BEAUTIFUL steady soaking rain is how Tim Ludgate described the 86 millimetres he received at his Isisford property up until mid-afternoon Monday with more still likely to follow.
Tim said it started raining on Sunday afternoon and the system was very slow moving.
Tom Brodie at Winton was similarly delighted with the 70mm he tipped out of the gauge at his place on Monday morning.
Tom said closer to town it was more like 90mm while 40-50km west of town there were reports of over 100mm.
McKinlay had 40mm, around Boulia there were reports of 70-85mm but around Jundah and Windorah it seemed patchy. However Hayfield, 40km to the west of Jundah reported over 100mm with it still raining on Monday morning.
Tom thought the season now looked set for green feed into June and July with the warmer autumn months that seem to be the pattern compared to cooler autumns and winters of 10 years ago.
To top it off, all it would take to make it a great winter herbage season would be another inch of rain in a month or so.
As of Monday the system hadn't quite delivered for the Blackall area with many properties there at the lower end with registrations of 30-50mm. But Tim said the system was moving down and to the east and it seemed likely a wide area would be in line to share the better totals.
He was also pleased to see that places to the west of Barcaldine that had been really dry were getting some good falls. A lot of people there had missed out altogether on a summer season.
Some of those were starting to sell down before the rain and this reprieve should now allow them to hold what stock they still have or at least give them better control over their marketing options.
With good pasture response expected across a wide area that has been running at 60-70 per cent or a lot less in places, the rain should bring a few extra buyers into the market.
As Tom explained, while the Flinders, Norman and Gilbert river catchment areas in the lower Peninsular and Gulf region north of the Townsville/Mt Isa line is currently in the midst of a very dry season, it hasn't experienced the extended droughts that have persisted south of the line.
Consequently it is thought there will be cattle there to come out and in the past month his agency business has been selling quite a few from north of Hughenden, principally cows and calves and weaner steers.
An extended run a month ago through Richmond, Croydon, Georgetown, The Lynd and Hughenden revealed just how light-on for feed a lot of that country has become.
The expected boost to buying interest from south of the line where the rain has fallen would therefore seem to be very timely for the northerners as it is usually after Easter when they start their first round musters and get their selling programs properly under way.
Meanwhile what the weather change means for supply of slaughter cattle to central and south east Queensland meatworks will probably take a week or so to emerge.
In the middle of this month all of the majors reported that they had their positions covered out to early May and on the back of that some stopped quoting rate and took only space bookings.
But if this rain goes down into southern Queensland and New South Wales as it seems expected to do and another change develops next week, there could at least be a short-term pinch point coming up if not a lengthier tightening in supply of slaughter stock.
Now that feed is assured it would not surprise if cattle earmarked to go to the works are held back to put on more weight.
After this week's Anzac Day holiday and next week's Labour Day holiday in Qld, the short weeks will be finished for some months and the way clear for production to ramp up as the COVID absenteeism problem abates, provided the cattle are there.
It is that final point that is the key and the most difficult to get a true handle on.
Last time there was a three-year La Nina-led rebuild phase (2010-2012), herd numbers escalated quickly to almost 30 million head.
But this time there are some important differences.
Firstly the lead-up in 2008 and 2009 was in no way comparable to the devastating drought years of 2018 and 2019. In consequence this latest rebuild is starting from a much lower base.
Secondly the price surge back then was very modest compared to the stratospherically high prices now.
As Tom pointed out these high prices are allowing people to make as much money running their country at 60pc as they would when prices were lower and country run at 100pc.
Accordingly there would seem less urgency this time around to increase numbers.
Late mail: At time of filing this story Tim has advised that rainfall has increased to 280mm up towards Barcaldine and over 200mm elsewhere in the Blackall district.
WITH rain still falling in the west, a few holes have started to appear in works kill bookings but generally they remain well covered out to the third week of May.
Rates appear unchanged so far this week with 4-tooth ox quoted by one of the majors at 780c/kg and heavy cow at 720 in south east Qld.
COVID has finally started to ease enabling throughput at some locations to double the numbers they were reduced to only a fortnight ago.
Overseas, COVID lockdowns in China have severely impacted consumer demand.
Steiner reports the logjam of ships waiting outside Chinese ports has doubled compared to two months ago. As a result South American beef suppliers are expected to become more aggressive in offering product to the United States.
Indicator Aust/NZ 90CL was quoted 6c down at US302c/lb FOB East Coast.
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