Cattle station

“We’ll take you fishing, promise!”

When family and friends come to visit usually at some stage they in tend to go fishing,  we have a number of natural water holes so we can generally catch something. (I’ve no idea what breeds, they are fish that’s about all I know).

Mind you there are also crocodiles and other bitey things in the waterholes so fishing is not my favourite thing. I prefer to stand back and admire the scenery.

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Like most people who are on farms or pastoral stations the last thing we really have time for in the dry season particularly when mustering, is fishing. So unsuspecting family and friends tend to get roped into free labour of mustering and general property work before the fishing trip occurs, if it occurs at all.

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Anyway visitors usually bring their paraphernalia of fishing gear and ‘stuff’ because of course we promise them if they come to visit then we’ll take them fishing.

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This time we did take them fishing, of a very different type! The worst type of all, fishing gear out of a bore hole.

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We’re heavily reliant on bore water for our stock and ourselves, so for water we pump from drilled bore holes. While we do live in the semi tropics and have waterholes and plentiful natural water in the wet, bores are absolutely imperative in the dry season. They allow a clean available water source for cattle and are vitally necessary for their optimum long term health and survival. We also use the water troughs and tanks in the dry to enable mineral supplementation. That is a liquid we place in drums with dispensers and the animals obtain the supplement through simply drinking from their troughs.

This is a blog I wrote a while back for Central Station in regards to Drilling for water.

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We went to check a bore one day in late September and it wasn’t pumping. It wasn’t a critical period because the new steel tank we had there to hold water was full and we knew this allowed us at-least 1-2 days grace of fixing the bore and getting it pumping before the cattle would drain the storage and be thirsty. All the same it was important we repair the bore as soon as possible. So we went home and collected the gear we needed to ‘pull’ the bore which is a number of cables, clamps and winches. We set the gear up and got to work.

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We’d had a very good run out of this bore’s gear and knew it was a number of years old, To have not corroded or broken down before this point in time was unusual as water electrolysis corrosion and general wear and tear tends to mean most bore equipment needs some form of maintenance or replacement every few years.

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To understand how bore gear works it is important to envisage what is happening below the ground in regards to bore water. A bore is literally a very deep narrow hole of only 150mm diameter drilled into water bearing rock layers. There the ground water can be sourced from aquifers. For some areas this may mean you have to dig hundreds of metres, in others it may be very shallow. Here we tend to need to drill between 60-130m to hit good supply of water, and then the water is sub artesian. It actually rises closer to ground level above the point it enters the bore hole through slots in the casing. You place a pump down the hole and access the water.
For this particular bore we knew we had a bore that was a total depth of 61m, (that is  reasonably shallow  in the NT). It had pumping gear down to a depth of 42m and we knew the standing water level (SWL) was about 16m.

#2 bore 003_edited-1
A diagram showing the bore hole attributes below the soil surface.

The pumping gear that had failed was the mono gear down the hole. It is a system of 2” column that screws together and is hung down the hole. Inside the casing is rod that runs the length of the column and is joined at the very base to a screw pump that actually draws and lifts the water.

This screw that lifts the water works on the Archimedes screw principle

#2 bore 001_edited-1

Principals of the mono rod and column system used to lift water from a bore.

A motor is at the top of the bore and through a belt system and pulleys spin the internal rods of the mono very fast. The outside column stays stationary. The spin is transferred to the bottom of the rods to the screw pump which is inside a very tight rubber sleeve. As this spins, it sucks in water and forces it up the inside of the column and the flow moves to the ground surface to be used. The mono column and rods are in sections of 3m (10’) and each section has a joiner. On the column these are called collars on the rod they are thimbles.

When ‘pulling’ a bore we use pulley’s, clamps and very specific actions and processes to grab the column and lift it in sections to then hold under the collars and thimbles as we undo and remove lengths. Holding and removing a section at a time we unscrew and repeat the process until we have all the mono gear out of the hole. As you can only pull out 3m (10’) at a time it is a process that must be done very carefully and with considerable care.

We had 42m of gear to lift so that’s about 14 lifts and removals to do. I have no idea what column weighs but guessing 14 lengths of 3m column and rods would be about 1 tonne. Again not a great deal of gear or weight considering some bores can be extremely deep. It can be dangerous but everyone is particularly careful with bore work so things are checked and double checked. My husband and I have a system and we’re very particular about who does what, so it is a very measured process. The concern is to not have any items loose, everything is done slow and steady because if you drop the gear it will go sailing to the bottom of the hole and then you have all sorts of problems.

Prior to beginning to lift the mono we’d diagnosed what we thought was the problem, a broken rod. Not a big deal as we could clamp, hold and lift the column which would lift the rods and allow us to replace them. At the base of the column is a foot valve that should stop any rods slipping through the base of the pump but as a precaution we also have a rod clamp at the top that held the rods in-case that foot value has corroded away. Just because you have hold of the column doesn’t always mean you have hold of the internal rods if that base foot valve or pump has disconnected for some reason. We knew the rods were broken so we knew we didn’t have a clear connection of the rods all the way to the foot valve. We hoped the breaking of the internal rod had not caused so much damage to the external column that it had caused the pipe to completely break away as tends to happen if the internal rod has flogged around inside an already weakened pipe and cause a whipping action, further increasing damage to spilts or holes in the steel pipe walls.

We lifted a couple of lengths, no problem, It felt suitably heavy and we hoped if there was damage to the column they were only pitted holes and not an entire disconnect. Then quiet literally shit happened! Where the column had worn it had caused a tear rusthole to occur in the casing partially around it, when we had moved the column, we had aggrevated it further and the column itself had completely gave way because the thing actually holding it was the rod and its tight fit inside the lower sections of the column and further into the screw pump, with the weight and nothing to hold it up it fell to the bottom of the hole. All we had was what we had clamped at the top of the hole.

Sometimes things occur that when they happen, you can just see the dollar signs, My husband and I knew exactly what had happened when we felt and seen the cable jump, We went from having maybe 700kg of weight to now lucky to have 200kg We’d still had hold of at-least one length of column and rods but we knew we had just heard a gut wrenching sound of a lot of rod and column go sailing to the bottom of the hole. To say we felt sick instantaneously was an understatement. Getting dropped gear out of a hole is no easy feat and usually means the hole is stuffed. Not only would we have to drill a new hole at who knows what expense, it would have been near impossible to get a driller in any short time frame. We had 500 head of cattle needing critical water in less than 2 days and while we could move them to other bores, it wasn’t a good time to be over stocking other waters at the end of the dry. Plus we were still mustering, plus it was drying off, plus to drill a new bore meant we couldn’t do the other improvements we had planned, plus drillers are notoriously difficult to get, often booked out 12 months ahead, plus, plus, plus. All of this and more goes through your head in about 2 seconds, then replays into all the worst scenerios,none good and none cheap! My hubbie just looked up at me and I looked at him and said, shit bugger bum! (Actually I can’t write what we really said or thought, there just aren’t bad enough words).

