The Grazier's balancing act

The Grazier's balancing act

Beef
THE GRAZIER: Taroom's Nicky Poole captured this moment, as her father Doug contemplated ongoing drought on their Central Queensland property last year. They have now had good rain and are looking towards the rebuild.

THE GRAZIER: Taroom's Nicky Poole captured this moment, as her father Doug contemplated ongoing drought on their Central Queensland property last year. They have now had good rain and are looking towards the rebuild.

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Recovery of country to take precedent at Taroom beef operation.

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LIKE all beef producers who've welcomed rain in the past month after a long run of shockingly dry conditions, Doug Poole has a fair job ahead of balancing the desire to rebuild quickly with the need for cash flow and the need to allow country time to recover.

For the second generation Central Queensland grazier, it's the latter that will take precedent because that's what he believes will set the foundations for future prosperity in the cattle business.

Three consecutive years minus a wet season forced a 200 breeder sell-off last August.

Now the Taroom property, Burnley, that Mr Poole operates with wife Kathy is looking picturesque.

It has received 330mm of consistent rain since mid-January. That's more than what was received for the entire of last year on country that has a typical annual rainfall of 660mm.

Mr Poole described this drought as the worst he'd seen in his time.

It was just starting to turn bad when this photo was taken last year by his daughter Nicky, a self-taught photographer who works for Elders in town during the week and on the cattle property at weekends.

Titled 'The Grazier', it was one of the front runners in the Australian Community Media 100 Stories of Hope photo competition.

Ms Poole explained she had convinced her father to pose for some photographs that would serve as a basis for her mother, a pastel and pencil work artist, to base a piece on.

He'd been riding and walking among the stock but it was when he decided to take a break and "just watch the cattle" that the perfect shot came.

For his part, Mr Poole remembers well that it was lack of rain on his mind.

He produces feed-on steers, typically turned off as two-year-olds at 350 to 400 kilograms. Charolais, Murray Grey and Droughtmaster bulls are used over a Brahman herd.

Heifers not kept to breed on are sold as weaners through the store market or in the paddock.

As things went downhill last year, the Pooles attempted to hold numbers and buy in feed but had to sell breeders when they couldn't access enough hay.

They are keen to be back in full swing, encouraged by strong fundamentals in the cattle business, but also cautious.

"I've never before seen the market jump as hard and fast as it is now - it's been astronomical," Mr Poole said.

"We'll leave things as they are for a bit and let the country recover and see how the market goes.

"I'd prefer to trade cattle for a couple of years and breed our way back up."

Mr Poole said everyone in his region was feeding something last year and many had also had to lighten off.

Now most have had rain, although some are a good 130mm behind Burnley.

SEE ALSO: Only trade if you're cut out for it, cattle producers told

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The story The Grazier's balancing act first appeared on Farm Online.

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