WHILE prime and store cattle prices hit dizzying heights, confidence is up locally despite lower hay yields.
That confidence was evident at the Meikle’s Meeniyan stud, Tarwin Poll Herefords.
A steady stream of farmers and customers came to inspect the bulls, heifers and calves and David Meikle reported almost half the available bulls were sold.
“It was noticeable this year that people were looking for the better quality bulls today,” Mr Meikle said after the last of the customers left.
“They’re prepared to buy the better bulls to improve their stock.
“They were looking for easy to handle bulls, with performance records.”
Mr Meikle said the push for top quality bulls reflected better beef prices, as MLA explained recently, Australia’s herd numbers are expected to drop, pushing up demand.
“There is more confidence out there, though a season like this one can undermine that,” Mr Meikle said.
“I think that’s why people are investing now – they want proven performers.
“During a dry season we find people are generally reluctant to buy bulls, and if they do buy, they’ll get in at the last minute, and at that stage the better bulls are already gone.
“People are investing now to make sure they don’t miss out – to have the good stock and being prepared for the joining season.”
Customers were able to see the generations of Tarwin Poll Herefords with the bull the Meikles will use over heifers this season, along with cows and bull calves.
“You don’t often get to see the cows and bull calves on a stud,” Mr Meikle said, “but it shows the cows can produce the goods.
“Like all farmers in the region, we didn’t make as much hay as we normally do, and I’m very proud of the condition of the cows and how they are handling the season.”
An investment generations ago
NEVILLE Meikle’s father started the Tarwin Poll Hereford stud almost by accident.
The dairy farmers bought the next door neighbour’s block and with it, a couple of poll Herefords.
“We bought our first bull in 1950,” Neville said.
“My father bought it directly from the breeder at the Royal Melbourne Show – he paid 200 guineas, it seemed a fortune at the time.
“Locally bulls were bought for around 20 pound.”
But the bull performed well and the family’s stud grew.
“When I got involved I bred a bull but I couldn’t sell it locally.
“Even at 100 guineas there was nobody who would buy it at that price around here.
“So I took it to the show and sold it for 120 guineas.”
A Hereford agent, noticing the potential of the Meikle family’s legacy from that ribbon winning bull, encouraged the family to persevere.
And that, they say, is history.
Neville went on to join all the major boards in the Hereford breed program – serving for over 34 years on the state board, and in 2004 he was elected as a Life Member of the Hereford Association.
During his time as a major breeder locally, and now watching his son David selling bulls, Neville said it was gratifying to see how those early genetics he worked on has led to top performing cattle, with easy calving, good growth, and even temperament.
“The market for meat has changed,” Neville said.
“So they’re longer these days, but they’ve certainly maintained their thickness – they’ve still got their good structure that they’re known for.”