Our son and family were off-siding for us and actually had no idea what had just happened. They just knew by our expression that something had just gone very, very wrong. We’d been grilling them all morning about being careful near the bore hole not to let spanners and tools sit too close. Our explanation to them now was “we have to go fishing”, it wasn’t exactly conveyed enthusiastically.

As it turned out we actually had hold of still a fair few lengths of column so in some ways that was relief, it meant less weight to lift if we managed to get what was lost. What was now at the bottom of the hole was about 20m of column that is 50mm (2”)in diameter and 30m rod that was 16mm (5/8”). What we needed to do was put a tool down to catch and pull it out. It sounds simple but it’s not.
We had to get this stuff out, but the top of the rods were now 21m from the surface and at-least 6m below water, luckily for us this is not a very long way in ‘bore language’, actually it’s pretty shallow, but it was still very awkward and did mean that any gear lost in the hole would make it very difficult to place another pump due to lack of space. The gear had to come out.
If you were absolutely desperate you can leave dropped gear in holes, if the depth and water levels are Ok, but it’s not a good idea and restricts the use of the bore hole significantly as it usually makes it difficult to pump from. Sometimes gear can fall down a hole but not always to the bottom, if its lodged partway it can stuff the whole thing.

Rob drew on some old experience, we had ‘fished before’. It is a small cars spring welded to the inside of a heavy piece of column, in the hope that what we can do is send the tool down the hole and fluke it sliding over the rod, far enough that the spring would catch under a thimble. It would hold it strong enough to lift everything back up and remove all the gear.

#2 bore 002_edited-1

In theory the fishing tool will slide over the rod and column to allow the spring to jamb up under neath the thimble.

So back home we go to make the fishing tool. Back out to the bore we go to start fishing. It’s a simple idea but involves reconfiguration of the entire cable system and a lot of hands on touch and feel of the cable gently lifting the weight and trying to catch the rod. Remember we can’t see bugger all down the hole, it’s all by touch and the mind’s eye.
With the rod sticking so far out of the column it may have actually been leaning up against the wall of the bore. We needed to be careful not to the jam the ‘fishing tool’ down and actually push the rod into the wall of the PVC casing, that would have made it impossible to get it out.

So it’s not just a case of sending a heavy piece of metal down at a rate of knots and hoping it will grab, if we bent the top of the rods even if we did grab them it may mean we then have the rods jam into the bore casing and then we’d have the rods, column and fishing tool jammed down the hole with the cable. If we caught the bore hole wall casing there is the chance you can move it and then damage it thus again wrecking the bore as the casing is what holds the walls of the bore in place and breaking it can cause soil and rock to eventually cave the bore damaging the integrity of the whole thing.

We spent a full day trying to catch that gear with no luck, we decided that the cable we had wasn’t flexible enough so we sent an SOS to our neighbours to beg, borrow and plead if they may have any suitable cable. Luckily they did and so we drove over to borrow it, discussed all sorts of methods of bore recovery war stories, came home, set up and tried again.

By this time we did have thirsty cattle, thirsty cattle get destructive. It’s not a good thing. A thirsty animal will persist at any little point of moisture through licking or simply brute strength to get to what they think will be a water supply.
We tried again for another half day and just couldn’t get a grab to hold, we thought we had it but it slipped and went to the bottom again. By this time we were getting very worried. We had an audience of cattle who were simply watching and waiting and wondering what the heck was taking us so long.

We needed to move these cattle so we did, not an easy task as the other bores were not their normal bores and cattle being creatures of habit will return to the ‘home bore’ almost immediately.

The fishing tool was modified and refined and again we went fishing, we got it again, or I should say Rob caught it again and it was with very careful and extreme trepidation we lifted it out. It was such a relief to see rods emerge from that bore hole, even better when we had clamps locked on. Quick smart we pulled that mono gear out and we replaced the heavy stuff with new solar pump. Nice light poly pipe with a steel safety cable. If needed Rob, our son and I often pull these up and down by hand.

Most of the cattle we had walked away from the bore came back immediately when there was water available. We spent nearly 4 days fishing for that gear, through ingenuity and plain stubbornness my husband got it out. We were thanking our lucky stars that day. There are some horrid stories of gear dropped down bores and expensive redrills, we hoped we weren’t to add to them.

That fishing trip, we really did take the family fishing later, to be honest we needed an R&R day following the stress of that bore.

22.12.12 063

Fishes. They tasted good.

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Categories: Animal Welfare, Beef Industry, bores, Cattle station, Cattle station operations, Property operations, Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

Wild Dog management on Pastoral Land #3

Wild Dog management on Pastoral Land #1

Wild Dog management on Pastoral Land #2

What is 1080
1080 is a colourless, tasteless, odourless chemical that is naturally occurring in some Australian native plants. Its chemical name is sodium fluoroacetate or sodium monfluroacetate and is manufactured as a pesticide. It is a schedule 7 poison under the Poisons and Dangerous Drugs Act; this means its use is very restricted and highly regulated. It is also extremely potent. The reason it is a preferred chemical of use is because it is easily deactivated and breaks down with water, it will not accumulate as a toxic residue in the soil.
Ingestion of 1080 interferes with the animal’s ability to produce energy from its cells that enable basic body function and survival. 1080 disrupts the energy or electrical impulses and communication of the cells in the body causing the central nervous system to collapse and cardiac arrest to occur leading to death.

A medium weight dog of 14.5kg requires ingestion of 1.6mg of 1080 to be lethal, a pig 56.1mg and an 80kg person 160mg.

12.04.13 009_edited-2Picture 1. These are 1080 dry baits, one of these baits is enough to kill an adult dog. The layer of baits is broken up into individual blocks before dispersal around the property.

28.10.15 018_edited-1Picture 2. Some raw meat lumps that are ready to be injected with liquid 1080. Only 0.2ml is injected into each bait but that is enough to kill a dog.

Birds will pick up some of these baits but generally have a much higher tolerance to 1080 and therefore it doesn’t usually kill them unless they manage to find lots of baits and consume all of them which is highly unlikely. Pigs will also eat the baits and again need a much larger dose to be killed. Domestic dogs will eat the baits and it will kill them.
There is no current effective antidote for 1080 though I do believe there is one being developed called Blue Heeler.

We do not have available to us any other effective largescale management tools to control wild dogs. In our environment their tracks are seen but they rarely make appearances. Shooting is not always a practical or efficient method of control.

