South­ern Downs gra­ziers stay pos­i­tive de­spite dry

Warwick Daily News - South West Queensland Rural Weekly - - Front Page - So­phie Lester Dan Knowles

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.

PHOTO: KIRSTIN PAYNE

EYE ON THE SKY: South­ern Downs gra­ziers are keep­ing a pos­i­tive out­look as dry con­di­tions be­gin to bite.

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