Feed uncertainty on KI forces livestock sales

KI fires: Uncertain feed future forces 'disappointing' sales

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DECISION TIME: Daniel Haby and Ebony Bruce, Parndana, assessing what cattle they could keep on Monday.

DECISION TIME: Daniel Haby and Ebony Bruce, Parndana, assessing what cattle they could keep on Monday.

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Parndana East cattle producer Daniel Haby has become an unwilling seller after two simultaneous fires went through his property on January 9.

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PARNDANA East cattle producer Daniel Haby has become an unwilling seller after two simultaneous fires went through his property on January 9.

"We had one fire come from the north and one come from the east," he said.

"Both winds were blowing into each other, which just didn't make any sense."

Mr Haby stayed to defend his property, which became a risky choice.

"I didn't want to go in the shed as I wanted to watch what was going on and put out spot fires," he said.

"But then it got too hot, so I quickly hosed down a nearby mulberry bush and sheltered under that."

Daniel Haby with the mulberry bush he took shelter under as the Ravine fire went through his Parndana East property.

Daniel Haby with the mulberry bush he took shelter under as the Ravine fire went through his Parndana East property.

Mr Haby said it took about 10 minutes for the firestorm to pass, in which he lost 250 rolls of hay and silage, a cow, farm machinery and equipment and about 70 per cent of his pastures.

The uncertainty surrounding feed availability has since forced Mr Haby to make arrangements to destock their 150-head Angus herd.

"We don't have the time to feed out, plus I don't want the land to degradate," he said.

Mr Haby said 50 of their younger breeding stock would be kept on-farm, but the rest had to go.

"Luckily we have farmers in the Mid North willing to donate hay, so it's easier to truck the cattle to the feed than the other way around," he said.

"We will send 20 pregnancy-tested in-calf heifers on agistment, but we will have to sell our older breeders.

"Our weaners will be sent to the feedlot, while the heifers will end up going live export.

"It's disappointing as we would have loved to have kept our heifers to mate them and turned those steers into a saleable product rather than just selling them to a feedlot."

Mr Haby said the recent softening of the market made it not the best time to sell.

"Some of the cows are being sold on-hooks and they're only making $4.40 a kilogram carcaseweight - I sold some a month ago and made $5/kgcwt," Mr Haby said.

"But it has to be done.

"I can't rely on chance when it comes to hay, there's a lot of unknowns with the quality and quantity of hay available and I don't want to wait and have the cattle lose any condition."

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