Island Angus on 2000km trek to the sun

KING Island might be home for the Raff family and its Angus bull stud but demand in their Queensland homeland means a long journey for some popular bulls.

One consignment of 120 Raff Angus bulls are making the journey of almost 2000 kilometres by sea and road to Condamine in Queensland. The Raff Angus bull sale on August 19 will be the 40th on-property bull auction sale for Raff Angus.

“This is a massive undertaking, however, we are committed to providing our Angus seedstock in an environment where they are best suited and best appreciated,” Andrew Raff said.

“Last year all bulls sent north were sold for breeding duties having travelled safely and passed all selection and examination requirements. “While an exceptional outcome we would expect little variance from this result for this year’s bulls.

We have a fantastic team working with us during this period which undoubtably contributes to such successful outcomes.” David Raff founded the Raff Angus stud in 1965 in Queensland.

A major restructure of Raff Angus culminated in the sale of the Queensland property and the purchase of land on King Island. David and Jill moved to King Island in January 2015 with Andrew, Anna and family moving down in September 2015.

In 2021 David and Jill relocated back to Toowoomba, Queensland. Andrew Raff with his wife Anna and young family Harry, Charlie, Georgina and Olivia are responsible for all aspects of the King Island business from sire selection and breeding decisions to the general day-to-day cattle husbandry, farm management and record keeping.

Anna, who is a vet, is responsible for the AI and animal health duties as well as all the business financial work. Every Angus female on farm is Herdbook-registered with the Angus Breed Society and their property gained Organic Certification in August 2021 selling its first King Island Certified Organic Beef in January this year. Raff Angus will calve down 800 stud females in spring 2022 and autumn 2023.

Thirty per cent of resulting progeny are sold as breeding seedstock and 70 per cent are sold into the Australian Certified Organic Beef market and processed at Greenham in Smithton. “Following our move south in 2015 we sold bulls through private sales in the paddock for four years,” Andrew Raff said.

“During this time the greater percentage of these bulls sold would return back to Queensland to loyal repeat clients.”

In spring 2021 Raff Angus returned to the Queensland on-property sale arena where they sold 105 bulls. “This sale, and all moving forward, was held back at our old farm Mundibulanga, Drillham, in Queensland which we sold outright in 2015,” Mr Raff said. “We had built a magnificent seedstock selling facility there and now, thanks to the property’s new owners, are fortunate to be able to lease the selling complex facilities during this selling period.

“We have returned to Queensland to market our bulls because that area is ultimately home for Raff Angus having provided Angus seedstock in Queensland for 50 years prior to our move south in the quest for seasonal consistency and certainty. “We have tremendous client support there and by having such loyalty to our program it was an obvious decision. “We needed several years to settle into such a contrasting environment as King Island to allow clarity of both management and business direction before returning to an annual on-property sale.”

The 120 bulls that left King Island on April 20 included 55 spring-born bulls and 65 autumn-born bulls. By the time sale day rolls around they will be 18 to 23 months old. “Prior to them leaving King Island these bulls received their required vaccinations including red water tick fever – a requirement for bulls that are sold into cattle tick country,” Mr Raff said.

“They were performance recorded for their growth traits, scrotal size and frame score measured, they were ultrasound scanned for their carcase traits (eye muscle area, fat depths rib/rump and marbling percentage) and freeze branded with their identification numbers and our Raff Angus Carpenters Bench Axe Symbol. “They have also been genomic tested for performance traits and for sire verification.”

The bulls’ journey began by boat from King Island, across Bass Strait then to Welshpool Port where Falls Transport backloaded them to Finley, NSW.

bull for comparison. “On the Wednesday prior to our Friday sale day the bulls will again be loaded back onto a truck for a short 40 minute trip to Mundibulanga in readiness for sale day,” Mr Raff said. “Thursday they are all individually washed, paint branded with their lot numbers and a lot tag replaces their ident tag in their ears. They have their final ‘once over’ examination to confirm that they are fit for sale.