HIGH-profile Western Australia Droughtmaster breeder Michael Thompson and family of Mundabullangana Station, Port Headland, have given the breed its latest vote of confidence by buying Steve and Claire Farmer’s Comanche Droughtmaster Stud for an undisclosed price.
The transaction includes 288 registered females, 76 calves and 18 bulls and involves a return trip of nearly 10,000 kilometres for road transport operators. It is expected to be finalised by the end of this month.
Overall, the sale involves 60 per cent of the Comanche stud herd including the stud prefix, and was negotiated by Landmark Stud Stock agents, Colby Ede, and Trent McKinlay.
Comanche Droughtmasters, was formerly based at Comanche Station, Morinish, west of Rockhampton, and more recently relocated to Mt Elsa, Canoona, north of Rockhampton.
The sale is the second largest Droughtmaster stud buy-up, sitting just behind the buyout of the Hewitt family’s Fairhaven prefix to Dean and Julie Allen, Tarcombe, Longreach, in 2014.
Stud principal Steve Farmer, who has been operating Comanche Droughtmasters with his wife Claire and their three children Hugh, Hamish and Lara, first met Michael Thompson when he brought bulls at the Rockhampton Droughtmaster National Sale in 2007.
Since then, Mr Thompson, working with Port Hedland livestock agent Kim Goad has brought many bulls.
“The sale was dearer in 2011, and I started to work out that my bulls needed to be a certain weight because we’ve got to truck them so far,” Mr Thompson said. “Pastoralists need bulls to be able to be tipped out in to a 100,000 acre paddock in hot weather and walk 10kms in a night, so I need lighter bulls,” he said.
“The majority of bulls at the national sale were prepared for a different market.”
So Mr Thompson came up with his own remedy.
“I spoke to 10 or 12 of the best breeders at the national sale and asked for first offer to buy and to choose from their paddock bulls after they’d selected their sale team,” he said.
“I’d come over in March, pay for the bulls and collect them in September. “They weighed between 580kg and 620kg and that is a good weight for my operation without the sale preparation.
“Then I could afford the right colour, the polled bulls with good sheath, good muscle and good bone.”
After being offered the Comanche stud in 2014 and declining, he revisited the prospect in 2015 and with the assistance of Landmark managed to secure a deal.
“Claire Farmer had perfect records; all the cattle were DNA registered and all were poll tested so we’ve got a library of information about the herd and it’s a credit to them both,” he said
The new stud operators handpicked their herd based on polled status and age. “We bought no females over eight years and nothing horned unless they were exceptional animals.
Polled genetics key
“We also chose 17 bulls from this year’s potential sale team.
“Our whole herd is based around the best polled genetics that the Comanche herd had.”
This sale is designed to allow the Farmer family to downsize and free up capital to invest in other unrevealed opportunities.
“We’ve retained nearly 250 females and we’ll start a new stud called SC Droughtmasters,” Mr Farmer said.
“I’ve been breeding Droughtmasters since I was 14-years-old, first with the Calveston prefix and then 21 years under Comanche.
“Michael has bought all those years of breeding and with the amount of bulls that he’s selling in Western Australia, purchasing our stud was probably a fairly obvious choice,” he said.
The Munda operation runs 7000 breeders along with 300 stud bulls at Mundabullangana in the Pilbara, and currently 1800 head of Black Angus females at Glencoe, near Gin Gin just north of Perth.
The business currently sells between 300 and 400 bulls a year to commercial buyers within Western Australia.
Now, Mr Thompson plans to breed about 1000 bulls a year that will suit WA pastoralists and give them value for money.
Mr Thompson praised all of the agents involved in the transaction.
“I really want to thank Colby Ede and Trent McKinlay and Landmark in general for good service and how hard they’ve worked to bring this together.
“Also thanks to the now retired Bruce Scott, formally of Landmark for his help over the years.
“And to Kim Goad, who is the polish for my dirty old boots and he’s taught me everything I know about the beef industry.”
Landmark Livestock manager Brendan Wade said the company was delighted to conduct a sale of such significance.
“It really signifies the capable commitment by our staff members, Trent McKinlay and Colby Ede, and our overall commitment to the stud stock industry,” Mr Wade said.
Caption above… Signing off on the Comanche are Steve Farmer, Mt Elsa, Canoona and his children, Hamish, Hugh and Lara, Colby Ede, Landmark Toowoomba, Kim Goad, Goad Livestock, Port Hedland, Michael Thompson, Mundabullangana, Port Hedland, Trent McKinlay, Landmark Rockhampton and Claire Farmer. (ABC Rural: Matt Brann)