In years gone past there was a dog bounty in which people who did shoot or trapped dogs, skun and produced the ears, scalp and back hair as evidence of killing to receive a reward. I believe parts of QLD still pay a dog bounty but I haven’t been able to find how much the NT used to do this. My father in law tells me in his day (in the NT) it was enough to earn a reasonable income and supplement the wages they used to receive. Recently Victoria was offering $100 a scalp.
The National Wild dog action plan
Throughout Australia wild dogs are now recognised as having significant social and financial impact on many aspects of agriculture, native fauna and ecology. Not only in their direct impact on livestock through killing and maiming but they have been attributed with spreading a hydatidosis worm and infecting domestic dogs with parvo virus.

In some parts of Australia native animal populations of small ground animals and birds is returning with the control and implementation of wild dog programs Animals return to NW NSW following wild dog culling.
75% of landholders in the NT rate the wild dog problem on their property as severe or extremely severe. Not only due to the financial costs but also the emotional toll that causes distress, anger and a lot of work in caring for injured animals.

Some sheep producers are recognised as suffering a condition similar to post traumatic stress, a condition called hyper vigilance. It is a condition that is beyond simply being aware of a problem or looking for its occurrence, it is an exaggerated emotional intensity in attempting to detect threats, accompanied by very high levels of anxiety that causes exhaustion. Combined with the other pressures producers face of operating their properties, hypervigilance is not a state you can maintain for a long time without health repercussions.
Across every state and Territory in Australia a co-ordinated implementation program was initiated and continues to counter wild dog problems across Australia. In the NT this has been significant for producers like myself that enables controlled baiting programs to occur on our properties.

For the first time in a long time we feel that we are actually getting wild dog numbers under control through use of 1080 baiting programs targeting wild dogs.

The process of 1080 baiting
To seek approval to use 1080 for a wild dog control program I am required to complete
1. Chemical certificate application course and
2. Complete a 1080 training program through an accredited training provider
Only after I have received both of these credentials, which require renewal and retraining every 5 years, can i then apply on behalf of the property each year for;
1. an authorisation to use 1080
2. an approval to purchase 1080 and
3. a permit to take protected wildlife for pest animal control.
This requires a lengthy documented application that details where I will lay the baits according to our property lay out, what signs I will use to warn people of baiting, who will do the baiting and at what time periods.

12.04.13 012_edited-2Picture 3. Example of the 1080 wild dog control baiting notifications.Anywhere that you see a sign of this description or similar exercise caution if you have your own animals with you. There is no antidote for 1080 commercially available yet! While rain is thought to break down bait formulations very quickly there may be a possibility a bait has been laid that is protected from moisture and is still potent and potentially lethal to your animal after rain periods.

If you suspect your pet dog has taken a bait, they may show symptoms of extreme eye dilation, dis-orientation and rapid breathing. Restrain them and cover their eyes to reduce the light awareness with tape and a cloth if needed. You will need to get them to a vet for immediate attention.

This is a 1st_aid_book that has some very helpful information and may be useful for those who have domestic dogs and suspect their animal has picked up a bait. It also has helpful information to increase awareness and prevention of domestic dog accidental baiting.
In regards to a 1080 wild dog program, control and documentation is very strict in that I need to keep records of all aspects of our actions in regards to the baiting program conducted, including notification to neighbours of our baiting and recording of circumstances regarding the baiting process. Including accountability to every single bait used.
If government departments are not satisfied with past record keeping or procedures then they have the right and ability to refuse your future applications.
Only when we receive specific authorisation to conduct a baiting programs are we allowed to then ask agents to purchase dry baits on our behalf or hire a contractor to inject wet baits.

If I am conducting a wet bait program then the person we contract to inject the baits has very specific and legally binding requirements of their actions of injecting meat for us. In this process we will kill a bull or other animal  and  cut several hundred pieces of meat into sections about the size of your fist, approximately 400-500g.

If I purchase dry baits then I must present my original documentation of the permits to the seller and transport those baits in a locked storage container.

Dry baits have a shelf life where as wet baits are used immediately. Neither is necessarily more potent but the attractant of using a a wet bait is often more effective in attracting dogs to take the baits.

We rarely see a wild dog, dead or alive and can only judge the success our baiting programs on the damage as evidenced on our cattle. Previous years we have been conducting dry baiting programs, earlier this year we conducted wet bait and feel confident it was far more effective than the previous dry baits.
We have determined the beneficial use of the wet bait program by visual inspection of our calves and see that they don’t have marks on their ears and bodies, this year has seen a marked decrease in damage to calves seen around the property.
Wild dog control is absolutely essential for the long term health and welfare of our cattle and our own businesses financial future. It is absolutely imperative that wild dog control programs are conducted consistently and effectively at a local, state and national level.

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Picture – Photo November 2015. Cows and their new drop of calves resting at a trough late in the dry season. This period is our highest calf drop time and also when dog attacks are their most severe.We try to look at all calves on each bore run and see if they have dog damage to their bodies to determine the effectiveness of our wild dog control programs.

Categories: 1080 baiting, Animal Welfare, Cattle station | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Wild dog management on Pastoral Land #2.

Wild dog management on pastoral land #1

History of dogs in Australia
The Dingo (Canin lupus dingo) derived from wolves in eastern Asia and migrated to Australia approximately 4,500-5,000 years ago. They were possibly assisted in their migration throughout Australia by use as food and companionship by aboriginal people. Feral domestic dogs (Canin lupus familiaris) came to Australia with European settlement; the two Canin species can interbreed and are known as hybrids and are present across all of Australia.

Wild dogs distribution is across all of Australia.

2012 distribution_edited-1Source – AWI ABARES Wild dog management in Australia – document is available for download in the sources at the end of this blog.

night shots #1_edited-1Picture 1. Source – Conservation and Pest Management. A night vision camera captures this image of 5 dogs feeding on a pig carcase purposely established to investigate dog activity in the area.

With innate predator behaviour the dingo and wild dog opportunistically hunt a variety of mammals, native and introduced, birds and reptiles. They will scavenge carrion including rubbish as well as eat plants, fruit, vegetables and eggs.
Each dog requires the equivalent about one fifth (20%) in food and 12% water relative to their own body weight to survive.

