The Land

Droughtmaster rises to the occasion making them the breed of choice

Brett and Leanne Warne with granddaughter Ivy in front of a line of breeders with new season calves at Ten Mile, near Casino, NSW. Picture supplied
Brett and Leanne Warne with granddaughter Ivy in front of a line of breeders with new season calves at Ten Mile, near Casino, NSW. Picture supplied

This is branded content for Droughtmaster.

Seasonal volatility that began with the Black Summer bushfires of 2019-20, followed by flooding rains in the middle of a global pandemic have seen Droughtmaster rise to the occasion, according to Droughtmaster president Todd Heyman.

"When times are testing you, whether that's in the paddock or in other aspects of your business or life, it certainly helps to have a breed that is low-maintenance and adaptable and gives you options when market conditions are volatile," Mr Heyman said.

"We've seen this play out in Western Australia, where producers are now buying Droughtmasters in big numbers because they are looking to expand their options should disruptions happen again to the live export trade.

"Beef producers in NSW are no different in that they are also looking to expand their options should seasonal conditions remain highly variable."

The Clarence Valley stud breeder said the evidence could be seen throughout the State's saleyards, where a larger yarding of Droughtmaster was now far more frequent, starting with his local facility at Grafton but even the bigger selling centres at Dubbo and Tamworth.

"They're just popping up in places where we've never really seen them before," he said.

At Delungra, Heitiki Droughtmaster stud principal Tim Lloyd said business had never been stronger.

It is a significant claim given Heitiki was one of the first Droughtmaster studs established in NSW, founded by Tim's father, John, and mother Margaret, in 1980 after running the breed commercially from the 1970s.


The demand for Droughtmaster females is strong due to their moderate frame, reliable rebreeding and low maintenance. Picture supplied
The demand for Droughtmaster females is strong due to their moderate frame, reliable rebreeding and low maintenance. Picture supplied

"Certainly, we've seen big numbers sold out west, particularly the Droughtie female," Tim Lloyd said.

"Everyone loves the Droughtie cow because she's productive and a good mother and gives her calves such a great start.

"And we now have people ringing us wanting to buy Droughtmaster because they're not just hearing about them - they're seeing for themselves what they're capable of - and that's a massive change.

"No doubt it's been spurred on by the dryness and the still difficult conditions that have followed, but there's a realisation that you're not going to make a motza just by running black cattle - it's more important to have cattle that are efficient, not cost you a lot to run and won't die on you."

To save what he could when the dry had exhausted all other options, Tim Lloyd sent three decks of cattle to Longreach in Queensland's central-west on agistment.

"Looking back on it, 2018-19, for all of its challenges seasonally, was a very good year for us, because a lot people realised the value of that bos Indicus infusion in their cattle," he said.

"The years of just chasing premiums following the black cattle trend began to decline from that time, I believe, because the need for cattle that can survive and look after themselves and get in-calf became much higher up on the list of priorities.

"If you can lower your costs, stabilise your business and your stress levels, then that's just about everything to a beef producer in 2023."

Jembrae Droughtmaster stud principal Brett Warne, like Tim Lloyd, has been involved with Droughtmaster all his life.

Mr Warne said the product Jembrae was offering from near Casino was meeting the growing appetite of the market.

While he believes interest and demand for Droughtmaster has always been strong in NSW, these days the trend is for bigger numbers and bigger dollars paid for quality.

The annual Droughtmaster National Female Sale is well supported by buyers from NSW. Stonebridge Droughtmasters, Capeen Creek, NSW are regulars at the sale, taking this little beauty, 12-month Vale View Emerald 2, home in 2021. Picture supplied
The annual Droughtmaster National Female Sale is well supported by buyers from NSW. Stonebridge Droughtmasters, Capeen Creek, NSW are regulars at the sale, taking this little beauty, 12-month Vale View Emerald 2, home in 2021. Picture supplied

"I would say the demand for the Droughtmaster female has always been very strong. They are good mums, they mature into a moderately framed, to large style cow, always easy to handle and are reliable to get a calf out of," Mr Warne said.

"What goes on in this part of the world is blokes look for a F1 red-hided Droughtmaster female to join to a terminal sire like a Simmental, Angus or Charolais to build a breeding base.

"I'd say I'm getting calls at least fortnightly from buyers looking for Droughtmaster females.

"And they don't want to just buy 10, now they want to buy a deck or two decks at a time.

"If I had 6000 Droughtmaster PTIC cows or unjoined heifers, I would sell the lot today with barely any effort."

Visit the Droughtmaster website and Facebook page for information on upcoming Droughtmaster sales, including the upcoming Droughtmaster National Female Sale (11 March, Gympie) and Droughtmaster Commercial Female Sale (25 May, online via AuctionsPlus).