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Stud breeders unite to better serve northern producers

Barlyne Yandicoogina sold to Warrambie Station for $7250 at the Fitzroy Crossing Bull Sale.
Barlyne Yandicoogina sold to Warrambie Station for $7250 at the Fitzroy Crossing Bull Sale. Georgie Connor Photography

WHILE there is much divide within the stud industry among different breeds and vendors, a few stud breeders in Queensland have decided to band together.

For them, it makes sense to be united as they all share the same goal - to breed bulls perfectly suited for the northern Australian market.

Jim Edwards and Len Gibbs are the founders of the Queenslander Cattle Breed Society, a group that sell bulls to producers in the Kimberley.

Combined, the two graziers have more than 80 years of experience in the cattle industry and this week the good friends caught up with the Rural Weekly to talk through how the stud society came to be.

Although both currently based in Queensland on separate properties, Jim running Barlyne Pastoral at Gayndah and Len with Muar Brahman Stud at Biggenden, the pair have strong ties to the north.

Jim grew up working on stations in WA, and for about 30 years made a living as a contract fixed-wing mustering pilot.

He later owned and ran two stations in the Pilbara before moving east to settle at Gayndah.

And Len, whose cattle property has been in family hands for 116 years, has been selling bulls to northern markets for decades.

"I had a yarn with Len, and we realised we were both going in the same direction with our cattle, so we thought we would should do something about it,” Jim said.

"We have found northern producers like red cattle, that are polled with pink noses.”

A clean coat, short hair, thickness of muscle and a quiet temperament is also a necessity.

"So after a few years we took cattle through to the Fitzroy sale,” he said.

Fitzroy Crossing's first sale, held in 2006, was organised to celebrate the Pastoral and Grazing Association of Western Australia's 100th year.

"A fellow called Harold Sealy, from FarmWorks, called to see if we could supply some bulls on short notice,” he said.

"It was a fairly intense time, but we got them all together and the sale went off reasonably well.”

The Queenslander Cattle Breed Society has carried on with the annual sale and helped grow the number of bulls sold from 130 head in its first year, to now preparing an estimated 260 for auction this year.

Bos indicus bloodlines are still the most popular for northern producers.

"There are usually about 13 different vendors that go to Fitzroy, mainly there are red brahmans, grey brahmans, droughtmasters ... there are also some charbrays and brangus there as well,” he said.

"Really, the sale was to give everyone who wanted different types of cattle the chance at getting those cattle.

"Droughtmasters are still the most popular because they are tried and true.”

While members of the Queenslander Cattle Breed Society know their market well, getting to the market, which is about 4000km away, can be a logistical hurdle.

All up, the trip takes about a week and involves "all the paper work under the sun”, Jim joked.

"It has always been a challenge. But we are getting pretty expert at it now,” he said.

"We are already preparing for 12 decks of bulls to go over in August for this year.”

The cattle are first trucked to Mitchell, where they are swapped over onto road trains, then head to Cloncurry, where they get a good 24 hours of rest.

"Then they go onto Katherine, where they have another 48-hour rest, then the go through to the border, have all their border treatments there, then go through to Fitzroy.

"By this stage we are heavily involved with them, we normally camp with them along the way.”

Jim said the cattle handle the trip remarkably well.

"Most cattle these days are used to being on and off trucks,” he said.

So far Jim and Len are pleased to see how the Queenslander Cattle Breed Society is tracking.

Two years ago the society became incorporated.

"For me and Len, we will only see the start of it if this does take off. It will be years in the making - it will be a generational type thing,” he said.

Jim's two adult children are both involved with the cattle industry, as well as Len's son and four grandkids. Search "Queenslander Cattle Breed Society” on Facebook for more information.

Topics:  cattle droughtmaster


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