Big stock losses after rain at Blackall

Blackall sheep losses in the thousands after TC Trevor rain


The Big Dry
One of the ewes stuck like glue in the mud at Warringah, west of Blackall. Pictures - Lisa Alexander.

One of the ewes stuck like glue in the mud at Warringah, west of Blackall. Pictures - Lisa Alexander.

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Graziers in south west parts of the Blackall region are reporting big stock losses in the wake of last week's rain after thousands of sheep became bogged in the heavy black mud.

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Graziers in south west parts of the Blackall region are reporting big stock losses in the wake of last week's rain after thousands of sheep became bogged in the heavy black mud.

It's understood that cattle deaths have been experienced on a smaller scale.

Prior to Monday producers were only able to assess potential losses by air but since then the country has been dry enough to confirm their fears.

This week has been spent euthanasing sheep, many of them lambing ewes, unable to stand after days of being stuck.

One of those with the largest losses has been the Banks family on the Springleigh-Rivington aggregation, who said the big cracks in the ground virtually sucked their animals in.

"We've had shocking losses, more than hundreds," Jack Banks said. "Records show that it was the wettest week we've had in the 40 years we've been here."

Read more: Shattered producers' first glimpse of natural disaster

They recorded 220mm for the week. Their next wettest period was in 1990, which led to record flooding, when they had 200mm in a week.

Jack said their stock losses weren't as great then, probably because the animals were stronger and the cracks in the ground weren't as big.

"The country was totally buggered before this," he said.

"I guess it's the perfect example of short term pain for long term gain - I wouldn't want to put a figure on how much feed we'd been putting out each week prior to the rain."

Near-neighbours Bruce and Lisa Alexander had 260mm in five days and expect 50 per cent losses among their Merino ewes.

Graziers have had to euthanase many of the sheep they've found bogged in the paddocks.

Graziers have had to euthanase many of the sheep they've found bogged in the paddocks.

They were down to a third of their carrying capacity and say the worst affected paddock was their young ewes.

"After years of battling dogs and the dry - this is more isolated than what happened in the north west but it's still a natural disaster for us," Bruce said.

"They weren't piled in corners or anything, just dotted across the paddocks."

He and Lisa had been feeding their sheep continually in the lead-up to the rain event, anticipating that the mud would become boggy and wanting to give them as much strength as possible.

However, he said the strength of the mud meant both strong and weak sheep had become stuck.

"It's not good to lose any stock but it's better than it not raining at all," Bruce said.

The Blackall-Tambo region was drought declared in June 2013 and has been in drought since then.

DAF has been asked to comment on the latest stock losses.

Disaster assistance was this week extended to Barcaldine, Barcoo, Blackall-Tambo, Burke, Longreach and Mornington shires to help fund clean-up operations and restore public infrastructure damaged by Tropical Cyclone Trevor.

Assistance from the jointly funded Commonwealth-Queensland Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements had already been announced for Aurukun, Boulia, Cloncurry, Cook, Diamantina, and Lockhart River shires.

Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford said the funding would help the affected local government areas alleviate the cost of counter-disaster operations including sand bagging, tree clearing, and repairing damage to roads.

Related: Toasting Trevor in state's centre

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