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Weighing up a piece of King Ranch cattle history at Reiland

by Kim Woods, 18 June 2017

Owen Lucas with the display unit at Killimicat Station showcasing the original weigh scales imported from the US in the 1950s by the famous King Ranch. Click image for a larger view

 

A SET of historic scales that once graced the cattle yards at the Australian headquarters of King Ranch now make a unique display on a southern NSW beef seedstock property.

The old-fashioned counter-weight cattle scales, complete with a life-sized statue of a bull and historical memorabilia, were unveiled at Killimicat Station, Tumut, to mark 45 years of stud cattle breeding by the Lucas family.

The late Roland and Eileen Lucas had bred Angus cattle commercially for many years before founding their Angus stud, Reiland, in 1972.

The couple managed without cattle weigh-scales until their son Owen sourced the original set from the Australian headquarters of the famous Waxahachie, Texas-based Santa Gertrudis breeders, King Ranch.

King Ranch, which bought the first Santa Gertrudis cattle to Australia in 1952, had bought Milton Park, at Bowral, in 1960 as the headquarters for its Santa Gertrudis cattle and Quarter Horses to Australia. National records were established at the Milton Park annual stud stock auctions.

The scales would have been amongst the first used for animal performance recording in the Australian cattle industry. King Ranch had been measuring ‘rate of gain’ in its cattle in Texas since the early 1950s. The scales were later sold to the Lucas family, and went on to weigh thousands of cattle at Reiland Angus until replaced by modern digital scales.

Owen Lucas, of Sutton Forest, and his brothers, Mark and Harry, acknowledged the significance of the original scales to the nation’s cattle industry, and wanted to make them a showpiece at Reiland.

They are now housed in a portable and weatherproof shed at Reiland along with a lifesized statue of an Angus bull, named Reiland Standstill, and a set of digital scales.

Owen had spotted a fibreglass replica of a Santa Gertrudis bull at the Roebuck Bay Roadhouse, in Western Australia, and tracked down the sculptor, Natureworks, in Queensland.

A life size statue of an Angus bull was commissioned and now takes pride of place in the display.

Documents and photographs on the history of the Angus breed and Reiland Angus were gathered by Mark and Anna Lucas to complete the visual display.

It was unveiled to the public at the Reiland annual autumn bull sale on April 19.

“Everyone was interested to walk through, have a look and a read,’’ Owen said.

“It will be permanently on display at Killimicat Station and celebrates 45 years of breeding Angus cattle by the family.

“The family history traces from dairy farming at Wildes Meadow to the establishment of the Reiland Stud.

“The display has been a real family effort with different members helping with the shed, floor, photo frames, painting and historical information.’’

The Angus breed history includes Old Grannie, a producer of at least 25 calves and the first Angus female recorded in the Australian herd book. She was calved in 1824 and died in 1859.

Historic prints include polled Aberdeen cattle exhibited at the Paris International Exhibition by William McCombie of West Aberdeenshire in 1879.

Mark Lucas said the Australian beef industry was at a “cherished point in time”.

“Breeders have toughed-it-out, and are in the driving seat for this purple patch to continue,’’ he said.

“With feeder steer prices at 360c/kg, the industry has risen to a profit pinnacle not previously experienced.’’

Early King Ranch Santa Gertrudis bull sale at Milton Park, near Bowral.



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