Lisgar Station, situated between Bowen and the Burdekin, was purchased by the Rea family in 1961.
Since that time Lisgar has been successfully owned and managed by, originally, Edward and Dorothy Rea, and now by Robert and Donna Rea and their son Robert Jnr who started working full-time on the property in 2013.
The property runs from the Bruce Highway through to the Pacific Ocean with 10 kilometres of beach frontage. The country on Lisgar’s 11,000ha has a variety of coastal soil types from coastal marine plains to self-mulching black soils and softer loam flats supporting improved pasture including buffel, urochloa, verano and seca stylos, sirato, large areas of ponded pasture and native couches.
Robert Jnr said Lisgar is the site of the once well-known Bobawaba Races which have drifted into folklore.
“The races are now remembered in song that recognises the importance of our rural inheritance,” he said.
The family are currently running 2400 head of Droughtmaster cattle at Lisgar.
Robert Jnr said Droughtmasters have been a part of their core operation since his great grandfather Bob Rea was one of the two original cattlemen who pioneered the breed, producing the first of the breed type in 1946, and giving it the name Droughtmaster.
“His fundamental process continued with more improvements being gained using objective measurement, feed conversion ratios, targeting fertility, quicker calving intervals and shorter turn-off times (predating Breedplan) all while producing better performing cattle.
“This acumen and ability was recognised by Bob being issued with the very first Herd Book Certificate No 1 for the then “new” breed in 1957.”
Robert Jnr said at present, Lisgar is a breeding and fattening operation using high quality Breedplan recorded Droughtmaster cattle.
“All progeny are being fully performance recorded including parent verification by the 35K SNP technology irrespective of end market, ensuring traceable inheritance for full evaluation.
“The performance recorded bulls are predominantly paddock sales, which are mainly sold by database search or word of mouth which confirms the high value of objective measurement used in our herds.”
Robert Jnr runs his own Droughtmaster herd at Lisgar in conjunction with his parents.
“Together we produce Jap Ox bullocks aged 30 months to 36 months which average close to 340kg dressed weight, Jap heifers, which average close to 280kg dressed weight.
“To offset the dry season high quality molasses based supplementation is used to maintain peak efficiency of all herds.”
Robert Jnr said examples of the herd’s proven performance can be seen in recent beef and carcase competitions in which Lisgar has had a long history of success.
“Lisgar cattle competed in the Northern Beef Producers Day at Charters Towers in mid-2018 gaining first place in the Pen of Five Bullocks (averaged 714kg at twotooth), first in the Single Bullock class, first in the Pen of Five trade steers in addition to numerous other placings.
“We’ve also been successful exhibitors at the Mackay Carcase Competition and the Central Queensland Carcase Classic competition in Rockhampton.”
Robert Jnr recently travelled to the USA and particularly Texas where he was able to closely observe US production systems and compare them with those at Lisgar.
“This trip in addition to knowledge gained from past and current beef production experiments (Lisgar has a history of scientific co-operation reflecting the generations of the Rea families affinity with progressive management) have all served to enhance my skills and enthusiasm for breeding Droughtmasters, the cattle engineered for our country.
“I take pleasure in hearing and reading the feedback we receive from our repeat bull buyers who, using our bulls, state that they’re gaining increases in liveweight, improved fertility and docility, and are generally achieving better fiscal returns.”
Robert Jnr said in the future he’s looking forward to growing his own business as an adjunct to Lisgar and to be able to continue the family heritage of Droughtmaster production on the property.
“I’m also proud that I am operating as R.Rea and Co, with my own cattle enterprise, in the same way as my great grandfather whose trading name it originally was.
“It also helps that on my rare days off, our proximity to the coast satisfies my keen hobby of fishing and crabbing.”