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Cattle in the Peak Downs District Cattle in the Peak Downs District

The beef industry plays a significant part in the economy of the Peak Downs district. Records from 1869, show that some cattle were then in the area but the predominant livestock was sheep.

There was a gradual changeover from sheep to cattle in the late 1940s owing to the prevalence of speargrass and wild dogs. Cattle from the early times to the 1950s were predominately Hereford and Shorthorn, with a few Angus and the crosses of these breeds.

The introduction of Brahman cattle in the late 1950s began a gradual change. By the 1960s and 1970s Brahman cross cattle became more prevalent across the Central Highlands due to their tick resistance and better foraging ability.

The majority of cattle are now Brahman crossed, which ensures hybrid vigour and higher weight gains. Braford, Droughtmaster, Brangus, Santa Gertrudis and Belmont Red feature in the area, along with the later Brahman crosses with European breeds such as Simmental, Romagnola, Gelbvieh, Charolais and Limousin.

The introduction of Buffel grass and leguminous stylo to the areas of lighter sandy soil plus blade ploughing to control sucker regrowth have increased the carrying capacity of cattle per grazing property, eg from 200 head to 1800 head on a well improved property. In latter years Leucaena, a fodder tree legume, has been added to the feed mix. This is planted in rows about six metres apart with grass varieties such as Panic and Buffel growing between the rows. The greater percentage of cattle in the district are bred and fattened on the lighter soils country, although most farmers on the cracking black clay soils run cattle on their poorer ground or stony country in conjunction with their agricultural enterprises. Feedlots also operate in the area.

Cattle from the district have consistently won Grand Champion ribbons and Weight for Age trophies at Agricultural Shows.