’People are really suffering’ What Roger saw
THE days where cattle hobby farmer Roger Toole watched his herd feed on long green grass are long behind him – feeding them seed is becoming the new norm.
The Tungamull retiree has farmed cattle on his property for the past 42 years and he said weather conditions are the worst he’s seen.
“We’ve had no rain on this property for two years,” Mr Toole said.
“The dams and creeks are drying up at a rapid rate.”
The Milliron property, which was once an 11,000 acre farm, is 650 acres where Mr Toole breeds red headed brahman cattle as a hobby.
While the cattle once drank from bodies of water across the property, delivering water to 100 head of cattle has become part of his daily routine.
Drought has caused the cost of keeping cattle to increase exponentially and with no grass available Mr Toole paid $13,000 in September alone to feed his cattle - normally it would cost him close to zero.
He said the impact conditions had on him was minimal compared to large scale cattle producers.
He recently flew across Roma, Stanthrope, White Cliffs and Cunnamulla, and conditions were dire.
“People are really suffering, it’s terrible,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter where I’ve been - it’s like chips, it’s dirt.”
Most farmers’ only option was to offload cattle to reduce costs.
Mr Toole said he had already downsized his herd and he would again if there was no rain before Christmas.
He said keeping cows healthy was difficult in dry weather particularly in calving season with farmers having to purchase supplements.
“There’s a lack of good quality cattle going to saleyards because of conditions,” he said.
While conditions were the worst in seven decades, he was optimistic for the future - he believed they were part of a weather cycle.
“We’ve got to realise we live in a very arid country and we need to be conscious we do get droughts and they come and go and we get a heavy wet season,” he said.
He believed conditions would improve and in the meantime he planned to work with what he had.
The number of fire breaks he made on the property doubled this year to protect himself from what he believes will be a dry summer.