They can survive on moisture they obtain from blood and fluids found in prey but generally require a permanent water source for long term survival.
Wild dogs are top order predators, meaning they have few natural enemies, except people. Most people regard them as pests, yet wild dogs may enable important ecological balance by preying on some other species, some of those  being introduced pests themselves, such as rabbits.
The pure Dingo is an annual breeder with mating occurring usually April –May with generally a small litter of 2-3 pups following a gestation of about 2 months. Hybrids or wild dogs tend to breed larger litters, often up to 6-8 pups and can breed sometimes twice per year. The dispersal and increase of hybrid animals has been assisted by development of water points in rural and urban environments and feeding capabilities has been increased due to livestock production across many areas. Domestic dog releases and abandonments including interbreeding from all over Australia has exasperated the problem with hybrid dog numbers exploding in recent years.
A dog’s ability to traverse area depends largely on their environment and conditions, but some have been tracked over thousands of kilometres in only short periods across several months. Pure dingo’s exhibit strong territorial pack behaviours, Hybrids often do not and will wander over large distances thus increasing their chances of food source acquisitions and breeding encounters.

Producers such as myself want to minimise wild dog populations to predominantly protect our cattle but there is the possibility that in killing pure Dingo populations we are upsetting the pack order hierarchy of the pure dingo population. By trying to control wild dog numbers we may actually be causing increased attacks on our livestock by pure dingo populations as the younger generations have not learnt the abilities of their leaders and will attack livestock that are easier and more plentiful than native wildlife to survive. If we remove all dogs from one area we may in fact be causing an vacuum that increases likelihood of dog transitioning from another area as their social order and territorial areas alters.

As with all livestock management and animal welfare issues there is  no easy answer in regards to welfare and economic needs that is plain cut and correct for everyone to follow, We protect one animal by killing another. There has to be some form of balance but at the moment the pendulum is that wild dog numbers are excessive and causing catastrophic non sustainable losses to many livestock production systems.

Impact on Livestock production
From a personal viewpoint the experience of finding animals that are still alive but severely maimed is the most distressing.

As our property is open range we usually find an injured animal a number of days after they have been attacked. Blood poisoning or septicaemia is generally well established, particularly if it is hot humid weather by the time we find the animals.

Due to dog inflicted injuries, the animal is often suffering secondary infections from blow fly maggot infestation or general infection due to dirt entering open wounds. The wounds by their smell and purification sometimes attract other predators including more dogs and pigs; this then initiates a second attack which would usually kill the animal.
Wild dogs can cause significant trauma to the tail, the resulting crush injury is then prone to a condition called ‘tail rot’. Blood flow has been affected to parts of the tail and the tissue dies (necrotic),  this can cause infection to enter the tail and moves up the tail possibly into the spinal cord even leading to meningitis and paralysis of the hind quarter.
We produce cattle and though quiet in nature by pastoral standards these animals are not tame or used to being handled, such as a dairy herd or southern beef herd may be accustomed too. Sometimes we  see livestock injured by dog damage but to capture and attempt to give them some form of medication involves chasing them. This then causes even further stress usually worsening their injuries, increasingly bleeding and pain.

15.12.12 227_edited-1Picture 2 – This weaner is with its mother, having suffered an attack as seen by the scratches on its ears. The animal is in a low body conditioned state as it is late in the dry season when fodder is at is worst nutritional level. We were unable to catch this calf and do not know if it survived.
Sometimes we find calves that have received injuries and are so exhausted from their ordeal we can walk up and capture them, Often they don’t attempt to move away. The mother may be present and  significantly agitated or obviously suffering exhaustion because she has been fighting off a number of dogs over a long duration. Other times the calves have been entirely abandoned.

06.05.2015 070_edited-1Picture 3. A young heifer several months after we captured her. She was lying near a tree with her mother still with her and had suffered a dog attack that tore the muscle and skin from her shoulders and rear end, including her tail and ears, the scar tissue can easily be seen. She recovered eventually but due to her trauma and forced weaning (we removed her from her mum) she remained a small and stunted animal. This calf suffered long periods of repeat infections that went right down her front legs due to skin being pulled from the muscle but not broken, She was tough enough to survive but will never be able to be sold and possibly never be able to breed.

Depending on the injuries and if the calves mother is present, and we can catch the little guys we may  apply medicated sprays that we carry in our vehicles all the time and release the calf to its mother or we may capture the animal and take it home to become a ‘poddy’. Often these animals die as they are unable to handle the combined stress of having been attacked, weaning and the infection and injury assaulting their bodies.
There are times when we have found animals so distressed and with such infection that on approaching them we can smell their rotting flesh, occasionally we can clean these wounds and the animal will survive, other times we have to shoot them. Euthanasia is not a pleasant process for the producer, this is invariably shooting an animal that we are responsible for and feel incredibly sorry for due to the injuries they have received. We are all licensed to carry and discharge firearms.
We conduct a basic record of all animals that we capture for their first branding, keeping a tally of what we regard as a minor or major body damage. These are the animals which have been attacked but have survived, we have no real idea of the ones that have been attacked and have died. A visual inspection is conducted of each animal as we restrain them individually at branding time. If the calf has only a torn ear then we call it minor, if it shows any scar damage especially across its withers (shoulders) legs, rump and particularly if it has no tail then it is regarded as major. We use these records and general observations to plan and implement a wild dog control program.
We have had animals survive dog attacks that come into the yard with their genitals torn and sometimes even missing testicles all together. Often significant scar tissue is around the rump or their tail is gone from  high on the point it joins their backbone. Some animals have slight damage to their ears; others don’t have ears at all. The dogs have attacked them by hanging onto their ears and hindquarters until parts of their body were physically tore away. If the wounds have healed there are often large indentations or obvious deformity in that part of the body.
Some livestock show no obvious impediment from their body damage though the loss of a tail means they have little to combat flies and irritating bugs with. Some recover from unbelievably horrific and deep cuts, while the muscle shape is lost their bodies do seem to adapt to the weakness of those muscles damaged. Some females if their genitals are damaged have difficulty calving due to the extensive scar tissue around their vagina area.

For the animals that survive or have been a victim of a wild dog attack the stress and energy lost in exertion of fighting or running from dogs can be detrimental to the animals health. Especially late in the dry season when body condition is paramount to the long term health of the livestock, reduction of this condition can affect their long term survivability until rains are received.
Reasons for control of wild dogs
I would be lying if I said we didn’t want to control dogs because they fundamentally cost us a financial fortune, but the motivation is also too equally to protect our stock from pain and suffering. We are responsible for the wellbeing of our cattle but at times feel completely helpless in the onslaught they seem to face from wild dogs. Stopping livestock production is not an option, therefore we must find ways to protect our stock.
Many years and again significant amounts of money have gone into enabling the genetics and breeding of livestock animals to occur. Including the supply of significant water and infrastructure development. To achieve the task of having an animal become pregnant and give birth to a live healthy calf is predominantly the aim of what we do. We produce animals.

Wild dogs attack the animals usually the smallest and weakest and destroy our production and profitability. The flow on impact of wild dog damage is massive, yet our very operation actually supports their access to water and easy prey for food.
On the one hand we are protecting our stock, on the other we are destroying another animal to enable our livestock to live.

