The Starks’ prolonged dry at Forest Hill

Forest Hill beef producers feeding stock and carting water due to prolonged dry conditions


Gary Stark, McAllister, Forest Hill, is carting water to 45 head of cattle as the dam is dry.

Gary Stark, McAllister, Forest Hill, is carting water to 45 head of cattle as the dam is dry.

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South east Queensland is in the grip of drought due to lack of rain over the past three summers.

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Drought stricken Lockyer Valley beef producers, Gary and Edwina Stark are hoping the start of summer will bring an end to dry times in their region. 

The south east corner of Queensland is currently in the grip of a prolonged dry due to a lack of summer rain over the past three years.

The Starks normally runs 650 breeders on McAllister and on additional leased country, but have reduced their numbers back to 450 cows.

“I have lived here for 66 years, and while there have been dry times, it is the driest I have seen it in 25 years,” Mr Stark said.

“We probably have not had summer rain for the past three years and little winter rain,” he said

“We have just been getting three to five millimetres, a big fall would total 10 mm – and they have been few and far between.”

In addition to carting water to one paddock every second day, using a 2000 gallon water tanker, the couple are also feeding their stock.

“We are carting water to a paddock that has 45 head, as the dam is dry and the cattle we were bogging. 

“Our other dams also dried up, and that allowed us to clean them.

“Those paddocks have bores, so once the dams were cleaned, we have been able to refill with bore water.  

“Also we are buying in local barley and soaking it for 24 hours before mixing it with bought in grassy hay, wheat stubble and molasses to feed to our stock..

“The cattle are doing well and it is certainly sticking to them, and they haven’t gone backwards.

“In a good year we can stockpile 3000 tonne of silage, and 1500 round bales.

“The four hay sheds are empty, as we ran out of our stockpiled supplies last month.”  

The Starks normally sell their weaner turn-off, but now offloading what they can to reduce numbers.

“Next to go will be a line of 70 heifers as soon as possible,” he said

“We had intended to keep these heifers that have just calved down their first calves, as our replacements.” 

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