JUNEE, Dingo has finished their second muster for the year and are revelling in the spoils of a solid season with a good body of dry feed on the property.
Junee, 25,270 hectares, and Melmoth, 2168ha, are owned and run by the Luck family with parents Richard and Gaye and children Matthew and Nerida operating as a company.
The family also includes Matt’s wife Joanne and their children who are sixth generation, Patrick, 19, Jorja, 17, and Miranda, 15.
Gaye summed up the business succinctly and said like all years it is the market that dictates their movements.
“We raise beef, almost all export, and sell majority of our bullocks and cull cows to JBS,” she said.
“We cart our own cattle, turn-off prime cattle and this year we’re selling heifers like everyone else.”
Speaking to the Luck family on the back deck of the main homestead, they stressed the fact that everyone has a role to play and an area to keep running.
Richard arranges the buying, marketing and general overseeing. Matthew is responsible for the machinery, Nerida handles the cattle figures, the LPA, QA plus horse and cattle stud registrations as well as horse management.
Gaye and Joanne are in charge of the bookkeeping and finances.
At mustering time all are involved assisted by their full-time employee Andrew Smith who oversees Melmoth, a property situated on the Fitzroy Development Road north of Dingo.
Junee has improved pastures on Brigalow country and about a third of the area is Tablelands where they run the younger female cattle.
These heifers have access to protein and mineral supplement that the family mixes on-site.
The herd is predominantly grey Brahmans but 30 per cent of the breeders are Droughtmasters with the core Droughtmaster herd at Melmoth.
“Junee Pastoral Co had Herefords until the late 1950s when a bull of Wallace McKenzie’s got in with our cows and even Grandad Ted could see how suitable this progeny was for our climate,” Gaye said.
There’s a strong focus on fertility at Junee, Dingo and a one-strike policy for females is the key to keeping the breeding lines strong, according to property owner Richard Luck.
All bulls are joined to the females in the last week of October or first week of November if it’s dry.
First muster is a branding round in December or January.
The second muster in March where the weaners are taken off, the second calf branding, bulls taken out of the breeder paddocks.
Final round of mustering in June for the remaining weaners and preg testin, and any cow without a calf are immediately culled.
After preg testing this year, Richard was pleased to report the PTIC percentage was in the high 80 to early 90 per cent, slightly up on the usual of 86 per cent.
Richard puts this result down to their heifer policy where young females are not joined until they are two-years-old.
“We do not join at 12 months to let them put on a bit of weight and so if we get adverse conditions they can keep up,” he said.
Similarly with the steers, the operation runs a tight ship and doesn’t grow out bullocks over 400kg because it takes more time and grass.
The aim of the operation is to turn-off optimum valued kilograms of beef from grass.
“The focus is on breeding and fattening steers, 60-70 percent of our turnoff is milk to two-tooth in the 310-320kg dressed range,” Richard said.
“We do not breed enough steers for our available bullock country so we buy in about 500 to 600 head each year.”
Currently the herd is LPA/QA accredited and the family said while they have looked into extending that to a PCAS accreditation, they found the advantage of being able to utilise HGPs for a faster turn-off rate outweighed the PCAS advantages.
Up until February, Junee has recorded 270mm of rain but Richard said as quickly as the rainfall began, it stopped!
“Then the tap turned off,” he said.
“Fortunately, we have a good stand of dry feed and water supply is fair after Cyclone Debbie.”
“We had a good growth period last year,” Nerida added. The family said like most, they are hoping for an early break in the season. It’s a stark contrast to previous years when Junee flooded in 2010/11 and 2016.