Some argue the native Dingo should be protected, to a point I do agree but the true pure Dingo is largely non-existent now and I believe they have largely adapted to hunting livestock as they are easier to kill than native animals.
The fact that wild dogs can cause such catastrophic damage as hybrids or in conjunction with each other indicates to me that wild dog numbers are so excessive at present that realistically if businesses are to survive then we must implement significant long term wild dog control programs that control the population.

We are having animals being pulled down and sometimes killed that are over 1 year old and weigh over 200kg, if dogs are injuring these animals then a small calve is hardly going to challenge them who may not be much larger than the dogs themselves.

28.10.15 019_edited-1Picture – A newborn calf with the afterbirth yet to be cleaned by his mother. This calf is still unstable on his legs and will be unstable for several hours after birth. Small calves of this age and size are literally defenceless from a pack of dogs.
In the NT, Dingo’s are regarded as a native species and accordingly they are afforded full legal protection under the Territory Parks & Wildlife conservation Act 2006. It is an offence to possess, interfere or kill dingo’s unless authorised. Wild dogs are not protected and need to be controlled.
How do we control wild dogs without decimating the native Dingo?
Unfortunately current chemicals used in baiting programs to control wild dogs are not specie specific, the baits we lay to kill wild dogs will kill Dingo’s but with controls and strict regulations in place the amount of baits we are allowed including time periods and place allocation enables some populations of the Dingo to survive as we are not allowed to bait however or whenever we like.
There are a number of methods used to control wild dogs but I will explain the 1080 baits that we are authorised to use on our property in the following blog

Wild dog management on Pastoral land #3

Categories: Animal Welfare, Beef Industry, Cattle station | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Hay & Fodder Suppliers to Live animal export.

For every $1M the NT beef industry generated in 2012/13 it created another $510,000 within the NT economy.

For every 100 jobs held in the NT beef industry another 36 are created in the NT economy alone.

(NT DPIF Outlook 2013)

I began writing this blog about service providers to the Live export industry but then realised I couldn’t really do that without showing the fluctuations in the live export markets and how that impact affected producers and thus the flow on to service providers.

Therefore I have broken the post into 2 sections.
1. NT Live cattle export – Darwin
2. Hay & Fodder Suppliers to Live animal export.

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I have not addressed animal welfare issues in these posts as I am working on some other blogs to address that.

Some service providers are paid arranged set prices for the goods they may supply such as hay or retail goods. Others  rely on commissions in the form of percentages of the gross dollars earned or rates of pay in regards to volumes of animals handled. e.g stock agents. Transporters are paid on a basis of volume carried and the distances they transport the stock on a kilometre rate travelled. Hay producers can be paid either per tonnage or rate of pay per bale supplied.

This post mainly focus’ on the fodder service providers to the NT live animal export industry.

The NT fodder industry has grown steadily in the last 18 years in line with the export of live cattle from the NT

Darwin LE v's Fodder_edited-1Chart 1. Live export of cattle from the Darwin port and the tonnage production of hay and fodder in the NT.

Fodder production_edited-1Chart 2. Production of hay, fodder and Silage in the NT and their combined value.

The most common pastures grown for hay production in the north of the NT are Jarra  and Cavalcade. Some forage sorghum’s that are suited to the tropics are also used to produce hay, these being Sudan and Sweet Sorghum.

Fodder production in the NT main problems are climate, weed management and nitrogen deficiency in the soils but also experience similar issues to any other cropping enterprise, poor rain seasons, insects, fire and costs of plant and equipment.

Many hay producers were impacted by the ban in June 2011, yet most didn’t produce cattle. Like us, the cattle producers, many hay growers wondered if their business’s were finished in 2011, as some of us thought ours may be. Now in 2014 they simply can’t supply enough hay for the movement of cattle that is now occurring through the NT’s only port Darwin.
Like us fodder suppliers faced difficulties in holding supply and stock in 2011. Now having unexpected market increases and demand for their product due to significant market improvement and influx of other states cattle, 2014 sees NT suppliers purchasing fodder from other states to ensure demands are met.

14.09.2014 055_edited-1Pic 3. Hay production, round bale production on natural pasture. South of Katherine. These are the bales we prefer to use simply for ability to lift and use with the smaller machinery we have, and our requirement to feed different small yardings of animals at any one time.

Hay growers produce round or large square bales. Cattle breeders feed these on their properties when handling weaners, working cattle and also to feed cattle intended for sale prior to transport.
On the one hand producers generally give an indication of how many bales they would like to purchase in pre-set agreements. On the other you can never be really sure how many bales you will go through. With the wet occurring late this year (time of writing November 2014) we were feeding hay for much longer period to young cattle than we had originally intended at the end of the dry season. This is a necessary cost we are willing to wear as these weaners could lose too much condition and possibly die without extra feeding. How much longer we will need to feed it is anyone’s guess and depends on the weather gods. We use round bales that weigh about 200kg and are convenient for us to handle.(Early December 2014 we have received some good early wet season storms). Square bales are much larger and heavier and are preferred by many producers. Economically the square bales are more cost-effective to transport and handle but they can weigh up to 500kg each.

06.06.13 012_weaners _edited-1

Pic 4. Weaners being fed hay. A round bale rolled out. An important practice to teach them handling ability and to learn that hay is food. Feeding hay to animals quietens them and desensitizes them to people.

The NT had a short history of silage production. I haven’t been able to find why this was discontinued.

Hay growers also supply hay to pre-export yards, which process the hay and mix it with other foodstuffs to process into pellets and fed in bunkers similar to feedlots, the cattle also eat the bales directly. Supply numbers to pre-export yards would be very difficult to estimate as some markets and cattle to be processed simply couldn’t be forecast with accuracy more than a few months from when orders are actually realised.
While export yards may have contracts and some degree of idea of numbers they work on, like us they can only store and handle so much hay at any one time, and like us are not likely to know forward export requirements by more than 6 months at best. There is no set pattern of which port a ship or country may obtain cattle from and exporters may rely on regional supply of cattle and the type of animal they require at the time, prior to announcing schedules of shipping.

To illustrate the variance from which port cattle may be exported to the same country I have used Indonesia as the common destination in the 2 following charts.

Northern ports exports._edited-1Chart 5. Cattle exported from the main north Australian ports to Indonesia.

Untitled_edited-1Chart 6. Cattle exported from other Australian ports to Indonesia.

27.11.2013 136_edited-1

Pic.7 Large Square bales being fed to export cattle in a pre-export yard south of Darwin. Square bales are approximately 3 times the weight of round bales. These cattle are also fed shipping pellets to prepare for export transport.

