Pig tales: surviving floods

Pig tales: surviving floods


Sally and Rob Wells, Radds Piggery, Mundubbera, standing with some of the 600 pigs that have been recovered. - Picture: SARAH COULTON.

Sally and Rob Wells, Radds Piggery, Mundubbera, standing with some of the 600 pigs that have been recovered. - Picture: SARAH COULTON.

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REMARKABLE stories of survival are emerging after Rob and Sally Wells lost 2000 pigs in floodwaters from their family operated Radds Piggery 11km north of Mundubbera.

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REMARKABLE stories of survival are emerging after Rob and Sally Wells lost 2000 pigs in floodwaters from their family operated Radds Piggery 11 kilometres north of Mundubbera.

One pig was found alive at Paradise Dam, estimated to be 50-60km downstream. Seven sows had farrowed along the river, and the sows and piglets have since been returned to the Wells property.

Mr Wells said before the floods hit they had 52 sows ready to farrow.

"After the floodwaters had receded, we only found one dead sow in the piggery, and two dry sows dead in crates. Somehow the rest managed to get out," Mr Wells said.

"We've found about 20 dead pigs around the shed, but so far we've recovered 600 live pigs. 18 are sows, and we now have eight here with piglets.

"One of my sons retrieved 20 live pigs stuck in trees along the river around our place in a boat," Mr Wells said.

Mr Wells said they were still finding live pigs around the place on Tuesday.

The Wells had 200 breeders, and turned off 5000 pigs annually. They used all their own breeding stock, and everything was artificially inseminated.

Mr Wells said any piggery is a high input business, but he always chose to shop locally not only for his piggery, but for his citrus and lucerne operations as well.

"We have about 60 percent of our citrus crop left, and the lucerne has all sorts of rubbish in it," Mr Wells said.

"The main thing is to fix the house first so we can return, and then focus on the animals. The citrus and lucerne will come last.

"I'll look at selling my cattle soon, so I don't have to worry about the fences. They can wait."

The floodwaters went a foot higher this time than the record 1942 floods.

The piggery had water inside up to the ceiling, causing a large amount of electrical damage in fans, motors, and self feeders. The Wells also lost about $5000 worth of prime hay, and 400 round bales.

"We won't have power for another six to seven days, and we can't do a great deal without it. We don't even have any river pumps," he said.

"The big issue for us now is we were a MD (minimal disease) piggery. It's a big decision now as to whether we start up again, but if we do we'll have to destock first. Then it'll be another 10-12 months before you return to income.

"The advantages of an MD piggery were huge to us. We didn't even have to use antibiotic because we'd kept disease out.

"To be MD, you can only buy stock from another MD piggery and there aren't many of them left.

"We're screwed so much by the supermarkets and the banks," Mr Wells said.

"We're not making enough money from our animals to pay the debts, and there's not enough to rebuild. That's the situation they've got us into.

"Luckily pig prices have been stable, and so far they haven't gone down since Christmas. But grains and additives are at a record high because of the drought in America and the high Australian dollar; that all makes it hard.

"For the grain grower, he's in the same boat as the rest of us. He needs the money as well, and half the time he comes out with nothing.

"Everything is a real mess," Mr Wells said.

The story Pig tales: surviving floods first appeared on Queensland Country Life.

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