IN ONE of the biggest stock offerings included in a property transaction in recent times, more than 60,000 head of Brahman cattle will be included in the offering of extensive NT grazing properties, Maryfield and Limbunya.
Vendor Colin Ross’s North Star Pastoral has owned the holdings, totalling 670,000 hectares, since 2007 and 2009, respectively.
Maryfield, a little over 2000sq km, is located on the edge of the Barkly Tableland on the Stuart Highway north of Daly Waters. Neighbours include Kalala and Nutwood Downs.
Limbunya, 5222sq km, is in the heart of the Victoria River District, towards the WA border. Neighbours include Waterloo and Victoria River Downs.
The two properties are being offered as an aggregation or separately through an expressions of interest campaign closing 14 January.
Marketing agents said the large-scale holdings had recently completed an extensive capital development program which has transformed these assets into an integrated breeding and finishing business capable of servicing the growing protein demand from global markets.
“The highly productive cattle breeding, backgrounding and finishing facilities of North Star Pastoral are a prime example of what national and international investors have been hoping for,” a marketing statement said.
“Maryfield and Limbunya are considered by many to be among the best in the country, after having spent millions on the construction, upgrade and optimisation of water systems, fencing, pasture improvement, feed mix design and, most significantly, the development of a world class ‘abattoir and export preparation facility’ in central Australia,” the statement said.
“Maryfield and Limbunya are vertically integrated holdings with institutional-scale investment economics. Combined, the properties provide the amalgamation of highly developed Brahman genetics with the rapid weight and margin growth provided through downstream backgrounding and finishing.”
The value of the properties extended far beyond the sum-of-parts being land and cattle, agents suggested – instead, the business had created a “centralised, all-season, high-capacity processing hub to become an important node in the Northern Australia cattle industry.”
The business model on which the operation has been designed, enables the continuous supply and fattening of cattle to take advantage of both the premium live export and domestic processing markets.
With the Maryfield backgrounding property and its finishing facility being located 200km south of Katherine on the Stuart Highway, and less than six hours from Darwin ports, the business utilises the country’s main arterial highways to source cattle anywhere from Queensland to Western Australia.
“With all-weather access and feeding facilities capable of processing more than 90,000 head of cattle annually, North Star Pastoral has the ability to selectively source a wide range of cattle and buffalo from domestic breeding properties, provide the optimal feed mix for maximum animal conditioning and all with the economies of scale required to keep costs of production as low as possible,” the statement said.
Since acquisition of the properties, North Star Pastoral has invested heavily in genetic improvements of the breeding herd at Limbunya, introducing high-quality Brahman stud bulls to support the management of breeder herd age profiles, weaning practices and a highly effective ‘rumen development program’, which accelerates the development and stabilisation of weaners’ rumens prior to entering the backgrounding process at Maryfield. This program concurrently allows early weaning and increased breeder cycling to maximise production efficiency.
Both properties have had significant investment in infrastructure over the past decade including solar-powered low-maintenance bores, hundreds of kilometres of new fences and aerial seeding of pastures which has created a low-cost, highly productive and turn-key beef production operation.
The pasture development program across the stations represents one of the largest investments in pasture improvement undertaken by a private landowner in Northern Territory’s history. The establishment of hardy, drought tolerant legumes and grasses has enabled additional carrying capacity and consistency over the dry season, improved calving rates through breeder condition and increased average animal weights, marketing agents said.
Given the rich soil conditions and flat terrain at Maryfield, North Star Pastoral has begun work on the first of six planned centre-pivots, which will supply irrigated fodder directly into the nearby finishing facility, adding to the business’ vertical integration and reducing production costs even further.
The 10,000 head capacity finishing facility has been constructed to Australian Standards and is designed to minimise animal stress, reduce labour requirements and increase safety for both humans and animals. Large silos and sheds provide ample capacity, flexibility and accuracy to supply corn, soybean, legume, hay, molasses and other ingredients into the purpose-built feed mixers according to expert-designed ratios, therefore driving ideal animal nutrition and optimised weight gain.
Both Limbunya and Maryfield have modern and comfortable manager and employee accommodation, with two spacious and homesteads at Maryfield featuring quality fit-out, granite benchtops, polished timber flooring inside and wrap-around timber veranda overlooking the property. Both properties are well serviced with workshops, storage sheds, machinery sheds, mobile fleet and equipment to remain self-sufficient in mustering, droving, drafting, processing and feeding.
“After years of development and investment, these blue-ribbon assets are being offered for the right investor to take a lead role in the Australian beef market and become a significant player in the global protein supply chain,” agents said.
Given the potential for natural and cost-effective integration with additional breeding properties, many of Australia’s largest landholders will no doubt be lining up for private inspection of the properties in early 2021.
“There are many high quality stations in the Territory, but none that I have seen have had this level of capital expenditure, executed with fastidious attention to detail, operating a meticulous and well thought-out production system which seeks to maximise returns at all levels,” joint marketing agent Danny Thomas from CBRE said.
“Maryfield and Limbunya are testament to Colin Ross’ vision and drive to develop a best in class beef business that can operate year-round,” Mr Thomas said.
The Maryfield and Limbunya aggregation is being offered through Expressions of Interest closing Thursday 14 January. EOI forms are available through the joint selling agents, Olivia Thompson from Nutrien Harcourts and Danny Thomas from CBRE Agribusiness.
Weather permitting, it is anticipated that inspections will start early February next year.