Holding out for more rain north of Longreach

15 Jan, 2016 01:00 AM
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The fence at the Webb family’s sheep and cattle operation “Weewondilla”, north of Longreach in Queensland, built to offset the damage being caused by kangaroos and to protect stock from dingoes.
Now that we have control of dingoes, sheep will be our primary focus
The fence at the Webb family’s sheep and cattle operation “Weewondilla”, north of Longreach in Queensland, built to offset the damage being caused by kangaroos and to protect stock from dingoes.

THE BEGINNINGS of drought recovery at the Webb family’s sheep and cattle operation north of Longreach, Queensland, is still very much dependent on follow-up January rain.

When that recovery does finally arrive, it will herald a shift into sheep being the main focus.

Between 15 and 44mm fell on the 35,000-hectare “Weewondilla” in the past fortnight. The property, which was 50 per cent beef supplying weaners and feedlot cattle, has been in drought since the start of 2013.

By the end of last year, 1500 of the Brahman-Angus cows had been sold, with only 200 heifers and 150 weaners remaining.

Boyd Webb, who with his wife Katie and parents Graham and Margie, runs the operation, said the short pick from the rain had already started to stress.

He said rain events of 50mm close together within the next couple of weeks would get them through with the reduced stock numbers they now have.

Three to four events of 75mm would mean pasture could regenerate and stocking rates could be increased.

“Weewondilla” is mostly Mitchell grass, with lighter country running Buffel and annual Flinders grass.

As cattle were sold off to protect the country, kangaroos began coming in.

So the Webbs invested in a 67 kilometre, 1.5-metre enclosure fence, which went up last year.

“Now that we have control of dingoes, sheep will be our primary focus when the drought breaks, with cattle supplementing them,” Mr Webb said.

A number of other producers in the region had also invested in similar fences and would do the same, he said.

“Drought is a part of living on the land - this one will end and another one will turn up at some time - we just need to be prepared before it gets here,” Mr Webb said.

FarmOnline
Shan Goodwin

Shan Goodwin

is the national beef writer for Fairfax Agricultural Media.

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