Fifty year sale brings 100pc clearance for Swan Hill

Swan Hill and Eyriewald combine bull sale for the last time


Studstock
That's gold: Winton Elders representative, Talia Vieira, with Swan Hill's Alexa Russell and purchaser of the top priced bull, Anthony Tanks, Corella Cattle Co, Winton. Pictures: Sally Cripps.

That's gold: Winton Elders representative, Talia Vieira, with Swan Hill's Alexa Russell and purchaser of the top priced bull, Anthony Tanks, Corella Cattle Co, Winton. Pictures: Sally Cripps.

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Pioneering Santa Gertrudis stud, Swan Hill, held its first sale at Blackall in 1968 and celebrated 50 years on Monday.

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Sale summary: $4220 av, $8500 top price, 96pc clearance

In 1968 people were protesting the Vietnam War and Rain Lover was set to win the Melbourne Cup, but in western Queensland, pioneering Santa Gertrudis stud, Swan Hill, held its first sale at Blackall.

Some 20 bulls were sold that day, for less than $1000 each, but it was a foundation that the Russell family has cemented into what has become the western Queensland Santa Gertrudis sale circuit.

In that 50 year time frame they’ve notched up a world record price of $10,000 for a poll bull before it was a popular characteristic, had another poll bull judged a senior champion at Sydney’s Royal Show but been denied the grand championship because of his lack of horns, and sold semen as far afield as Zimbabwe and the Soviet Union.

Monday’s sale, incorporating Eyriewald at Winton, who was saying farewell to the seedstock scene, kicked off the two-day selling round with a $4220 average and a top price of $8500.

Craig Moller, Recruit, Clermont, talks over his purchase of five bulls with Eyriewald stud manager, Mark Bradshaw.

Craig Moller, Recruit, Clermont, talks over his purchase of five bulls with Eyriewald stud manager, Mark Bradshaw.

Anthony Tanks, Corella Cattle Co, Winton, one of Swan Hill’s long-term clients, was the purchaser of the sale’s top-priced bull, Swan Hill R5715, a 21-month-old poll weighing 818kg.

His daily liveweight gain of 1.26kg/day was the highest of the sale draft and his eye muscle area was 124sq cm.

As well as the poll factor, Mr Tanks said the proof of the Swan Hill breeding came when they sent their steers to Roma, where they consistently commanded prices at the top of the market.

“Weight for age they go pretty well. We’re only a little company so quicker turnover is good,” he said. “They’ve treated us well, and toughed it out through the droughts.”

Swan Hill cleared 100pc of its catalogue for an average of $4267.

Paul and Robyn Dyer were in a reflective mood, having taken the decision to disperse their stud and sell their last bulls on Monday.

There was solid demand for the 28 bulls they offered, culminating in a double top price of $5500, paid by Champion Livestock, Longway, Longreach, and by the Nugent Pastoral Company, Tambo Station.

Warwick and Rosemary Champion purchased Eyriewald 7001, 21 months and 682kg, having a scrotal circumference of 42cm and an EMA of 118sq cm.

Eyriewald 7000 went to the Nugent Pastoral Co, Tambo Station.

Almost a carbon copy of the other equal top price, he was also 21 months old, weighed 682kg, and had an EMA of 118sq cm.

Eyriewald sold 25 of their 28 head for an average of $4140.

Before the sale, Paul Dyer said drought had made it impossible for the stud founded by Ian Mitchell to continue.

At the conclusion, Robyn Dyer said they had done a lot better than they thought we would have, considering the conditions in the central west.

“Today proved that the bulk buyers are about,” she said.

Two main volume buyers were operating at the sale, the Argyle Cattle Co at Charleville, who bought 16 head, and the Speed family of Tarlton Downs, Tobermory, finishing with 17 head.

Buying for Tarlton Downs, Bob and Andrea Speed said while they breed their own bulls at Brigadoon at Taroom, sending 100 or so to Tobermory annually, they were finally at capacity and needed a few extra bulls.

“These (Swan Hill) bulls are as good as you’ll find anywhere,” Bob said. “They’re mobile cattle – we like them to walk and they’ll do the job.”

Monday’s sale was held on-property after a few years at the Blackall complex, in honour of the 50th anniversary, and Alexa Russell said it had been good to come home.

“The sale has built up over the years – we got up to about 150 bulls for quite a few years, but it’s cut back,” she said.

“We have less breeders and there’s less demand at the moment.

“We couldn’t ask for much more than the 100pc clearance though.”

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