‘Why we moved from trading to breeders’

Roma's Bourke family switch from trading to breeders


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BREEDING ON: Andrew, Jessica and Toni Bourke of Bracco, Roma with some of their cattle.

BREEDING ON: Andrew, Jessica and Toni Bourke of Bracco, Roma with some of their cattle.

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When the Bourkes moved from the Marlborough region to the Maranoa it wasn't just a change of scenery.

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WHEN the Bourke family moved from the Marlborough region to the Maranoa, they not only had a change in land type but in their business too. 

Andrew and Toni Bourke, along with daughters Jessica, 18, Ella, 15, and Mia, 9, own and operate the 2023 hectare (5000 acre) property Bracco at Roma and 809 hectares (2000 acres), with leucaena, at Moutainview in Wandoan. 

During their time in central Queensland the family ran a commercial breeding herd and fattened their own steers.

But, upon purchasing the “high quality, low cost” Bracco two years ago, they opted to background up to 1000 head of EU steers.

“We have had it for two years but when we bought, it was pretty dry,” Ms Bourke said.

The family have made plenty of changes since moving to the area.

The family have made plenty of changes since moving to the area.

“So we had to not put anything on it for a little while and then we actually got really good rain when all that rain was around, so that really paid off.”

However, the challenges with sourcing the right steers for their EU status and market opportunities saw them begin rebuilding a breeder herd of Angus cattle, buying females from local stud and commercial producers.

Now have 400 females, the majority of them naturally or artificially inseminated with Wagyu genetics, the family are still wary of the high volume of producers turning towards the ‘black cattle trend’ and the risks associated.

But, they hope having both breeds will make challenges easily adaptable. 

“We are probably going to do the F1 cross at this stage but then how far you go is probably still a little bit of a gamble,” Mr Bourke said. 

Their eldest child, Jessica, has recently graduated from school and assisting with the running of the property.

Their eldest child, Jessica, has recently graduated from school and assisting with the running of the property.

“The whole industry had a bit of a backward step on that F1, at the moment I think everyone is going a bit quite. 

“They are still talking, if you are going to be in it, it’s got to be Angus cross.

“I think that full-blood side of it is a bit of a flavour at the moment.” 

As to whether their leucaena will be utilised prior to a feedlot or meatworks job is yet to be decided. 

Having also had experience owning a butcher shop, Mr Bourke is confident of end game returns for their latest business venture.

“We are obviously not going into a stud, but going into Wagyus trying to get that bit more out of them,” he said.

“Whether it is Angus or Wagyu, I think it’s got a fair premium for it.

“McDonald’s have survived on it (Angus branding).

“In that marketing side of it, it’s funny, because (McDonald’s) have obviously jumped on and made Angus, Angus, and they are trying to get Wagyu into the system as well without doing it wrong.”

He was surprised the same breed focused marketing approaches hadn’t been seen more in the supermarket space.

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