AUSTRALIA’S largest landholder, S Kidman & Co, has given up its sublease of the famous Nappa Merrie Station in the Channel country of Queensland to private operator Morella Agriculture.

The 727,500 hectare finishing property for cattle is located in the Cooper Basin and is controlled by oil and gas company Santos through its livestock operation, Doce.

S Kidman & Co had used the property for eight years, following a stint by the Stanbroke Pastoral Co, but due to changing dynamics of the live-export markets, the cattle producer no longer needed the extra capacity.

A tender for the sublease, run by Ray White Rural, has been completed with the Coulton family’s Morella Agriculture, beating several contenders. The deal, which is still being finalised, is expected to be worth more than $3 million over the next five years.

Morella Agriculture has extensive landholdings around Goondiwindi growing cotton and grain and raising Angus cattle.

“The synergies of Nappa Merrie Station work in perfectly with what we are doing,” Morella Agriculture’s Kim Coulton said.

“We think it is a big honour to take this and we are thankful to Santos and Ray White’s Bruce Douglas.”

Mrs Coulton said the position of Nappa Merrie was ideally located, with options to send cattle north for live export or east for processing. She said they would look to buy young cattle following the destocking of the property by S Kidman & Co.

With a huge reduction in Australia’s cattle herd following record exports in the past year, prices are on an upward trajectory, giving graziers who have managed their debt well a significant opportunity to expand.

S Kidman & Co, which has pastoral leases covering more than 100,000 square kilometres across Australia, estimates Nappa Merrie’s cattle carrying capacity at about 11,000 head.

The company’s managing director, Greg Campbell, said the station had provided a value-added option through the turbulence of the live-export trade.

“Over the past 18 months the live-export trade has firmly re-established at good prices,” Mr Campbell said.

“Kidman now have much improved market outlets in the north and no longer require the extra Channel country fattening capacity offered through Nappa Merrie.”

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