over after 12 months to Wingham Beef Exports or JBS Swift at Dinmore, they hit the grid at a carcase weight of around 380-400kg.
“I’m the third generation to do this trade,” explains Mr Killmore. “I suppose you get stuck in your ways but the seasons for us have been good lately. It’s a numbers game – kilos in and kilos out. To change our ways and chase the feeder market, well that’s a whole new ball game.”
Bellingen bullock fattener Gus Raymond says the prices being paid for young store cattle don’t leave much room for profit at the other end, whereas full mouthed bullocks will continue to grow and fatten on his steeper country.
Wingham livestock manager Stephen Moy said demand particularly from Asia for older beef for use in traditional dishes remained strong.
“Our job is to continue to deliver quality product with good shelf with the clean image that Australia already has,” he said.