Billabong Best on Offer

by Queensland Country Life on 26/02/2014

John and Catherine Hicks, Billabong Droughtmasters, Moura, are ready to embark on a new chapter in their lives with the dispersal of a herd representing nearly 60 years of breeding.

 

By Sharon Howard

 

FAMILY has not only made the Billabong Droughtmasters success story possible, it’s also the very reason for the somewhat reluctant dispersal of the herd.

For the past twenty years, stud principals, John and Catherine Hicks have enjoyed the enviable position of operating a highly productive beef and seedstock production operation that benefited from five hardworking daughters, Helen, Cassie, Stephanie, Anna and Alex.

 “Together with my parents, Ray and Moya and the girls, we built the stud and developed it.

The girls have all grown up and moved away and are living their own lives and Catherine and I can’t maintain the sheer amount of work that is required to maintain such a large operation,” said Mr Hicks.

The stud can trace its beginnings to 1959 when brothers, Alan and Ray Hicks and their father, LG Hicks joined forces to initiate the Alanray Droughtmaster prefix, a Droughtmaster breed foundation stud.

In the early 60’s, the partnership was dissolved and the now highly respected stud, Billabong was formed.

The stud has been built over many years based on careful selection which has evolved over time.

“Cows are a factory that produces milk to produce and raise big, strong, sappy, fat calves.

If they do that, they stay, if not, they are culled.

Bulls need to get the cows in calf, be in the same or better condition as the cows and maintain their condition for the next season.”

In the quest to produce saleable livestock, the stud focuses on constitution, survivability and temperament.

“I’ve looked at temperament a lot harder in the last 20 years.

With five daughters in the yards, I didn’t want cattle that fire up so they are culled.”

The finale of nearly 60 years of breeding will see 514 stud cows and calves, 300 registered heifers, 58 registered young bulls and 20 stud sires offered over two days at the Billabong Heart of the Herd sale.

Arranged for Monday and Tuesday, March 10 and 11, both days will feature a selection from each classification on offer.

“We really want people who can’t attend both days to have a variety of cattle available.”

In what is probably the largest offering of registered Droughtmaster cows and calves in Australia, nearly 90pc of the cows are pregnancy tested in calf.

The sale presents a unique opportunity to secure a line of elite stud cows including some of the most highly respected show cattle on offer.

2013 Champion heifer, Billabong Arabella has been listed and her 10 year old, great grandmother, Mariska leads the sale at lot 1.

The dam of Arabella, Netty 2nd with a full sister at foot, has been listed at lot 74.

“The cows will have a calf on them, or in them.”

A total of 330 young females will be presented and all had been selected as replacement heifers.

“We selected them to keep, but buyers can now pick from one brand, one vendor, one breed, with confidence.”

The registered young bulls catalogued represent the sale team that would have been offered at the 2014 Billabong annual sale and include sons of some of the most exciting lots in the stud sire classification.

A pair of Billabong Nevada sons are the headline acts in the stud sire classification.

Billabong Rockefellar and Billabong Southern Comfort have long held the respect of fellow Droughtmaster breeders and will be highly sought after.

Also on offer are two of the last Nevada sons, the first sons of Billabong Winchester, and the first and only sons of Medway Radek.

Catalogues are available online at www.billabongbulls.com or on sale day and inspections are welcome from Wednesday, March 5.

“We’d invite buyers to have a few drinks with us on the official inspection day, Sunday after they’ve looked through the sale lots.”

As the family prepares to gather for the final Billabong event, inevitably thoughts turn to the future.

“As sad as it is, the sale is an opportunity for us to show everyone what we do and what we’ve got in the herd and we’re proud of it.”

Billabong Best on Offer

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