Southern Downs graziers stay positive despite dry
SOUTHERN Downs graziers may have missed out on the worst of tough spring conditions that have underpinned a significant slump in Australian cattle markets.
Despite minimal rainfall this month, Top X Warwick agent George McVeigh said he had seen little de-stocking in the markets so far.
With more hay and cereals available for feed on the Southern Downs, Mr McVeigh said local graziers were yet to be hard hit by the dry conditions.
“The quality of cattle have been pretty good, and that will be the first thing to go if it’s dry for much longer,” he said.
“We’ve seen it turn down the prices but it’s still pretty good compared to years ago.
“We’re used to dry weather; we have more dry times than wet times and farmers are prepared, and have become more advanced.
“With irrigation, often we can produce better feed than we did years ago; there are a lot of them around growing oats.”
Maryvale cattle breeder Chris Johnston said he was fortunate that rainfall went further for producers near Cunningham’s Gap.
“We were lucky we went into winter with such a good season and got halfway through winter with heaps of good feed,” Mr Johnston said.
“If you talk to any of the old fellas they’ll tell you September is the worst month of the year and it’s certainly living up to that this year.
“I’ve not sold personally yet and down our road in North Branch Valley I don’t know anyone who has had to yet, but if we went another month without rain we might need to start.”
Mr Johnston said he would revalue his weaner calves in a month, but in any case, hoped rain would come soon.
“Generally, the closer you are to the range the more likely you are to get rain,” he said.
“We’ve got green shoots and even a couple of inches will make a big difference to us here. Bring on the rain.”
Amiens producer and Stanthorpe Agricultural Society president Brett Boatfield said despite going into a green winter, the Granite Belt had little rainfall since May.
He said while many graziers were able to maintain the condition of their cattle, it was more expensive to do so.
“We normally don’t have cattle on feed at this time of the year, but I’ve got them on hay and a mineral lick,” he said.
“I don’t have too many head as I’m just a small operator but I’m fortunate I sold off my calves in June so I don’t have any big calves on the cow.
“My calves were the right weight and the prices were good at the time, and I’m lucky I did because there are a lot of people offloading right now.”
Mr Boatfield said it was frustrating that despite the occasional storm cell passing over, the rain rarely fell on the Granite Belt.
“We call Liston God’s country because it’s always green but even it’s dry at the moment,” he said.
Further west however, producers are faring far worse, with many graziers having already destocked.
AgForce cattle president Bim Struss said if the rain didn’t come soon, some graziers would be faced with no option but to shoot their cattle as the feed ran out and the animals grew too weak to be moved to market.
EYE ON THE SKY: Southern Downs graziers are keeping a positive outlook as dry conditions begin to bite.