Droughties have proven essential on Springfield

Droughtmasters live up to their name for the Douglas family on Springfield

Beef
On property: Andrew Douglas with a selection of the Droughtmaster herd on Springfield, situated between Mitchell and St George, which has been owned by the Douglas family since 1912.

On property: Andrew Douglas with a selection of the Droughtmaster herd on Springfield, situated between Mitchell and St George, which has been owned by the Douglas family since 1912.

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The hardiness and reliability of the Droughtmaster have been key drivers in helping the Douglas family weather the unflinching dry impacting their property, Springfield, between Mitchell and St George.

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The hardiness and reliability of the Droughtmaster breed have been key drivers in helping the Douglas family weather the unflinching dry impacting their property, Springfield, situated between Mitchell and St George.

Andrew Douglas said last year a mere 168mm of rain descended on Springfield, the lowest annual rainfall total recorded for the property on which the Douglas family have lived since 1912.

Mr Douglas, took over management of Springfield in 2008, where he lives with his wife Madonna, and he represents the fourth generation of the family on the 6700 hectare property which lies on Maranoa River frontage, and creek flood plains, backing onto sand hills covered in pine and Red Mulga country on the eastern side.

He said while the river is now running, the recent rainfall has been patchy on Springfield.

"We've received 45.6mm in February and 78mm for the year, but in our northern country that total is down around 40mm. There is more rain forecast for this week, but we aren't out of the woods yet," Mr Douglas said.

Due to the dry, the family have reduced their cow herd to 300 head from the 600 head they usually run in their Droughtmaster-focussed commercial operation.

"We sold half our weaners and cows, especially our older cows, mainly through the Roma Saleyards."

"The prices have been hanging on. We received $2.68/kg for our steers which isn't bad considering the conditions.

"Getting weight in them is obviously a problem at present as those steers averaged 264kg when we would usually try and get them to 300kg. However, we haven't been able to reach that target for eight years."

Down the track, Mr Douglas said theyll be looking at entering their cattle in some of the feedlot trials, to benchmark the article theyre producing.

Down the track, Mr Douglas said theyll be looking at entering their cattle in some of the feedlot trials, to benchmark the article theyre producing.

It was soon after taking over management of the property in 2008 that Andrew and Madonna purchased a nucleus Simmental x Droughtmaster herd from St George with the aim of creating a pure Drougtmaster herd, a goal, which save for the odd Simmental calf that still drops, has been achieved.

"I used to own a couple of livestock trucks in Roma, and as I used to do a lot of bull carting, I got a good idea of what was what with each breed.

"The temperament of the Droughtmaster is a huge reason why we went with the breed, and also because we can target heaps of markets with them.

"Besides selling through the Roma Saleyards, we've also sent some heifers to the Brindley Park feedlot in Roma, and to the Elders' Dalby Feeder and Store Challenge where we went well and even won a few prizes."

Mr Douglas said eight bulls are currently being used in the breeding program on Springfield.

"We usually join from the first week of November until weaning in April/May, but this year we only joined half of our breeders with the bulls in the first week of January, for which we should have calves by September/October.

"We're holding back our other cows and our calves and have them on cottonseed, with the hope that we'll receive more rain soon."

The temperament and marketing options provided by the Droughtmaster are two big reasons why Andrew and Madonna Douglas decided to go with the breed when they took over management of Springfield in 2008.

The temperament and marketing options provided by the Droughtmaster are two big reasons why Andrew and Madonna Douglas decided to go with the breed when they took over management of Springfield in 2008.

A fertility rate of 95 per cent is usually achieved in the program, but the dry led to that number dropping to 66pc at their last weaning period.

"Most of the cows have been on pellets for close to four months so we're interested to see what happens when we preg test them."

He said they've always had trouble with first-calf heifers, so this year because of the drought they've been feeding weaners the pellet ration.

"We're likely going to feed our weaner heifers from weaning to first joining, then when the calf is born we'll put the heifer back on the ration again.

"They normally have a year off as we're joining at 15 to 16 months, but we're hoping that by giving them extra supplement we'll be able to get them back in-calf in their second year."

Off-property Mr Douglas said they like to exhibit their cattle at the Mitchell Show, where they've placed over the years with their replacement heifers.

"Down the track we'll look at entering cattle in some of the feedlot trials to benchmark our article."

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