PACKED YARDS: Cattle farmers like Miss Richter head to the yards to sell up their last few head.
PACKED YARDS: Cattle farmers like Miss Richter head to the yards to sell up their last few head.

Drought’s unusual and devastating effect on region’s cattle

AS DROUGHT in the Southern Downs enters yet another summer, cattle farmers are bearing the brunt in more ways that they could ever expect.

Struggling to keep a hold of stock and afford feed, Emu Vale cattle producer Caitlin Richter has also seen the toll hit breeding mothers as they birth bigger calves in a last-ditch attempt to ensure their young survive.

“We haven’t had a lot of calves birth at the moment but the last ones were all throwing really big calves,” Miss Richter said

“We’ve heard it’s because of the dry, they put everything into their calves.”

It had meant an usual joy in arming had become another burden for Miss Richter.

“We lost a cow calving, because her calf was way too big and we’ve pulled a few calves. It’s been hard.”

Miss Richter moved to the region eight years ago because of its prime farming land, but her backyard is unrecognisable these days.

“When we moved it was beautiful and green and now there’s not a scrap of green in the place,” she said.

“Our creek has a few holes down the bottom but that’s all. We haven’t seen it that dry before.”

Even last weekend’s rain failed to make a dent in the land and Miss Richter expected she would need a lot more to get back on her feet after destocking by half.

“We would need four inches before it did anything,” she said.

“Where the grass was watered it’s a little bit greener but other than that, it won’t do anything.”

For Miss Richter, farming was a passion she had come to late in life and the idea of giving it up broke her heart.,

“What can you do, you don’t want to part with them,” she said. “We don’t think about it (giving up). We can’t. We keep hoping.”



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