Record sheep numbers head east

Record sheep numbers head east

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Record numbers of sheep have been transported from WA to the Eastern States between January and May 2020.

Record numbers of sheep have been transported from WA to the Eastern States between January and May 2020.

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Demand has also kept transporters busy - welcome relief for some after live export transporting was reduced.

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SHEEP transfers to the Eastern States are likely to pass the previous record level of 1.02 million head of 2010 if demand doesn't fall off soon.

The latest interstate sheep transfer figures from the Ceduna checkpoint have pushed this year's total to more than 900,000 head - on track to surpass the record numbers with six months left to play out.

Thousands of sheep have been heading east since August 2019 - which saw a total of 409,112 lambs and adult sheep transported across the Nullabor - but the demand in the early part of 2020 has set records and continues to be a hot topic of conversation among sheep producers.

Transporters have also been kept busy, which has been a welcome relief for some after live export transporting was reduced.

In March 274,300 sheep were transferred east from Western Australia, followed by 182,400 in April.

In May a total of 208,000 sheep and lambs were transferred east which was made up of 122,000 adult sheep and 86,000 lambs.

On a calendar year basis interstate transfers have reached 904,000 head between January and May, the highest on record for this time of year.

Of that 52 per cent have been lambs and 48pc adult sheep.

WA Stud Merino Breeders Association president Scott Pickering, Cascade, said to see so many sheep heading east in one year was "not good for the State", but he "can't blame people for grabbing it (the price) while they can".

"It's not good for the State's sheep flock, obviously, but as Stud Merino president I'd like to see rams go with them," Mr Pickering said.

He said weather conditions in many areas were not making it easy to run livestock.

Mr Pickering said 2002 had been a dry year but 2019 had been his driest year on record and 2020 was even drier still so far.

With the last rain a week ago he received just 6 millimetres as well as 7-8 hours of 70 kilometre an hour winds.

"It's not a good situation to be in and water is getting critical," Mr Pickering said.

"A lot of places are carting water.

"We've been carting water and feeding sheep since December.

"We need a good rain and a good spring to set us up for summer."

Mr Pickering said while he hadn't sent any sheep to the Eastern States, he had sold off his 600 head commercial ewe flock in December to WAMMCO due to the dry season last year - which had reduced his flock this year by about 1000 head (if including reduced lambs).

He still has his stud flock which consists of about 4000 sheep and lambs and 1500 ewes and life is busy having to feed and water them continually.

Mr Pickering said he did a 270 kilometre round trip to get a truck load of barley on top of the demands of carting water.

A lot of other sheep producers in the water deficient areas were in the same boat and were culling numbers to just their core flocks.

"We need a good general rain, like much of the State," Mr Pickering said.

"It's going dry - 80pc of Esperance is dry."

While there had been rain along the coast the inland areas had missed out on much of the rain of the past few weeks.

He was hoping that the rain expected on Friday would help fill the dams and bring some relief to the region.

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