Droving sheep measure of desperate times

Broken Hill producer droving sheep through Queensland


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Michael Anderson's mob White Dorpers on the road outside Tambo. They were unloaded at Charleville last month and have been doing 10km a day.

Michael Anderson's mob White Dorpers on the road outside Tambo. They were unloaded at Charleville last month and have been doing 10km a day.

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It's not often you see a mob of sheep moving through Queensland with a drover, but for Broken Hill producer Michael Anderson it's a vital step to keep his White Dorper operation going through the drought.

Aa

It's not often you see a mob of sheep moving through Queensland with a drover, but for Broken Hill producer Michael Anderson it's a vital step to keep his White Dorper operation going through the drought.

Cymbric Vale Station, 180km north east of Broken Hill, has been pushed to the wall due to a severe lack of rainfall.

"It pretty much stopped raining in October 2016," he said.

Since then the property's largest falls have been 30mm over three days in March 2017, 21mm on Easter Sunday this year and 16mm on May 2.

In November 2017 he bought a 113ha former dairy farm on South Australia's Fleurieu Peninsula to accommodate his flock but after a tough winter in 2018 feeding sheep, he knew he needed a different plan for 2019.

"Obviously I had been watching the weather reports and once there were some falls in this area, I put our applications in," he said.

Mr Anderson trucked a mob of 2500 sheep up to Charleville about a month ago and plans to stay on the road until about September.

The mob is made up of 2100 ewes, with the rest weaners.

"I'm chasing up any lead I can find on agistment," he said.

"If we don't get these sheep through, we'll be in a pretty tough spot."

Meanwhile Mr Anderson's wife Britt and two daughters, Lillian,10, and Ivy, 8, remain at Cymbric Vale Station, looking after 1100 ewes.

Mr Anderson said the ongoing drought has decimated his lambing percentages and now it's just a matter of keeping the flock going until conditions improve.

The operation joins about 4500 ewes in an average season, resulting in roughly 6000 lambs.

"We reared about 2500 lambs last year but we basically had to sell all of them as stores," Mr Anderson said.

This year he expects to perhaps rear 300 lambs.

Jess Halstead, Michael Anderson and Thomas Smyth have been on the road with Mr Anderson's sheep.

Jess Halstead, Michael Anderson and Thomas Smyth have been on the road with Mr Anderson's sheep.

With some of the ewes lambing, it's meant a day-time truck ride for the new lambs, mothered up at night.

The few lambs born on the trip will have names connected with the trip, such as Yo Yo, born near Yo Yo bore at Augathella.

Mr Anderson will also look to take the mob to a yard in the near future for pregnancy scanning, with ewes joined before they began their trip. Depending on the results, he may then bring some rams up to put on the road with the ewes.

Given the rarity of seeing a drover with sheep, Mr Anderson said he's had plenty of questions and support along the way.

"People are up for a chat and there's a lot of interest in the story," he said.

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