Wave Hill Cattle Station, established in 1883, covers 12,500 sq km with 40,000 Brahman cattle for live export. The station was purchased in 2021 for A$104M and the new owners are investing $40M in new solar-powered water wells and fencing that will allow them to expand the portion of station land available for cattle by 50% and increase the total herd size to 65,000. The formerly undeveloped land is semi-desert.
Cattle ranching is very seasonal in the Northern Territory, with most of the non-sealed roads unusable during the wet season from December through March, when the cattle are left in near-wild conditions to graze on the abundant fresh grass, and the stations have only a skeleton crew of caretakers. You can maintain a healthy herd on a well-run cattle station while selling about 1/3 of the livestock yearly. They sell all the 2-year-old cattle except the most desirable young females and sell all the unproductive old females and male calves. The bulls are bought from off-station to keep them genetically mixed, and are vaccinated against venereal diseases, and all adult cattle are vaccinated against botulism. Approx 3 bulls per hundred cows. The mustering is done to sort through the herd and separate the one-year-old “weaners” from their mothers. All the weaners will be branded and given ear tags, and the males will be castrated. They will do a pregnancy test on all of the cows, and the old unproductive females and all the 2-year-old male calves will be trucked out to the live export market.
- ©2023 George Steinmetz
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