Fodder companies utilise hay to process into pellets, which is transported and used in the pre-export yards and on the ships as the animals’ transverse the sea. Supply to the export yards and shipping facilities is a 100% of their business for some fodder suppliers.

Livestock fodder currently loaded onto 5 carriers berthing at the Darwin port through December 2014 are estimated to be worth $1.3M on its own.

27.11.2013 153_edited-1

Pic. 8. Shipper pellets. Pulverized hay with other grain and fodder supplements, mixed with molasses to form pellets are transported in large ton sized bulk bags to ports for loading to ships. These are fed to cattle pre-export and while on the ships in transit.

Those who specialise in hay production have invested often many years in clearing and developing paddocks to suit their crop types, irrigation, machinery and general soil condition to optimise their cropping harvest abilities.
Most cropping for hay production relies on the wet season rainfall. Planting generally happens about November/December, with the pastures growing through the summer wet months, cutting and baling happening from March on wards through the dry season. Natural pasture production areas may be baled later in the year July through to September.
Peak demand for hay is through the dry with the mustering of cattle and the highest activity of the ships loading at the port.
At times hay producers are left with surplus supplies from the dry season of bales for which they still have on property and need to protect over the wet seasons. To maintain the integrity of the nutritional value of the fodder it is important that it is covered to protect it from water logging. Bales kept dry will be suitable for sale at a later date and therefore valuable to the grower as future income. Wet bales are worthless for fodder, In fact even dampness in bales can cause mould which can then be extremely dangerous for animals to consume.

Rainfall averages of Katherine’s 2.4m and Darwin 3.2m combined with high humidity and temperatures of the top end through the wet would soon turn large uncovered haystacks into soggy, hot and rotting piles of worthless gunk. I have left a hay bale in my garden for mulch as a full bale over one wet and actually seen it was fly blown due to it being perfect conditions for the maggots to survive moisture and temperature.

hay 001

Pic 9. Source. NT DPI stacking and storing hay. An example of large square bales stack with a tarpaulin cover to protect the hay from water logging through the wet season.

2008 had been a very low fodder production year, with below average rainfalls and ownership of some properties deciding to discontinue hay production.
2009 saw increased production of fodder but with a surplus of supply, some had to store hay over the 09/10 wet.
09/10 wet was a late finish for rains received which enabled record production, but the following wet 10/11 set in early meaning again some producers had surplus hay to demands and had to store it over the wet. The Indonesian imposed import quotas were also having a negative effect on demand due to the fact that the numbers of cattle being exported were in decline.
The 2010/2011 wet season had been a very good season for hay growers as it was a consistent rainfall event allowing for large tonnage of hay to be produced at 83,230t and valued at $19M. Some producers of natural pastures chose not to bale due to reduced demand because of the live export ban.
When the ban of live export to Indonesia occurred, June 2011. The export yards and ships stopped, many hay producers were left holding thousands of tonnes of bales that had been pre-ordered but suddenly those orders were cancelled or had been post-phoned. 2011/12 values of fodder dropped to $13.9M. Many growers had been left with excess bales from 2011 and didn’t want to bale more hay which they possibly couldn’t sell due to the uncertainty of markets at the time, therefore some pastures were left standing in paddocks.

A cubing plant located in Katherine, who had just finished substantial multimillion dollar upgrades, had operational and commitment costs to purchase hay of $500,000 per month when the ban occurred in 2011. They had two full road trains loaded and ready to leave the facility to transport the fodder to ships waiting to load cattle the very day the ban was invoked. Those truck orders were immediately cancelled and the fodder never even left the cubing plant. They had over 8,000 tonnes of hay on site ready to be processed for the coming season’s activity and yet they then had no orders.
The plant had to prepare for what they would do with the hay over the wet if it wasn’t processed. They didn’t have enough tarps to cover the stacks if it wasn’t utilised. Therefore to be prepared for the wet and allow manufacture time they had to order tarps in June, at a cost of over $8,000 each, they needed 10 of them. Some growers didn’t have the cash funds for tarps and simply left the bales to rot.
The cubing plant estimated it lost 90% of its sales within days of the ban being invoked, including subsequent price drops. Then they had to endure undercutting from interstate fodder suppliers when the cattle started to move in late 2011, everyone was desperate to shift their produce!
The plant had expected to use 2,000 tonnes of hay a month to process, but actually only processed 300 tonnes a month for several months following the ban. After the ban was lifted they supplied 3-4 boats a month, prior to the ban they had budgeted supplying 4 a week.
A contract hay baler who would travel with his equipment to properties around Katherine went from producing 30,000 large square bales in the 2010 season to only 10,000 in 2011 due to cancelled work. This cost his business, immediately! Over half a million dollars in lost income. People didn’t want to go to the expense of baling hay which probably couldn’t be sold, if they didn’t have tarp coverage for the hay it would deteriorate over the wet season and be of little value the following year.
Many hay producers immediately felt the financial strain of lost income when the ban occurred; they now had few outlets to sell too. This was increased when the 2011/12 wet season approached and large stands of hay stacks remained uncovered in paddocks or yards. Most didn’t have tarps.
As producers, like ourselves we were extremely wary of market improvements in the coming 2012 and 2013 years. We had been abandoned by the government when they had implemented the ban and the mood in general of market improvement was one of scepticism and wariness. Add to that the phone tapping scandals and poor intergovernmental relations between Indonesia and Australia. It appeared the Australian government wasn’t too concerned about re-establishment of good trade relations. It was hoped markets would improve but it wasn’t going to be quick, relationships were being rebuilt but it was a slow process, Cattle producers realised ESCAS would take time to develop and implement. So we waited. When Indonesia and other markets did open up late in 2011 and throughout 2012 the specifications of requirements for cattle were stringent and this also limited export numbers.
We slashed our budgets accordingly, which meant we curtailed any spending to only what was absolutely necessary. Hay orders were kept to the minimum as we simply didn’t handle many selling animals and they were returned to paddocks if markets weren’t available. We simply didn’t buy our normal levels of orders for steel, animal health, fencing equipment and machinery repairs.
The hay producers followed suit, they didn’t plant much when the planting period of November / December came and went over the 12/13 wet. and they knew if we were not going to shift cattle then they also would have limited markets to sell too and thus income. A few years previously the 12/13 year had been forecast to have fodder value at $14.8M, in reality it achieved only $12.4M.
We were all highly stressed and we were in self-preservation mode.
If we were going to go broke, we were taking a lot of others with us, not intentionally, but we were all linked. The thing was, we had to hold off going broke as best we could because we couldn’t sell our property on a sliding property market with poor prospects of live export for trade. So we did hope that markets come back because there’s really nothing else we could do but simply ride it out.
The hay producers in 12/13 wet again limited the planted areas to hay production. The wet season was below average with rainfall occurring in deluges then with long periods of dry spells in between. This caused poor germination and affected plant viability, some crops failed all together. Production was down for the coming 2013 dry season as the fodder was simply not as dense as usual and proteins levels had been affected. Fodder shortages did occur late in the dry season of 2013.
Cattle markets steadily improved in 2013 for live export cattle producers and there were murmurs of easing of the import quotas from Indonesia and substantial orders to Vietnam, but they hadn’t come on-line at that stage and prices while increasing were still only at break even. People were optimistically cautious.
2013 saw Indonesia presidency elections in full swing, with quiet acknowledgement that their self-efficiency would not be attainable in the short-term. In fact people were demanding meat and the governments needed to increase imports to meet their people’s demands. They implemented quotas based on the pricing of secondary cuts on their own wet meat markets late 2013 and into 2014. Vietnam was giving strong indications of not only surpassing their previous year’s cattle purchases but tripling them in 2014. We were optimistic, but the proof is only when the orders are called.
Hay producers again held back extensive planting for the 13/14 period. Cattle producers viewed reports of massive market number requirements with healthy scepticism, the growers wanted to actually see numbers shipped before they would commit themselves to large plantings.
2014 was a turnaround for live export for the cattle producers. The majority of Australia was in severe drought, cattle turnoff, including females was exceeding previous records dating back many years, cattle producers weren’t only selling normal stock they were selling breeders because of feed shortages. QLD and northern NSW was processing 11% higher than in 2013, southern states processing 23% higher(Weekly times 29/10/2014). The Australian processors were flooded with cattle and dropped their prices accordingly.

