With prices the best on record and drought-breaking rainfall making way for a glorious season across much of Queensland, there was probably no better time to be in the cattle industry than June 2022.
After more than 40 years in the piggery business, the Bishop family made the transition into cattle trading and breeding across their various properties in the South Burnett, jumping at the chance to make the most of the market.
The Bishops had over 20,000 animals throughout their piggeries and additionally ran a smaller herd of cattle, buying weaners at around 250kg, holding them for around 12 months, before selling them onto the feedlot market at 450kg.
Locksley Bishop said his family decided to move away from the piggeries when given the rare opportunity to sell their business 18 months ago and grow their cattle trading operation.
"We've always had the cattle on the side and it was my grandfather who went more in the pig direction," he said.
"I guess we were looking at diversifying a bit, just dipping our toes in and then once we sold the pig business we went full steam ahead with the cattle.
"Piggeries are very labour intensive, very full on, and we were struggling a bit to find staff.
"There was an opportunity to sell, and I think maybe once in your life someone might offer to buy a piggery.
"You hear of a lot of cattle farms selling and grain farms, but I'm sure you probably haven't heard of many piggeries selling.
"So we're definitely moving towards the cattle direction a lot more now, and really enjoying it."
After switching directions and fully committing to their cattle operation, the Bishops purchased another property at Booubyjan in March to run breeders, in addition to their irrigation and backgrounding country at their Tansey and Cloyna properties.
"So at Merlwood, it's all scrub country so it's a lot softer and much more productive, as in beast per acre, so its great country for backgrounding.
"At Tansey and Booubyjan, I would call it forest country so it's just a little bit less productive but perfect for your breeders."
After receiving around 600 to 700 millimetres of rain so far (June), Mr Bishop said it was great to be heading into winter with a full moisture profile and plenty of grass.
However, the Bishops are already preparing for dry conditions in the future and are currently growing and storing silage to ensure they will have sufficient feed in the case of another drought.
"We're just growing silage, as much as we can, and putting it away for a rainy day," Mr Bishop said.
"We were growing corn silage, but then obviously the fall armyworm has impacted a lot of corn production, so we've moved towards sorghum silage, which we're getting good results out of that.
"We've got 100% water allocation from Bjelke Peterson dam at the moment, and it's at 100 per cent so I'd say for the next three years, we'll have enough water regardless of rain, but we're just going to keep banking that silage up in anticipation of the next drought."
The Bishops plan to continue building their trading operation, but also want to want to work on furthering their breeder herd and taking full advantage of the current market.
"We are looking at building a bit of a nucleus herd, and getting AI in and just breeding some of our own bulls," Mr Bishop said.
"At the moment, most definitely the breeders are making the big bucks and it's good to see money being injected back into all of those businesses.
"Then we'll just follow the market and decide when is the right time to take a stake and buy some more cattle, but it's definitely a good time to be getting into the industry."
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