Cattle raising was Manilla's first industry. In the days of squatters and pastoral holdings - from 1830 to 1870 - six pastoral holdings swallowed up all the land that comprised Manilla district.
These stations were Dinawirindi [the first to set up in 1832], Attunga, Manilla, Cuerindi, Keypet and Mundowey. All were cattle stations, initially producing tallow for candles and soap. In time, the six large stations split up and other stations were formed.
Wild horses disputed the ranges with the cattle in the 1850s and 60s. There were thousands of brumbies which came down onto the lowlands at night, eating the pasture. To the east of the district, around Halls Creek, wild horses filled the timbered country, coming out at night, to drink up the station water supply and break down the fences. To the west of Manilla, Baldwin Mountain was the home of great numbers of them. The patience of the squatter was finally exhausted and he declared war on the 'brumbies'. As horse skins were worth six shillings a piece, destruction of horses by professional shooters became a lucrative pastime for gunmen.
An issue of the Government Gazette in 1865 mentions that Dinawirindi Station had a carrying capacity of 1,600 cattle; Manilla Station 1,150; Tulcumba 800; Longford 3,000 and Attunga Station, 1,250 head. Of those 6 early stations, 2 also ran sheep - Keypet had a grazing capacity of 10,000 and Mundowey 18,000.
Durham Shorthorn Herd
Durham Court would become famous for its Shorthorn cattle and the breeding of thoroughbred horses. North Ceurindi made its mark breeding purebred Devon Cattle. V. J. Byrnes, auctioneer, built up one of the largest one-man business concerns in Australia, from being a 'pocket book' agent in 1913, until in 1944 he was elected president of the Stock and Station Agents Association in New South Wales. When he built his own saleyards in 1935, by arrangement with the Manilla Municipal Council, the opening sale in January 1936 saw 21,000 cattle sold, in addition to stock trucked to Flemington, and other fat markets on rebate. Clients' use of the rolling stock resulted in £9,000 being paid to the Railways. It was not uncommon for 2,000 head of cattle to be yarded and sold under the hammer. Not surprisingly, there was a distinct advance in the quality of cattle breeding during the 1940s.
[to come...DEVON Cattle]
In April 1968, several hundred head of stock from drought-stricken southern New South Wales and Victoria were in the district on agistment. In 1970 twelve poll Hereford bulls from Wirindi averaged $500 per head and sold to one company, while two were sold to Bingara and two to a Leadville buyer for $600 each.
Entrepreneur Harry M. Miller purchased the Manilla property "Dunmore" in the early 1970s and with the purchase of pedigreed German Simmental heifers and bulls from New Zealand, made the Dunmore property the largest producer of that breed in Australia.
April 1973 saw the introduction of live weight cattle selling at the Manilla saleyards. The installation of giant metric scales, together with weighbridge, redesigned yards and the new system of pens, was estimated to have cost the company (V. J. Byrnes Pty Ltd.) $15 000.
The first bull sale held in Manilla saleyards in August 1975, saw eighty-eight head of poll Herefords and Hereford bulls from Wirindi sold for a gross total of $13,320.Between 1976 and 1978, cattle prices were very low, but began to build up in the latter half of 1978. The testing of cattle for brucellosis became compulsory during 1978, with the Dept of Agriculture setting up an office in Manilla.