Dedicated bull breeding role for Kidman’s Rockybank purchase

Jon Condon, 18/09/2013


Major Australian cattle producer S. Kidman & Co plans to centralise most of its bull-breeding operations, currently scattered across three states, at its newly acquired Rockybank aggregation near Roma in southern Queensland.

As described on Beef Central yesterday, Kidman paid $7.4 million for the 14,600ha Rockybank aggregation near Roma at auction last week, bought from the estate of the late John Quintana.

Settlement will take place in early October.

Kidman chief executive and managing director Greg Campbell said Rockybank would become a ‘bolt-on’ operation to the company’s commercial cattle production interests, used specifically to support herd bull breeding activity.

“Presently we have stud breeding activity scattered both on some of our own properties, and on a contract basis with other people,” Mr Campbell said.

The Kidman Santa Gertrudis stud, for example, is located and managed on a contract basis on a property near Condobolin in NSW, but that will now be relocated to Rockybank.

Similarly, Kidman’s Coolibah composite, F1 Tuli/Murray Grey and Charbray breeding programs have been taking place on the company’s Morney Plains Station west of Windorah in southwestern Queensland, and on Brunchilly in the NT.

“We’ll bring all those programs back to Rockybank, turning it into a dedicated bull breeding and composite multiplier herd,” Mr Campbell said.

The scale of Rockybank, at 14,600ha, would mean the company might actually breed a few less bulls for its own requirements, with a capacity for around 1700 stud females to be mated each year. Total cattle numbers will be around 3600 head.

As a result of that size limitation, Kidman plans to retain the Tuli (tropically-adapted Bos Taurus, with good meat quality genetics and light coat colour) herd at Morney Plains, and the Murray Grey seedstock herd at Keith in South Australia.

Kidman composite bullsAs described in this earlier Beef Central article, S. Kidman is developing a composite program combining adaptation, meat quality and fertility, in a genetic package that also features a lighter coat colour, which the company believes helps with ability to cope with heat load during summer conditions in the north.

“We’ve been looking for a suitable stud depot for some time in that Roma-Surat- Goondiwindi triangle on southern Queensland, but there were very few properties available with enough scale to make it worthwhile,” Mr Campbell said.

The region was a popular tick-free breeding area for seedstock operations.

Even after the transition to bull breeding at Rockybank, Kidman would remain a player in the broader bull-buying market, he said, particularly for Santas and Charbrays carrying desirable objective assessment performance.

Tuli cattle currently stationed on Morney PlainsIn fact the company is in the spring bull sales market in Queensland this week, looking for tropical bulls – mostly Brahman and Charbray – for it composite building program.

Kidman is budgeting at this stage on turning off around 470 herd bulls each year from its new Rockybank aggregation, still well short of total annual bull replacement requirements within the company’s herd of 200,000 cattle.

Mr Campbell said after culling on type and structure, the company was looking at around 60pc male calf retention as herd bull replacements within its Santa breeding nucleus herd, but less than that for the composite program, because it was still going through a stabilisation process.

“These are cattle that have been put together out of four breeds, and they have not yet had the years and years of structural selection pressure like that applied within the Santa breed,” he said.

Last week’s Rockybank acquisition represents Kidman’s first land purchase since it bought the Tungali feedlot and farm in South Australia in 2006. Prior to that, the previous purchase was the huge 10,000sq km Helen Springs aggregation in the NT in 2004.

The company sold Quinaby in South Australia and Sandringham in southwestern Queensland in recent years in a realignment of property assets.






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