JUST when we thought we’d seen everything in this spring’s bull sales calendar, along came the Millah Murrah Angus sale at Bathurst, NSW last Thursday with a $16,349 average for 109 bulls.
That’s the highest average ever for a bull sale in the nation.
The figure sets a new benchmark for the industry, eclipsing the previous record of $15,470 for 33 bulls, set by PBF Brahmans in 2005 and Millah Murrah’s $14,876 average for their 105 bulls sold in 2015.
While statistics are not easy to find, it would seem the previous best average for a bull sale with 100 or more entries was in 2006 when 120 Charolais bulls averaged $11,400 at Palgrove.
Millah Murrah’s modest stud principal, Ross Thompson, said he was stunned by the level of confidence shown by buyers.
“We are witnessing a new economy in the cattle business at present,” he said.
“The fantastic increase in returns for the commercial cattleman is spilling over into the seedstock sector now. Bull sale averages are up across the board this season, but never in my wildest dreams did I think we could upstage the 2015 result,” he said.
“Commercial cattlemen are cashed up, and they are looking for quality. At all the sales I have attended this season, every time a bull steps into the ring with that little bit of extra quality, the bidding really heats up,” Mr Thompson said.
How to average $16,349 for 109 bulls
Millah Murrah is no overnight success. Founded in 1969 by Wyatt and Winsome Thompson, their first on property sale was in 1988. In 2003 as part of a succession plan, all registered females over 12 months were sold with son Ross and wife Dimity retaining 75 heifers to continue the Millah Murrah business. Today Millah Murrah is a fully registered herd running 400 breeders and recipients.
When Genetics Central asked Ross Thompson what was needed to sell 109 bulls at an average of $16,349 there was a long pause.
Eventually weight for age, fleshing and doing ability were proffered. Pressed further Ross described his cattle as ‘three dimensional’ with length, depth and width.
“The buyers keep coming back. We have clients who paid $2500 for our bulls 15 years ago, today they are prepared to pay $20,000,” he said.
What about Breedplan figures? Millah Murrah uses Breedplan as a guide but does not chase the top 1pc level. They are an aid to selection.
“In the past six years we have not used a bull I have not seen,” Mr Thompson said. He is off to the US later this month searching for genetics to continue the journey of herd advancement.
$85,000 top priced bull has style and figures
Topping the sale at $85,000, and the highest selling Angus bull for 2016 so far was Millah Murrah Loch Up L133. Aged 17 months, Loch Up tipped the scales at 788kg with a 44cm scrotal measurement. He is by US sire, Thomas Up River, from a Te Mania Emperor female, Brenda H49.
And he had the Breedplan figures to match, floating in the top 1pc level for 200, 400 and 600 day weight EBVs as well as in three index figures. No wonder he was jumped on by veteran semen jockey Bill Cornell of ABS Australia along with regular Millah Murrah client Ascot Angus, from Warwick Qld.
Speaking after the sale, Mr Cornell said Loch Up was just what ABS had been looking for over the past 12 months.
“He covers all bases, displaying outstanding phenotype, with terrific fleshing and structure. He’s got an attractive pedigree for many of the mainstream modern Angus bloodlines, comes with a high quality maternal background and has a brilliant balanced EBV set. This bull has widespread appeal commercially and for the seed stock sector. He’s a pretty rare combination that represents a broad spectrum joining option for the industry.”
The next highest selling bull of the sale – and for the Angus breed in 2016 – was another Thomas Up River son, Millah Murrah Lakeside L69. His dam is high-end donor cow, Millah Murrah Prue H113, sired by Lawsons Henry VIII, a bull behind several high profile Angus AI sires.
Lakeside was purchased by long-term Millah Murrah supporters Alexander Downs, Merriwa, owned by Robert and Stephen Gill and families. The Gills operate a fully integrated meat supply chain, processing upwards of 15,000 beef bodies annually, for distribution under the Alexander Downs brand.
