Middlemount grazier John Baker highlights the erosion on his property Booroondarra in 2016. Photo Contributed
Middlemount grazier John Baker highlights the erosion on his property Booroondarra in 2016. Photo Contributed Sharon Howard - AgForce

Graziers forced to de-stock amidst CQ drought

MANY Central Queensland properties are struggling with the lack of current January rainfall.

AgForce Central Queensland regional president John Baker said his own cattle property Boroondara, between Middlemount and Dysart, had been lucky to avoid the sting of the January drought.

"From reports there have been a number of cattle prices dropping and dry weather is the cause,” Mr Baker said.

"Properties out Alpha and Jericho way have received no rain at all and they're looking to de-stock.

"We'll be looking at doing the same if we don't get any rain in the next three to four weeks.

"There has been some relief rain but we need more to fill damns and supply a body of feed to carry on through the rest of the year.”

This month, Mr Baker's property has received 40mm rain, which has dropped from the average 60mm he received in December.

"January is not reliable for rain. February and March are much more reliable and I'm hoping it happens again this year and brings some decent rain,” Mr Baker said.

"The average rain this month is below average but the reliability of rainfall is about the same.

"January is either a feast or famine with rainfall. Big rain or not much at all.

"Most properties have had a bit of rain which has kept the grass in pretty good quality and stock in good order but the amount of feed is where the concern is.”

Mr Baker said property stock particularly out west is "starting to lose condition” and many landowners are crossing their fingers for a downpour that will see their grass "freshen up” and their dam levels top up.

"Our farm dam is getting low too... people are getting concerned,” he said.

"There are a lot of people in the same position and if this continues it is going to have a detrimental affect on the market.

"In the short time there could be a fall in the supply of cattle on the market which could put pressure on the prices of livestock and could trickle through the meat market.

"Depending on how long it goes for, in the future it could increase the prices.”

South west of Emerald, Fairbairn Dam's levels have seen a signifiant plunge since January last year.

A SunWater spokesperson said the dam is currently at 26.8 per cent.

On January 21 last year, the levels sat at 48.6 per cent.

The current low is only 14.9 per cent higher than the lowest the dam has ever been, which was 11.9 per cent in January 2007.

Despite the dam's current low levels, the Nogoa Mackenzie Water Supply Scheme is still in place to service customers in surrounding areas.

"The current dam level has not impacted customers as the announced allocation for Nogoa Mackenzie Water Supply Scheme (WSS) irrigators is currently 100%,” the spokesperson said.

Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Adam Woods said there will be little relief for the Capricorn region in the coming week.

Despite a ridge on the coast causing a medium chance of showers and the chance of possible thunderstorms carrying through until Sunday, the area is expecting to stay fairly dry.

"The area will likely receive light showers but there's a medium chance at areas such as Rockhampton,” Mr Woods said.

"Areas that may receive thunderstorms can get heavier falls.

"There won't be much rain tomorrow - around 1-2mm.”

Mr Woods said there was a "moderate chance of a tropical cyclone forming in the coral sea on Friday” and these systems usually bring in substantial rain to coastal areas and inland.

However, it appears the system isn't forecast to come near the coast and will move east to south easterly towards Queensland.

"Unfortunately there will be no big rainfall for the Capricorn district with this one as it will be well off shore,” Mr Woods said.

"The cyclone season runs until the end of April so we may see other systems which will be good news for some.

"I'm sure there are many farmers who would like the rain.”

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