Santa Gertrudis cattle have been at the core of Peter and Sue Joliffe's commercial breeding operations since the early 1980's.
The Joliffes run their business on Walhallow, north of Amby, on undulating country of varying soil and timber types. Peter purchased Walhallow in 1971 from his grandfather Mort Hamilton, who selected it in 1937.
It was about 40 years ago that the Joliffes bought their first Santa Gertrudis mickey bulls and heifers to trial as a cross option with their then mainly Hereford herd.
"From then on we kept breeding across to Santas. Their ability to walk in our country makes them a better option than British-bred cattle," Mr Joliffe said.
"We occasionally buy a Droughtmaster bull to put with our heifers for ease of calving, and to add a bit Bos Indicus content for this country, but we produce a mainly pure Santa herd."
In their program all breeding activities are carried out on Walhallow, from which weaner steers are kept on a couple of paddocks until they reach 18 to 20 months old and are then sold on as steers in April or May.
"Our cull heifers stay at Walhallow and are grown to feedlot weight and sold as rising two year olds. Our older dry cows are sold after we put a bit of meat on them."
Mr Joliffe said their returns have risen since last year.
"Because of the ongoing drought, we sold a lot of cattle at the second last Roma Store Sale of 2019 and we were flatout getting 200c/kg for our cows. When it started raining mid January, our cows brought 20c to 30c more. We sold steers in March for 400c/kg weighing 398kg, and in May we sold steers for 368c/kg and in July for 392c/kg, which were approximately the same weight.
"I've been in the business for a long time and I've never seen money like this."
To bolster the genetics running through their herd, the Joliffes have been purchasing Santa Gertrudis bulls from the Heartland Sale for more than 30 years.
"It's a good value for money sale. We've purchased some good placid bulls from the sale over the years which have aided our production.
"We look for bulls that are quiet, tidy underneath, fertile, dark coloured, deep and long-bodied."
He said they were desperate for rain into mid-January this year as they couldn't get feed and the cattle were losing condition.
"We kept our core breeders, but we had to cut back our numbers. It'll take a while for us to recover. Luckily the rain came when it did, and it has been unreal. We only received 203mm for 2019, which is well below our annual average, but we've already had 603mm since February for 2020. It took a while for the country to respond, but the Buffel grass has come back well in our lighter country.