Keeping breeders in strong condition during calving will be a key priority for producers like Jeremy and Brenda McMillan as the reality of spring sets in.
The couple run 750 Santa Gertrudis cows across 5800ha on two properties in the Glenmorgan district in southern Queensland, including their home block, Doonba 60km south of Glenmorgan.
The McMillans have been gradually reducing stock numbers in line with the season but with their cows about to start calving they're locked in to a busy feeding plan for at least a few more months.
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They bought the cows as heifers several years ago and intended to join them and trade them as PTIC heifers.
"But it never rained so the market never kicked and we just kept them," Mr McMillan said.
"We've still been looking for options to trade them but it hasn't happened and we are committed to calving them out now. The minute the season breaks though they will be on the market."
The cows, joined to Angus bulls, have been supplemented with dry lick but the family are looking at options like pellets once they start calving.
"We aren't out of grass yet but it's not looking good," he said.
The McMillans have also offloaded their progeny earlier than normal, with a line of Angus/Santa cross weaner steers and heifers selling through the Roma Store Sale today.
The 158 steers averaged 193kg and made up to 310c/kg to average 307c/kg or $593/head. The line of 194 heifers averaged 185kg and made an average of 250c/kg or $461/head.
"I was hoping for a c/kg price that started with a 3 so we're pretty happy," Mr McMillan said after the sale.
"It's about where we were expecting the market to be."
Mr McMillan said the best of their weaners were sold six weeks ago, with the steers making 290c/kg and the heifers 250c/kg at that time.
"We sold those straight off mum and hung on to the remainder in the hope the season would break and we'd background them" he said.
They are also keeping a line of 144 heifers and will put them on a feedlot ration.
Mr McMillan said keeping females should give them more marketing options once the season does break.
"If it rains they will be a nice line of black females that will be in demand and we can make a decision about what to do with them then," he said.
After minimal summer rainfall, Doonba received 60mm in March, followed by 30mm in April and 12mm in May.
Mr McMillan said while that had left them with very little dry feed, they were at least fortunate to be selling stock onto a solid market.
"Normally you'd be looking at getting 150c/kg (for weaners) and things would be looking very bad so we feel very positive about the market," he said.
The family also have about 600 Dorper/Aussie White cross ewes and 250 nanny goats joined to Kalahari Red bucks.
"We put our exclusion fence up four years ago and we caught 40 goats at the time and left them inside the fence," he said.
"We mustered a little while back and got over 400 goats. We sent 170 billies to Charleville and got $220/head. That's a good news story."
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