Should cows and calves walk less on stock routes?

Maranoa Regional Council comes under fire for stock route movement decision


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A recent move by the Maranoa Regional Council has left drovers frustrated.

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Should nursing cattle be allowed to walk less distances on stock routes?

Should nursing cattle be allowed to walk less distances on stock routes?

THE Maranoa Regional Council has come under fire by frustrated drovers for their tough stance on stock route travelling requirements. 

During a council meeting in May, a motion to allow nursing cattle permission to travel 5km instead of 10km each day on Maranoa stock routes was voted down (5-2).

Among the five councillors who voted against it was Rural Services Portfolio Chair Cr Wendy Newman, who said their 10km distance regulation was set in accordance with the Queensland Government’s Stock Route Management Act 2002.

Given the regulatory constraints, as well as council’s responsibility to other travelling stock, Cr Newman couldn’t support the motion

Of the 7798 cattle currently on the Maranoa stock route, 1093 of them are cows and calves, including a mob from south west Queensland.

Those drovers, who wished to remain anonymous, had been on the stock route since February, meaning many of the cattle were now calving. 

They allege they spoke to Maranoa Land Management Staff about concerns for their cattle’s welfare prior to commencing on the routes and were told they could travel at 5km distances with a vet certificate.

The south west Queensland drover said they had lost cows and calves during their lengthy movements.

The south west Queensland drover said they had lost cows and calves during their lengthy movements.

But an increase in stock, particularly from NSW, on the routes saw their permit issued at 10km. Alternatively, they also weren’t permitted access to reserves to rest their cattle. 

The drover said they had been treated like criminals and she invited those making the decisions to spend some time on the road with them.

“Our family has had three days off (while friends continued to move the cattle) since the beginning of the trip, and we all feel weary, so I can’t begin to imagine how the stock feel,” she said.

“Instead of spending time treating us like criminals, the Land Management Team should be putting more focus on the management of the routes, which are becoming inundated with the spread of noxious weeds such as Mother of Millions, and have very few stock waters operational.  

A herd of females on the stock route near Injune.

A herd of females on the stock route near Injune.

“Perhaps those employed to make these decisions and to manage these routes should all spend a few months minimum droving, so that they have a better understanding of the big picture? It is hard to properly manage something in which you have neither passion nor experience.”

While the 10km is outlined in the stock route management act, many councils have their own regulations.

The Blackall/Tambo Regional Council stipulates that the stock routes are not agistment and moving stock must be fit to travel the 10kms each day.

There are currently 7798 cattle on Maranoa stock routes.

There are currently 7798 cattle on Maranoa stock routes.

Alternatively, the Barcaldine Regional Council offer a slow travel permit of 5km per day with a vet certificate. 

In the Balonne Shire, the length of travel is dependent on the condition of the cattle.

“Realistically, calving cattle should not be on a stock route, but if this cannot be avoided council would consider a permit for 5km travel per day,” a council spokesperson said.

“Ideally these cattle should be trucked.” 

Wallumbilla drover Barry Read was fortunate to get a 5km daily distance permit for part of his journey through the Maranoa stock routes with cows and calves from NSW.

He said walking long distances with nursing cattle often resulted in missing mothers and loss of calves. 

“Five kilometres a day is nearly too much,” he said.

“Calves are born today, and walk tomorrow.” 

Former drover and Mitchell man Tony Purcell said the Maranoa Regional Council needed to be more helpful to drovers who were already facing difficult times.

Permits and water facilities needed to be addressed, he said. 

“Unfortunately they are targeting people that are doing a pretty tough job,” he said.

“In most cases they are tired, hungry, a long way from home and not having a joyous time.” 

The story Should cows and calves walk less on stock routes? first appeared on Queensland Country Life.

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