Tony Bowen, Divisional Livestock Sales Coordinator Northern Queensland – Landmark, advised me that with a disappointing result for December and January rainfall, most northern Queensland regions – in line with the vast majority of the state – have seen a very busy February, with large numbers of cattle moving.
Charters Towers Combined Agents started their weekly sales a full month earlier than previous years, kicking off before Australia Day, and saw rapid increases in numbers coming forward, quickly rising to 2500 head weekly. February also saw several live export shipments, including a couple of extra boats that were diverted to Queensland when the top end of the NT was getting a drenching.
This was a definite help, as it helped keep the demand in line with the increasing supply to some degree. The market held up well under the pressure of numbers, however the buyer pool was getting pretty thin on the ground.
A very late start to the wet has been welcomed in late February/early March, and not a moment too soon. A big patch of the Charters Towers region has received its best rain in five years, with plenty of people ending up with 8 – 12 inches (200 – 300mm) over a 10-day period, plenty more in areas. Still an odd spot missing out, but this is the most general rain for some time. Plenty of water running in creeks and gullies, and the Burdekin River has been close to lapping the Flinders Hwy bridge (outside Charters Towers) for the first time in several years.
Fingers are crossed that the predicted rain for west, and north-west Qld comes to fruition in the coming week, and that will end up with a big part of the state that was very dry having had a pretty good start. Most people are overjoyed with the rain, and pleased to not have to continue with the forced turn off of cattle that should be sold later in the year.
As some of the senior minds have reminded us, one weather event does not make a season, but this decent start has been very well received, and the fairly solid predictions of reasonable follow-up rain has the region feeling pretty confident about growing enough feed to get them through the bulk of the year.
Numbers will shorten up considerably in the short term, and the shift in supply and demand will help to stabilise prices – at the very least will stop the decline that was imminent – and as has been seen in southern regions could be expected to have a positive influence on the market.