It has been great to see so many areas receive nice rain. My thoughts are with those still waiting for their break. In the past five weeks the EYCI has gone from 477c to 662c - just shy of a 40 per cent increase. This would indicate producers are back in the market and keen to increase numbers.
Here are six things to consider when restocking.
1. Is the country ready? Take a good look into your pastures. This means get on a horse or bike and have a good look down into what is growing. Don't fall into the trap of looking across your paddocks cruising down the road with the aircon on singing along with Slim. Paddocks can seem okay looking across them, however can lack bulk looking down into them.
2. Are there toxic plants? Weeds are pioneer species; their job is to cover bare ground, break open hard soils with tap roots and feed soil microbes. Nature has evolved by making some plants toxic at certain growth stages to ensure they weren't eaten before they'd done their job. When animals don't have enough alternative feed to eat, or animals are new to an area and don't know what to avoid, this toxicity risk increases.
3. What is the gross margin? Before buying, always run some numbers to calculate the possible gross margin. Nobody can tell you what the cattle market is going to do so look at a few scenarios and don't panic. I don't believe we are going to run out of cattle!
4. What is the water quality? If water has been sitting for a long time it can deoxygenate. Water is the most essential nutrient for animals so it could be worth dropping out tanks and refilling. Smaller dams and waterholes may have had excess nutrients run into them due to low ground cover. Address any water quality issues as a matter of priority.
5. Is your biosecurity plan up to date? Is your quarantine paddock secure? Is there enough feed there? Ask the seller to complete the animal health declaration.
6. Are you matching stocking rate to carrying capacity? For a lot of clients, their rolling 12-month rainfall is still quite low and is highly likely to remain like that until next summer. Lower rainfall combined with an extensive dry period grows less grass. Don't buy animals unless you know you've got the feed to do the job.
- David is chairman of consulting and education company RCS Australia. www.rcsaustralia.com.au 1800 356 004