Northern buyers appreciating KurraWirra genetics
CULLA-based stud Kurra-Wirra Red Angus and Senepols sell the majority of its bulls to northern buyers, who appreciate the breeds’ fertility and heat tolerance.
The fully-fledged family operation, run by Robert and Bernadette Close, sons Anthony, Simon and Michael and daughter Anna-Grace, aims to sell about 200 bulls a year.
Robert Close said they had the opportunity to secure some world class females of pure Red Angus and Senepol composite genetics about 12 years ago.
“A lot of our genetics came from those original 200 cows, which were very high quality females,” Mr Close said.
“We then spread them further by keeping the best bull calves and working them through the system every year, and using the best Red Angus and Senepol bulls we could find.”
He said one issue they have had to work with has been that Red Angus cattle have a lot of hair on them.
“Our northern clients desire a smooth, hairless coat, so they are able to export them to Indonesia, where they can’t go with hair on their heads,” he said.
“The majority of our base cows had hair on them, and they just wouldn’t cut it nowadays, so we’re trying to breed cattle with a slicker coat, and evolve with the market.”
Their fertility is a characteristic that the stud’s northern buyers appreciate.
“They’re highly fertile bulls, and when you put them over the Brahmans, you’ve got the hybrid vigour, and they’ll get in-calf quicker, and will have more weight in the carcase too,” he said.
One thing the stud has focused on is temperament.
“We sell a lot of cattle to corporate people, and they’re going to start demanding docility figures, because OH&S is such an important part of farming nowadays,” he said.
“We’re trying to be ahead of the game, we know that our cattle are quiet, but we want to be able to have the figures to prove that they’re quiet.”
Given the majority of the stud’s clients are interstate, it doesn’t conduct an on-property sale, and instead sells about 40 at a multi-vendor sale in central Queensland, and the majority privately.
Anthony Close said being able to exchange information and photos about bulls online, and via email, has been of significant benefit.
“We send a lot of photos and videos of bulls to clients, and sometimes you’ll send a photo of a bull, and have him shipped by the next Monday,” Mr Close said.
“People are quite prepared to take them by just seeing photos and videos, so we sell a lot through technology.”
But he said there’s nothing quite like visual assessment, which is why Stock & Land Beef Week is a good opportunity to display their cattle.
“It’s a cheap way to promote your cattle and get people on your farm, and talking to them on a personal level,” he said.
“You can have all the photos and websites in the world, but when people are actually there looking at your cattle, they’re really able to understand how you operate and what the cattle are like.”
He said a lot of potential northern buyers rely on observing the cattle purchased from the stud by other northern buyers.
“A lot of the time, a buyer has seen our cattle from another buyer, and liked the look of them, so buys based on our reputation,” he said.
Also running a Merino sheep stud, Robert Close said it’s only been possible to run them both because of the help from his family.
“The sheep stud’s been going on for 50 years, and when I came home from school about 45 years ago, I introduced the cattle,” Mr Close said.
“We originally ran a Hereford stud, but it became too difficult to run them both, and our Merino enterprise was going really well, so we stopped running Herefords.
“I drifted into the commercial side a bit, contracting feeder steers, and then the boys came back home, and we were able to run the two studs again, but this time in a different breed.”