Quality at heart of Mitchell operation

Hartley Grazing largest volume buyer at Brahman Week

Beef
Hartley Grazing replacement heifers at Coopermurra, Mitchell.

Hartley Grazing replacement heifers at Coopermurra, Mitchell.

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The Rockhampton Brahman Week Sale remains the go-to for operations whether it be to splash cash on one bull or a draft of bulls.

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Showcasing the best bulls from 175 studs, the Rockhampton Brahman Week Sale remains the go-to for operations whether it be to splash cash on one bull or a draft of bulls.

This year the regular volume buyers from Western Australia and the Northern Territory were missing, allowing Queensland graziers to stock up on new sires.

For Tom and Sandra Hartley, Hartley Grazing, Coopermurra, Mitchell, the market and lack of competition meant they could take home more bulls than they had planned on.

"We planned on buying 20 but I thought the bulls were about $2000 to $3000 below the rate I thought they would have been," Mr Hartley said.

"They won't be any cheaper next year, so I thought we might as well get in and buy a few extra this year while things are good and things are happening.

"And it means the younger bulls I've got at home, I can leave them and not put them out for another six months."

Tom Hartley, Andrew Hartley and Kelvin Vidler looking over the bulls purchased at the Rockhampton Brahman Week Sale in 2020.

Tom Hartley, Andrew Hartley and Kelvin Vidler looking over the bulls purchased at the Rockhampton Brahman Week Sale in 2020.

At the end of the three-day sale, Hartley Grazing was the largest volume buyer, purchasing 30 bulls for an average of $7983 and a top of $13,000.

Mr Hartley said they were looking mainly for structure and length.

"Fertility was another [trait] and of the ones that had figures, days to calving is something we're starting to look at a bit more," he said.

"We tried to buy value bulls; we still have to buy to a budget because they go onto forest country and I can't justify a $30,000 bull in forest country, but at the same time I can't justify buying the cheap ones either."

A breeding and fattening operation, Hartley Grazing incorporates approximately 12,000 head of cattle on 117,000 hectares across four properties.

Brahmans have formed the backbone of the operation for several decades, but in recent years they have crossed their females with British and European lines.

"Our cows now are starting to go back more to the Charbray and Brangus, so we need to probably up the Brahman content a bit for the sake of our replacement females," Mr Hartley said.

"We sell into a predominantly feedlot market; all our steers and probably 60 per cent of our spayed heifers go as heavy feeders so we need to keep that bit of British and Euro in our cattle.

"But at the same time, we're not getting the numbers of good quality Brahman heifers to keep as replacements, so this big influx of Brahman bulls is one way of trying to swing the pendulum back a bit the other way."

Vandibeek Pastoral Co, Naroounyah, Alpha, purchased 18 bulls for an average of $8638, while John, Vikki and Sophie Hartley, Kinka, Injune, put together a draft of 17 for an average of $6617.

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