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Old 21-02-2011, 07:24 AM
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Kelly Kelly is offline
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Default Restocking after the broken drought and flooding rains

Above average rains have thrown up new management challenges and opportunities on Commodore Station, south of Parachilna in the northern Flinders Ranges.

Commodore Station manager Chris Reynolds is building up the station's Poll Hereford herd on the back of the broken drought and flooding rains which have rejuvenated the pastoral region.

Chris has managed the 28,350 hectare property for three years.

He says in the past few years, the seasons were only getting worse dishing up drought and dust storms until November 2009 when it "started raining and just didn't stop".

About 325 millimetres of rain was recorded on the property last year, well above the 200mm average.

And Chris has found more reasons to smile with the station's stock numbers on the rise through breeding and restocking, income flowing from stock agisted on the property and sale cattle receiving solid prices at southern markets.

With stock numbers down after the drought, Chris is carefully restocking to capitalise on the abundant feed, particularly in the station's floodout and swampy country.

The station comfortably runs up to 450 breeding cattle and their progeny, plus 330 head of cattle on agistment. Last year during the dry, numbers were right down to 230 head across the whole station.

But with rains fuelling a new found optimism, Chris took a punt and bought 80 heifers in January last year.

He had three options in mind because, at the time, the season was "still not that convincing".

If it did not keep raining, he could fatten the cattle and on sell. If there was more rain, he could put the bull over them and sell as pregnancy tested in calf or if it just kept on raining, he could keep the cattle and calve out and start to build up a good line of breeders.

The rains kept coming and now, with plenty of available feed, the females are staying on the place and many have already calved out, with rates up at 98 per cent.

Chris is holding on to everything he can to build up numbers. Breeding up rather than buying in ensures cattle do well in local conditions and are acclimatised to the country.

Eye pigmentation is a top factor in Commodore's cattle culling and breeding program due to high rates of cattle eye cancer in the region.

Bulls are in with the cows all year round about one bull to 50 cows and about 70pc of calves are born later in the year rather than earlier.

Cattle are bought in to supplement bred stock but cashflow is still tight after the dry years. A steady monthly income from cattle agisted on Commodore has been the saving grace.
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