Dry conditions challenge livestock producers

Dry conditions challenge livestock producers


Eneabba sheep producer and Pastoralists and Graziers Association livestock committee chairman Chris Patmore.

Eneabba sheep producer and Pastoralists and Graziers Association livestock committee chairman Chris Patmore.

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WESTERN Australian livestock producers, like those putting in crops, are waiting for the next rains, however they could be waiting for a while with little rain forecast by the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM).

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WESTERN Australian livestock producers, like those putting in crops, are waiting for the next rains, however they could be waiting for a while with little rain forecast by the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM).

The late break to the season has been difficult for pastoralists in the Pilbara, Kimberley, Murchison and Goldfields regions.

Last week the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) confirmed it was providing livestock management advice to a pastoral property in the southern rangelands to help manage dry seasonal conditions.

"DPIRD is not able to comment on operational matters, which may include ongoing investigations and animal welfare enquiries," a spokesperson said.

"DPIRD continues to work with industry and provide support to pastoralists impacted by ongoing dry seasonal conditions."

The property was identified in the media as Pinjin station, about 145 kilometres north east of Kalgoorlie, which is owned and run by an Aboriginal community.

It would be the third Aboriginal community-owned and operated station that has suffered cattle losses due to the seasonal conditions and/or management issues.

Noonkanbah and Yandeyarra stations were impacted in December/January with more than 1500 head of cattle reportedly euthanised or found dead from dehydration.

Due to the ongoing dry seasonal conditions the Kimberley Meat Company, owned by Jack Burton of Yeeda Pastoral Company, has reportedly been working at maximum capacity processing 1300 head of cattle a week.

The boost in production has occurred as station owners offload their stock to make way for grass growth for their remaining cattle later in the year if it continues to stay dry.

The Broome port has also recorded a 20 per cent rise in the number of cattle put through this year with 109,292 head exported through the port in the past 12 months.

From January to the end of April 26, 815 head departed the Broome port - an 844pc change compared to last year.

WAFarmers livestock committee chairman David Slade said there was serious water deficiencies around Lake Grace and Lake King and the eastern Wheatbelt.

"There is a glaring comparison with the Eastern States yet they seem to get all the handouts," Mr Slade said.

"Not that we want a handout - but if our cousins are getting it so should we.

"The point is WA is hurting just as bad as the Eastern States and drought assistance should be given out on an equal basis.

"They have had massive payouts and we haven't received anything - fair is fair."

Mr Slade said WA farmers were getting "a raw deal"

"We've been left to do it on our own," he said.

"We applaud WA farmers for their innovation practices, growing crops on very little rainfall year after year.

"We have seen a succession of bad years and should get help from the Federal government."

Federal Member for O'Connor Rick Wilson said the situation in his electorate was "extremely serious" and "very concerning".

He said he would be discussing the issue with his Eastern States' counterparts to see what could be done to take the pressure off due to the "late start to the season".

"Some farmers feel that it will be tight right the way through," Mr Wilson said.

Boyup Brook cattle producer Neil Derrick is running out of water with few options up his sleeve.

He said last year his 120 hectare property received 48 millimetres of rain in January, which was followed up by 16.5mm in April which helped him through.

But this year has been different.

Mr Derrick runs 97 Lincoln Red cattle on the property and has 40 heifers on agistment near the coast.

He has been looking for a property to lease if he doesn't get rain on his farm in the next few weeks.

Mr Derrick said it was expensive to buy in feed and with no rain for months, the grass is bare.

He has hired a digger and cleared some dams to capture as much water as possible when it does rain.

Since January he has only received a total of 69.5mm.

"We had no summer rain at all and with the frost we've been getting, nothing is moving," he said.

BoM is predicting a 30 per cent chance of above median rainfall in the area in June with a similar result in August.

"We are hoping to get some rain by June 13," Mr Derrick said.

"If not, we don't know what's going to happen."

Eneabba sheep producer and Pastoralists and Graziers Association livestock committee chairman Chris Patmore said his average break for the season was May 22 but conceded the forecast for the next few weeks was bleak.

"It doesn't look good at the moment, which is a bit of a worry but it's not panic stations yet," Mr Patmore said.

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