It will be the end of an era next week when Pitlochry Station, near Kingston, disperses its high quality Poll Hereford herd, representing more than 60 years of breeding.
In June, the Lowe family accepted an offer from Tom and Pat Brinkworth who own the adjoining South East properties to the north and south, in a deal brokered through Elders.
The European Union accredited herd, comprising 840 cows and 140 heifers, will be offered on the station at Tilley Swamp next Thursday, August 16, at 1pm.
It presents a rare opportunity to buy large lines of well-bred cattle.
The cows have March to May 2018 drop calves and have been re-joined for 10-12 weeks, from late May, either to Pitlochry Poll Herefords or Angus sires from SA studs, Stoney Point, Pathfinder, Glatz’s Black Angus and JB Angus.
Pitlochry has run a closed herd and bred its own bulls from a nucleus of Herefords Australia performance-recorded females with the occassional AI program to infuse new genetics.
In more recent years it began crossbreeding a portion of the herd to Angus due to market demand.
The 9100-hectare property was developed from a mallee scrub block by Adelaide meat wholesaler Ken Lowe, who bought it in 1954 to diversify his City Meat Company business.
He led the family’s investment, gradually clearing paddocks and overcoming many challenges, including working with the CSIRO to address trace element deficiencies in the Ninety Mile Desert, and bouncing back from lucerne aphid which wiped out large areas of pasture in the 1980s.
Through hard work his vision was realised and Pitlochry is now a highly productive property.
It has been retained by his five daughters and their families in the 20 years since Mr Lowe’s death.
City Meat Company managing director Stephanie Mooney says it was a difficult decision for the Lowe family to part with Pitlochry Station but accepted it was time with “generational change”
“There are 11 grandchildren and none of them had the capacity or interest in looking after it, and we are getting on in years” she said.
“It was an offer we felt was attractive in the circumstances.”
Her sister and board member Jenny Dodd said they had been extremely fortunate to have had many loyal staff over the years, including Rex Anderson, and the Giles and Traeger families.
Mr Anderson celebrated 60 years involvement with Pitlochry last month,37 of these as manager and the last 23 years as a committed consultant.
“I am enormously proud of what has been achieved and the station’s enviable record for its annual production of quality stock,” he said.
For the past three years Pitlochry’s weaners have been sold on-farm to repeat buyers but prior to that they were highly sought after at the Naracoorte weaner sales.
Pinkerton Palm Hamlyn & Steen’s Scott Bittner, who has been their stock agent for more than a decade, says it has been a “privilege” to work with the Pitlochry team.
He has had considerable interest in the females from as far afield as Gippsland, Vic.
“The thing that sets the cattle apart is their doing ability, they will do in any environment and another attraction is their outstanding temperament,” he said.
The cattle will be drafted into lines of between 22 and 55 head.
The final chapter in the family’s association with Pitlochry will come in October when the 4000 adult Merino ewes and 1500 hoggets are sold in another on-property sale, after shearing.
The heavy-cutting flock which averages about 20 microns are based on Flairdale, Callowie and Hamilton Run bloodlines.