The MacCue family, well known for its award-winning feedlot and involvement in the Sydney Royal Easter Show feedlot trials, has put its highly productive property on the market.
Agents expect the aggregation will fetch more than $25 million.
Ian and Louise MacCue, together with son Michael and his family, run neighbouring properties Wilga and Woodlands totalling 2116 hectares at Bellata in the 600-millimetre rainfall zone of north-west NSW.
The couple has moved to Goondiwindi and Ian said Michael and family were yet to decide their new direction.
The multifaceted MacCue enterprise incorporates Wilga Feedlot, Tookey Creek and Jarrah Park Santa Gertrudis studs, as well as 1585ha of mixed cropping country.
The feedlot, licensed for 5000 head, has a current capacity of 3200 cattle.
Largely destocked now in anticipation of the sale, it contains a mere 400 cattle for the Sydney Royal Beef Challenge, which the family has hosted every year since the event began in 2011.
Rayner Ag's Alastair Rayner is involved in the Beef Challenge and said he was grateful for the support the MacCues had offered the industry.
"They're going to leave a big hole," Mr Rayner said.
He said the family had dedicated a lot of time to helping others understand the performance of their livestock by participating in the challenge.
"Michael was really one of the key movers to help us get the feedlot competition going," Mr Rayner said.
"Hosting a feedlot competition is always a bit of a hassle because it does disrupt the way that feedlots normally operate but they went over and above to make sure there were opportunities for everyone to see their cattle.
"It's hard to describe just how modest they are and how much they've done."
While the Beef Challenge introduced the Wilga feedlot to many in the industry, its main purpose has of course been far more commercial.
In 1992, the MacCues decided to build a feedlot to finish their weaner cattle but soon realised the infrastructure had to be operated continuously and began a long-lasting relationship with BJA Stock and Station Agents.
Less than two years later, the MacCue family supplied their first contracted pen of cattle to Woolworths.
More recently, the family have supplied Coles and Kilcoy Pastoral Company.
The award-winning feedlot is managed by Michael, while Ian focuses on the farming side of the business and, Louise, the Tookey Creek Santa Gertrudis stud.
Ian MacCue is the president of the Santa Gertrudis Breeders Association and vice president Michael Doering said Mr MacCue was "a really nice bloke" who had fostered young and established members alike.
"He's not pushy with his ideas but he encourages new ideas and tries to embrace and encourage everyone in what they're doing," Mr Doering said.
Mr Rayner described the MacCue enterprise as "first class" and said the family's attention to detail and relationships with people across the industry were remarkable.
"They are held in such great respect and it's because what they do, they do incredibly well," he said.
The information memorandum compiled to sell the MacCue's property offers a glimpse into just how fastidiously run the place is, referencing comprehensive paddock records dating from 1976.
"They can tell you every cultivation, how much it cost for every spray application right down to all the chemicals, including the wetters," Mr MacCue said.
"Anything you want to know about the paddock, the urea, the day we sowed the crop, how many in-crop sprays there were, when and what they were, and then how much profit we made out of it."
Mr Rayner said the same philosophy was obvious when it came to the Wilga feedlot.
"Their property is a magic place and the feedlot isn't one of those scruffy, half rundown sort of things," he said.
"It's a very, very well thought out and well operated enterprise."
The feedlot has kept pace with technology, incorporating a fully-automated feed mill and liquid batching plant, and has plenty of water with a high-capacity bore and large dams.
The level of automation has made the feedlot efficient to staff but it remained the most demanding facet of the enterprise, Mr MacCue said, although the entire farm was run with four-and-a-half full-time labour units.
"Drafting and processing cattle at the feedlot was the bulk of the work and, at times, all hands were on deck working at the feedlot," he said.
Ian MacCue estimates 12,000 contracted cattle pass through the feedlot a year, with groups spending about 100 days on feed.
"I once worked out the number of cattle that we've put through the feedlot would have fed a good steak to every Australian," he said.
While most of the feeder cattle are go directly onto grain, the cropping land supplies the feedlot with winter wheat and barley crops as well as all its hay and silage.
BJA Stock and Station Agents' Bob Jamieson Mr Jamieson said the farm offered the opportunity to create a vertically-integrated supply chain for branded boxed beef product or contract price supply chain certainty.
The new vendor will access 1585ha of cultivation country with a full moisture profile.
The MacCues plan to sow 622ha of wheat as soon as conditions allow, which will be included in the sale.
There is also an excellent 227ha dryland cotton crop on Wilga that will be picked before sale and retained by the family. The rest of the cultivation country is under fallow.
The farming country enjoys a substantial side benefit from the feedlot.
More than 15,000 tonnes of composted feedlot manure has been spread over the aggregation in the last 15 years.
The manure is good for the soils, which range from rich, red loams on Woodlands to deep, black alluvial soils on Wilga.
And, on a section of the property with native, never-sown pastures, independent analysis by the Precision Pastures company of Armidale showed there was significant potential for a soil carbon project.
A ridge of what Mr MacCue describes as top-quality Bellata gravel is used to maintain roads across the farm and feedlot surfaces.
The property has three homes. There's a five-bedroom, two-bathroom weatherboard house dating from the sixties with a new in-ground pool and solar panels.
The newest of them, built in 2009, is also a five-bedroom, two-bathroom homestead and there's a three-bedroom cottage, too.
Sheds include a three-stand shearing shed, a 500-600 tonne capacity grain shed, and large machinery shed.
The two adjoining properties that make up the aggregation, the 1080ha Wilga and 1036ha Woodlands, are available as a whole or individually, although Mr MacCue said the family would prefer it be sold in one lot.
BJA's Bob Jamieson said recent sales of farming land in the district suggested a range of $4500-$6000 an acre before the value of the crops and feedlot were taken into account.
"Wilga aggregation carries some pasture country but buyers will combine knowledge of recent nearby property sales, the value of the hard-to-come-by 5000-head feedlot licence, the excellent improvements and vendor history of farm management, as well as the outstanding commodity prices, full profile of moisture and bonus 662ha sown wheat crop to arrive at a $25m-plus valuation," he said.
Expressions of interest close on July 6. Mr Jamieson said Ian and Louise MacCue were retiring, meaning the farm would definitely be sold.
- Contact Bob Jamieson, 0428 669 313.