When the first bull in the ring sold for $10,000, everyone knew it was going to be a good sale – but no one was expecting the $36,000 top at the National Braford Bull Sale at Gracemere on Monday.
Buyers and vendors, who had spoken of doom and gloom before the sale, had a spring in their step afterwards as the sale had bucked the trend.
Talk was now of how the Braford breed was gaining in popularity with the 104 bulls sold averaging $5,519, with a 96 per cent clearance.
Two-thirds of the way through the sale, top-price Little Valley Robo was the subject of a frenzied bidding that saw him go under the hammer to Richard Dwyer, Varykino Brafords, Leville, NSW.
Just shy of three years old, the 960 kilograms bull boasted an eye muscle area (EMA) of 130 square centimetres, scrotal circumference of 38 cm, P8 rib fat of 18 millimetres, rib fat of 10mm and intramuscular fat (IMF) of 4.7mm.
And only two bulls later, Little Valley Barraccota sold for $20,000 to Jack Meek, CCC Brafords, Cargara, Augathella.
This 32-month-old bull had a scrotal circumference of 42cm, P8 fat of 18mm, IMF of 5.3mm and an EMA of 128 sq.cm.
The Meek family, also vendors with three bulls, bought another two bulls: Carinya Ogilivie for $12,000 and Carinya Omega for $8000.
Mr Meek said he had started using Brafords around 1982 and has a straight Braford commercial herd running on a 40,000 acre developed western Queensland block that has been planted to buffel. It also has cleared country.
“The new sire with the higher content will be used over classified heifers to get the content up in the herd,” he said of his $20,000 bull.
The $20,000 price tag was reached again when Canadian genetics company, Semex Canada, bought Carinya Onslow.
The 32-month-old bull boasted a scrotal circumference 39cm, P8 of 18mm, rib fat of 10mm, an IMF of 4.4mm and an EMA of 133 sq.cm.
But the sale hadn’t seen the last of the high numbers, and if buyers thought waiting til last would see the prices taper off, they were in for a surprise.
John and Jackie Amor, Carinya Brafords, Dulacca, sold 29-month-old Carinya Officer for $24,000 to Warren Wilson, Wilson Grazing, Redbank, Mitchell, who picked up another four during the sale, averaging $4125.
Mr Wilson was also a vendor, selling all his bulls including one that hit the high notes at $16,000.
Regular buyer Ray Kidd, Cashmere, St George, snapped up Little Valley Beale (031) from the Bennett family, Little Valley Grazing Company.
“He had everything I was looking for in a bull,” Mr Kidd said. “He was a poll, he had a tidy sheath, he was well-balanced, had good feet and a good pedigree.”
Tarolea Hodgson will be put in the paddock near the family home for while and then he will go over a few select cows.
Mr Kidd runs a commercial enterprise and, during a normal season, said his Brafords steers can go to a feedlot at between 400-420kg for 100 to 110 days and hit the Jap Ox market.
“With the tough times, we’re finding they are a bit lighter.”
Meanwhile, the other three bulls, which averaged $5666, will be put into a bull paddock with the other bulls and be fed cotton seed in order to be ready for breeding season.
A veteran of the annual Braford sale, Mr Kidd said he thought everybody was optimistic after the sale.
“People had been wondering how it was going to go, but with these results, everyone is thrilled to bits.
“Imagine if we get some rain over the next few weeks.”
Another high price was hit with $15,000 paid by stud masters Doug and Susie Barnett, Barona Downs, Croppa Creek, NSW, for Burradoo Ossie.
The 39-month-old bull, weighing 952kg, sported a scrotal circumference of 42cm, P8 of 8mm, rib fat of 6mm, IMF of 3.4mm and an EMA of 137 sq.cm.
Volume buyers of the day with 10 bulls averaging $2600 were Barry and Ainsley Galloway, who operate the 26,000 acre property, Barrain, north of Blackwater.
Mrs Galloway said they usually bought 10 bulls each year to replace old bulls and their enterprise markets bullocks for the MSA and EU market.
“We find Brafords are pretty good over the hook to start with and they seem to put up with the droughts,” she said.
Although they have trialled a few other breeds, they have found the Brafords most suitable to their environment and may pick up a few Red Brahman bulls this year to lift up the percentage.
“We like them with a bit of Brahman in them and we like them with a bit of size,” Mrs Galloway said of the bulls they bought.
She said she was surprised at the number of people who attended a pre-sale function and wondered if there was a resurgence in the breed.
“I thought it was a good, all-round sale. I think the vendors would be reasonably happy considering the season we’ve had.”
Other volume buyers included Woodleigh Grazing, Ravenshoe, who bought eight bulls to average $2625.
Charles Green from Trigrigie Cattle Company, Moorabinda, Taroom, bought four to average $5875; Peter Kirkwood, Nestor-Vale, Monto, bought five bulls to average $2800; John and Deb Graving, Moscow, Biloela, bought four bulls to average $3125; and Alan and Julie Hay, Jericho, bought four bulls to average $4000.
The sale finished the way it started, with the final bull going under the hammer for $10,000.