Western Queensland’s limited breeding herd, slim as it is, is likely to decrease even more in numbers following the weekend’s much-anticipated rainfall event that largely failed to deliver.
Agents at Blackall and Longreach said mustering and drafting was underway as producers reassessed their reserves, noting especially the lack of agistment options on the table.
While 100mm was recorded in places, the very scattered nature of the falls were the most disappointing element, according to Ray White Longreach principal, Bill Seeney.
“This meant a lot to people – it wasn’t the last roll of the dice but it got a lot of people’s hopes up, because it was predicted right up until it happened,” he said. “I think people thought it was going to be a lot more than just storms.”
Elders Blackall manager, Des Cuffe, shared the disappointment after hearing 40mm fall on his roof last Friday.
“I put seven calls in the next morning then put the phone down,” he said. “The best of it was an inch east of town but most had no more than 7mm.”
Mustering plans have been brought forward this week as strategic sales are factored in.
“People will just keep selling back until there’s nothing left to sell,” Bill said. “These are the core breeders that are left, and a small percentage of people who lightly restocked with the bit of winter rain a couple of years ago, but it’s getting right down to the nuts and bolts of what they’ve got left now.”
A strong store market may be a saving grace for many.
Des said producers were “looking at what they could tip out”, which was not a lot, or looking at agistment alternatives.
“Prior to the rain, there wasn’t a lot of agistment about but there may be some more out there now,” he said.
He hoped those considering that option were going into it with a plan, considering the long year ahead and the unknown prospect of rain at the end.
Bill said agistment was a daily request but there was “absolutely zero” available.
“With the good rain that came through some of the southern country, more may become available,” he said, cautioning that a number of property owners had restocking as a priority.
The patchy nature of the weekend event saw rainfall totals vary wildly, even across properties.
Some of the best falls were east of a line stretching from Moree, north to about Charters Towers with some good falls in the Capricorn region, Darling Downs and Burnett.
Andrew Cowper, at Merino Downs north of Aramac, had 12.5mm on Friday and 4mm on Saturday and was still able to truck three decks of second cross cows to Roma for sale this week.
Most landholders say the key will now be follow-up.