Holding sway for a final time

Reflecting on 27 years of Big Country success

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The 2021 Big Country Brahman Sale will see livestock agents Ken McCaffrey and Jim Geaney pass the gavel to the Queensland Rural team after a successful 27 year involvement with the sale.

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BOWING OUT: The 2021 Big Country sale will be the last for founders Ken McCaffrey and his mate Jim Geaney.

BOWING OUT: The 2021 Big Country sale will be the last for founders Ken McCaffrey and his mate Jim Geaney.

IN a few days Ken McCaffrey won't know whether to celebrate or reflect.

It's probably going to be the same for Jim Geaney.

These two gents, you see, have been the prime movers behind the Big Country Sale in Charters Towers for the past 27 years.

But the 2021 version on February 8 and 9 at the Dalrymple Saleyards will be an end for them.

As Mr McCaffrey, McCaffrey's Australian Livestock marketing, Rockhampton, puts it, he and his mate from Charters Towers are reaching the twilight of respective careers and passing the gavel to younger hands is "right and proper".

"The Big Country Sale started in 1994 and Jim and myself have been involved right from the start and we've invested plenty of ourselves into its operation," Mr McCaffrey offered.

"But we've made the decision to hand it over to new agents because it is the better process for the sale and the vendors.

"Jim and I are getting toward the latter end of our careers and we think it's best placed with younger agents who have the same respect for the sale as we do and who will commit to it and ensure it goes on in the same vain."

When Big Country launched it was as a herd bull sale, often settled in a few hours. With a rise in popularity it expanded to be a "very full" one-day sale.

Then it grew some more.

"We developed the stud side of it and moved from a one day sale to two-day format where we split the reds and greys," Mr McCaffrey said.

"Early on we were recording $100,000+ sales for bulls well before it became commonplace and on one occasion the Nobbs Cattle Co took some red bulls of South African parentage up there and we got $145,000, $105,000 and $100,000 for three bulls which was quite a big story.

"But the sale does not live on the top-priced bulls. The standard right throughout is good and it's the biggest agent-run multi-vendor sale in northern Australia.

'We inspect each entry well before the catalogue is prepared and if the bulls aren't up to a standard they're excluded.

"It meant tough negotiations but the producers caught on and buyers supported us which gave credence to what we were doing.

"We weren't judging the vendors, we were only assessing their stock and I'd like to think we helped the industry improve.

"I'll miss the wonderful people I've met but I won't miss giving up my every November and December. We normally have 50 studs represented in the sale and I visit them from Georgetown in the north to Gympie in the south. That's how we maintain the quality - getting out and looking at the cattle."

That's worth reflecting...

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