We finally had some serious competition in markets for cattle, Vietnam orders had materialised and Indonesia was importing near record numbers. Prices were above $2.00/kg and remaining stable. Other states producers were sending cattle to live export who had never live exported in their lives, the ability to sell feeder animals in a light weight of less than 350kg was a god send to some for income, otherwise they had no where else to sell. some meat processors were taking bookings months ahead with no quotation of prices. Live export was enabling many producers an income that was paramount to their financial survival, half of the 415,000 exported from the Darwin port at the end of October 2014 were from QLD.

This has placed un-prepared for demand for hay and fodder in the areas that supply the export yards, ships and general spelling of cattle, No only Darwin but spelling yards such as Cloncurry where animals were transited all needed hay.
2014 has seen such a massive demand for fodder that the hay producers in the north have been cleaned out and have received good prices. This is good for them and hopefully means many of them can regain some serious income going into 2015 as they conduct plantings now with the live export markets positive for the coming year.
The interesting things is, that Katherine cubing plant has had to truck in so much hay from down south to keep up with demand, they have dedicated 3-4 full road trains a week only for hay cartage. This has meant the cost of production has actually kept their profit margins down. They have seen producers leave the industry and the whole landscape and changed since the ban. After the ban the plant had so much hay in storage they didn’t buy any fodder off local suppliers in 2011 or 2012. This affected locals badly whose income was hay production, some sold up and left the industry entirely.
Recent articles concerning hay  looks positive for good market supply of hay for the coming year. Ironically I hope the increased demand for hay doesn’t mean that cattle producers can’t afford to buy it. Quiet simply we can’t operate without hay. As my husband would say “ hay is worth a couple of good men”. We need to have market accessibility and competition to achieve sustainable beef production. We also need our service providers.

Categories: Beef Industry, Cattle station, Darwin live cattle export, Dry Season, Hay and fodder production, Live Exports, Northern Territory., Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Northern Territory Live Cattle export – Darwin

For every $1M the NT beef industry generated in 2012/13 it created another $510,000 within the NT economy.

For every 100 jobs held in the NT beef industry another 36 are created in the NT economy alone.

(NT DPIF Outlook 2013)

I began writing this blog about service providers to the Live export industry but then realised I couldn’t really do that without showing the fluctuations in the live export markets and how that impact affected producers and thus the flow on to service providers.

Therefore I have broken this topic into 2.
1. NT Live cattle export – Darwin
2. Hay & Fodder Suppliers to Live animal export.

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I have not addressed animal welfare issues in these posts as I am working on some other blogs to address that.

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Service providers to the Northern Territory live cattle export industry may not directly own cattle, but they fulfil a very important role to enable cattle production. They are many and varied, including fodder producers who grow and provide hay. Transporters , fuel providers or they supply goods and direct services, like stock agents or veterinarians. Without these service providers direct cattle producers simply wouldn’t have the capabilities to operate and conduct, our business of cattle breeding.

Ripple effect June 2011_edited-1

Chart 1. Ripple map illustrating the effects that the income of a live export producer has on the service industries and suppliers, in turn the cattle producers heavily rely on these other industries.

 As livestock numbers and the value of cattle fluctuate by direct income to producers, that in turn affects the direct supply and demand requirements of supplies.

Within the Northern Territory cattle industry there were, according to ABARES at the end of 2013, approximately 2 million cattle located in the NT. This is about 15% of the total Australian Beef herd.

NT Herd_edited-1

Chart 2. The NT Beef herd showing the long-term increase of the Mature female component and the total beef herd in the NT. Gradual increases have occurred since the mid 90’s due to better management and productivity practices and stronger influence of the Bos Indicus breeds.

600,000 sale animals are turned off annually from the NT; on average half go to live export and the other half to slaughter processors, or other producers in Australia.

NT Cattle Production_edited-2Chart 3. Source DPI & F overview Outlook 2013
Northern Territory Cattle – Value of production 2000-01 to 2017-18

2012 /13 Output cattle value of production for only NT origin cattle was $307.4M , including live exports and slaughter. For every $1M the NT beef industry generated in 2012/13 it created another $510,000 within the NT economy. For every 100 jobs held in the NT beef industry another 36 are created in the NT economy alone. (NT DPIF Outlook 2013). The beef industry dominates agricultural and fisheries production in the NT.

NT beef production operates on mostly natural open rangeland land systems dependent on natural rainfall occurrences. The Simpson and Great Sandy Deserts are located in the south, with very hot and dry climates and rainfall averages of 150mm per annum but very fertile soils. Contrastively the northern high rainfall tropics experience a distinctive high rainfall period and dry season with rainfall measurements of over 3m per annum with generally lower fertility soils.

Nt rainfall_edited-1Chart 4. The rainfall averages for the NT

NT map_edited-1Chart 5. NT map of Agriculture land uses.

 To illustrate how live export markets have fluctuated over the last several years the following statistics are based on predominantly the live export of cattle from the Northern Territories only port, Darwin.

Darwin total cattle_edited-1Chart 5. The tally of only cattle that have been exported through the Darwin Port 2009 – 2014 (Nov) to all destinations.