“I like L69’s presence, his softness and his doing ability,” Robert Gill said. “He is a high quality, all-purpose Angus bull.”
Mr Gill said the Millah Murrah cattle continued to impress him.
“Millah Murrah has never chased fads,” he said. “They have stuck to their guns and what you see is what you get.”
Heading up the volume purchasers was another long term Millah Murrah client, JS Grazing, from Injune, Qld.
Having set new saleyards records at Roma in July, with their Millah Murrah blood weaners, Jeff and Jeremy Shaw selected five bulls for their 1500 breeder operation. The Shaws’ added to their reputation as one of the nation’s leading commercial Angus herds. They paid to a top of $22,000, averaging $20,800 for their bull draft, several times outbidding stud breeders to secure the bulls they were after.
Speaking after the sale, Jeremy Shaw said he knew the cattle would be in hot demand, but he was prepared to go all the way to get what he was after.
Also securing five bulls were return clients, Stephen and Robyn White from Roma, while long-term Millah Murrah bull buyers, Cavan Station, Yass, represented by Matt Crozier, bid to $22,000 to secure their four bulls.
Returning to purchase four bulls were the Crossing family from Angullong near Orange and Barrington Park Pastoral, Spring Ridge, who were buying at Millah Murrah for the first time.
Bulls sold to all main land states with 75pc going to return clients and 28 bulls going to first time Millah Murrah buyers.
An analysis of the sire averages revealed 28 sons of US sire EF Complement sold to $28,000 to average $16,571; 20 sons of NZ sire Matauri Reality topped at $20,000 three times to average $15,200; while 10 sons of Ascot Hallmark topped at $22,000 to average $19,000.
Six sons of perennial Millah Murrah favourite, Hingaia 469, sold to $20,000 to average $17,000, while sons of US sire Thomas Up River sold to $85,000, to average $39,000 on a small sample of five bulls.
In the sale break down 30 two-year-old bulls sold to a top of $22,000 to average $15,600; 57 18-month-old bulls topped at $85,000 to average $17,947; and 22 yearlings topped at $22,000 to average $13,227. A staggering 21 bulls topped the $20,000 mark, with 17 finding homes at studs.
The sale was conducted by Elders Bathurst’s Andrew Bickford and his team, with auctioneer Paul Dooley of Paul Dooley Pty Ltd in the rostrum.
$9000 averages becoming common
Not so long ago a $9000 bull average was viewed with awe, but no longer, with that figure turning up regularly during the 2016 spring selling season.
Last week Genetics Central listed 33 sales Monday to Saturday and all the results can be found in the Genetics Central recent sales results section, click here.
Another feature this year is the new base price established for bulls of $4000. The message from the auctioneers is loud and clear – if you don’t have $4000 to buy a bull don’t bother raising your hand.
Another comment during the week was the interest being shown in heifer bulls. “Herd rebuilding means retaining more heifers, so no one wants calving problems,” was one comment.
The preference for polls was also noticeable again this week.
While Yulgilbar Santas in northern NSW sold 66 bulls at an average $7113 (including a run of unregistered herd bulls), the polls in the offering averaged $1700 more than their horned brothers.
The intense interest in bull sales this year can be gauged by the fact that more than 500 people attended the Yulgilbar sale on Friday. Buyers flocked to the fixture from South to Kempsey, west to Inverell and north to Clermont in Central Qld.
Other highlights of the past week week included:
- Three Shorthorn sales had a 100pc clearance of 201 bulls, producing a gross of more than $2 million and an average of $9975. The sales were Yamburgan (100 bulls av $10,939, a breed record); Royalla (50 bulls av $7911); and Futurity (51 bulls av $10,127).
- Onslow Angus, where 56 bulls averaged $9754
- Queensland’s Burenda Angus, where 119 bulls averaged $9205, a Queensland breed record.
- Roma Brangus, 102 bulls averaged $8147.
- Karoo Angus, 71 bulls averaged $9056.
- Dunlop Santas, 83 bulls averaged $9054.