Maintenance makes the staion go round

28 Jun, 2000 11:08 AM
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YALLALONG station's Vaughan Barndon believes in the three Ms: maintenance, maintenance, maintenance. "Maintenance on the station needs to be continuous, if you stop, it builds up and you get to the point where you will never catch up," Vaughan said. Vaughan has applied this philosophy to his 283,400-hectare station with 64 kilometres of Murchison river frontage, located 160km north-east of Geraldton. In the eight years he has been on Yallalong, he has put up 250km of fencing, added 12 new watering points, upgraded the shearing machinery and yards, put in an extensive solar power system and wind turbine and even had the Internet hooked up a few weeks ago. Two months ago, Vaughan set up 48-volt solar power system with 36 solar panels that supplies four separate houses on the station with 24 hours of power. The panels, which will eventually be increased to 60, are backed up by a large wind turbine, which has replaced the old diesel system. The power system was built on a government grant of $40,000, with the total cost coming to $92,000. Along the same line of continuous improvements, Vaughan recently bought 10 Gelbvieh bulls from Daryl Reynolds, High Plains, Northampton, to better his cattle breeding and improve his market prospects. The Gelbvieh bulls will be put over his existing Hereford-Shorthorn base breeders and some Angus-Charolais/Simmental cross breeders. Vaughan bought the Gelbviehs because of their temperament, excellent crossing ability, good fertility rate, early puberty age and milking capabilities. "After talking to lot feeders, looking at information trial results from the eastern states and talking to people from abattoirs, Gelbviehs seem to come up the best," he said. Vaughan will aim the progeny towards the southern lot feeding market and has even been doing sums on establishing his own feedlot. "We are close to the agricultural areas to get grain and ideally situated on the way to Geraldton, so freight is not a huge cost," he said. "The big problem is that it is a seven day-a-week job, so I would have to have someone looking after it all the time." Vaughan plans to conduct a small feedlot trial next summer. In addition to the Gelbviehs, Vaughan uses Droughtmaster bulls from Mimosa and Ochre which helps him to access both the live export and feedlot market. Last year, he sold 800 cattle off the station through Elders and received 140c/kg for the males. He has a reasonably strict culling program for his females, culling for age and temperament. "It doesn't matter how young or good the female is, if it even looks like playing up, it is gone," he said. Vaughan takes the temperament of his cattle very seriously, being careful during mustering time to keep the cattle calm. "The aeroplane only spots and then the motorbikes come in, if they start running, they are slowed down and made to walk," he said. He also has a philosophy of selling when the going is good and not hanging on, just because people think the market might continue to increase. "If you have a light season, sell while your stock are still strong and never wait for it to rain next season because it might not," he said. Last year, Vaughan experienced excellent unseasonal rains in March with cyclone Vance and May rainfall. This was followed by a very light traditional winter season of June/July/August with only 60mm. "I thought this could be the start of a couple of light seasons, which do arrive from time to time, so we sold every old cow I could muster and culled the heifers in January and came up with excellent prices," he said. Vaughan believes a station owner should never buy in feed or agist their cattle in the hope it will rain. "Sell them straight away and avoid all the additional costs and, if need be, buy them back later."

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