Darwin exports 09_11_edited-1Darwin exports 12_14_edited-1

Charts 6 & 7. All cattle exported from Darwin. This is the exact same data as chart 5

Darwin other animals._edited-1Chart 8. Other animals live exported from the Darwin Port. 2009-2014

High cattle numbers exported don’t necessarily mean more money earned per individual animal, producers are paid on a kilogram live basis on delivery of the animals, the price is dependent on current market situations.

Livelink 001Chart 9. Source LiveCorp. Livelink November 2014. Australian saleyard and live cattle prices. At $1.50/kg in 2013 a 330kg animal was gross value of $495, in 2014 at $2.60 that same weighted animal is now worth $858, 73% more than just 12 months previously.

In reference to the above chart  NT DPI quoted no prices for records for live animals. In May of 2011 the market was approximately $1.65/kg. When the Indonesian live export ban was implemented June 6, 2011 only the cattle already on the water (2713 hd) were recorded, nil export occurred to Indonesia in July 2011. Prior to June 2011 at least 21,000 head were transported to Indonesia every single month for the previous 4 years. Many of the cattle exported immediately after the lifting of the ban in July 2011 were already pre-contracted prior to June and therefore not relevant to pricing after.. Personally, with difficulty to even find space on ships. ABARES predicted at July 2011 there were 365,000 unsold export cattle unsold (QLD CL 28/07/2011). we were able to sell some cattle to Indonesian markets in late 2011 and the price was again $1.65/kg late in the year. It  was near impossible to sell cattle during the period of July to September. So many cattle were already in the ports supply region that stock agents weren’t even able to give producers prices because the exporters were simply not requiring more cattle to fill orders.

High livestock numbers does mean an increase in demand of goods such as hay and transport from service providers. These numbers have to be moving though. Many producers simply didn’t sell cattle and some didn’t even muster if they knew they couldn’t find markets.

Fluctuations, stoppages, increases and decreases in live cattle market demand has been impacted by many factors, some in conjunction and others significant in their own right. The following are not in any particular order and should not be considered as stand alone pressures that work independently to affect markets.

Import and live weight quotas by Indonesia were introduced in 2010 to attempt to obtain self sufficiency in beef production and consumption in that country. By the end of 2013  local Indonesian wet market prices increases had resulted in the significant easing of the policies as their government realised that 100% beef self sufficiency wasn’t possible in the short-term. A different quota system was introduced in 2014 dependent on pricing of secondary meat cuts in the wet markets. The trigger price is 76,000 Rp/kg ($7.43 AUS). If the local wet markets fall below this price, reductions will be made to limit import cattle and beef  into Indonesia. This is hoped to protect their own beef producers from oversupply by Australia and yet enable surety of beef supply for their nation’s consumption.

Indonesia. Import quotas_edited-1Chart 10. All  cattle exported to Indonesia from all Australian ports. Indonesian import quotas for live cattle were predominantly for feeder types >350kg. In 2014 part of the allocation was for heavier slaughter  and breeder cattle.

The Darwin port has handled approximately 40% of all Australian cattle exports for the last several years and exported 60% of those destined for South east Asia in 2013. While some say the export quotas were the most restrictive of live export numbers, at least in 2011 a quota is still a quota and some degree of market. The ban was a complete stoppage. On going effects of the Australian decisions did untold damage to relations at the time and are only now being significantly rebuilt. Prior to 2011 market analysts have assessed that the Indonesian self sufficiency targets were unobtainable for years, proven by the fact that the target dates themselves were often extended. Report opinions were that it was a matter of time before demand from local Indonesians would pressure their government to allow increased imports of beef and live animals.

Following the Indonesian live export ban it was significant that other markets were able to be increased to Vietnam that accepted heavier types of cattle than what Indonesia preferred.

Darwin major destinations._edited-1Chart 11. Major Destinations for Cattle from the Darwin Port.

Other factors impacting on markets are currency fluctuations, weather patterns, economies within Australia and other countries, currency exchange rates, animal type requirement in breed, weight and sex, animal values, ESCAS implementation and cost, competition from other countries and the Australian meat processing sector, health protocols and change in requirements of the importing countries for both type and volume of animals.

Darwin is the only live animal export facility for the NT, some of the service providers in the NT may service other states like QLD and WA.

2014 cattle that have been moved through the Darwin port have regularly been double of the average for the combined preceding 5 years. This is significant because previously most cattle from Darwin were NT sourced, in 2014 that was not the case.

Darwin 5 yr averages_edited-1
Chart 12. Darwin live cattle export numbers for 2014 compared to averages of the previous 5 years.

What I’m trying to show in these charts is that live cattle exports have been highly variable through the years with 2014 exploding.

A very broad estimate of about 80-90% of all Darwin cattle exported for the previous 5 years (Not including 2014) were sourced from  NT properties. 2014 has seen the NT supply portion drop to about 65%, as the Darwin port has received significant influx of cattle transported from SA, NSW and QLD. A news article in regarding October exports stated that of the previous few months cattle exports over half had been supplied from QLD.

The flow of cattle coming from other states will be assisting service providers to the industry but it takes time to grow and produce fodder and meet the demand requirements.

How predictable are future live cattle export markets? Goodness, how long is a piece of string!
Indonesia’s issuing of import permits will depend on the new system which they have developed with the base price of 76,000Rp. At the moment Indonesian import permits for 2015 have not been released and meat prices are trading over Rp 100,000 per kg. It is expected that Indonesia will increase its cattle and beef imports above 2014 figures.
In the MLA Beef Industry forecasts, Cattle industry projections mid year 2014 the live export markets are expected to remain relatively stable in overall numbers as to what was then forecast to be exported in 2014. Markets in Vietnam, Israel and now possibly Thailand and China are looking promising for requiring significant numbers of live cattle.

Forecasts 2015_edited-2

The main restriction on the numbers to export may will sourcing cattle, given the huge turnoff in Australian slaughter and live export for 2013 and throughout 2014.
For cattle producers this gives us some degree of confidence that markets will be relatively good in 2015, with forecasts of good prices to go with it. Production wise we don’t change quickly as it takes time to build up numbers to take advantage of market access. What it does mean is that we focus on making sure the cattle we do have, meet the required specifications of what the markets demand.
If the cattle producers have confidence that markets are going to be consistent and improve then we will also be buying up on the goods and services that we need to place our animals in the best health production and presentation wise to ensure we can receive the optimum prices we can for the immediate future and going into the coming years.
So where has this led our service providers such as the hay and fodder production people?

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Categories: Beef Industry, Cattle station, Darwin live cattle export, Live Exports, Northern Territory. | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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