Analysis

West needs rain while south east floods

By Ken Wilcock
January 18 2022 - 11:00pm
DRY: To the west of Blackall and in patches around Winton and Boulia heat is becoming an issue particularly for cows with baby calves and as a fire risk with temperatures climbing into the high 40s and bodies of feed drying off.

HEARING harrowing stories of flooding at Maryborough and other areas in south east Queensland it is hard to imagine that there are parts of the state that are desperately in need of a good soaking.

But that is very much the case to the west of Blackall and in patches around Winton and Boulia as agents Tim Ludgate and Tom Brodie explained to me this week.

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In the Blackall region the haves and have-nots are separated by a line running from Emmett up to Isisford, Barcaldine and Aramac with the more fortunate to the east of the line and the less fortunate to the west.

The east had a very good start in November with falls ranging from 100 to 300 millimetres. But west of the line the falls were patchy and some of the heavy Downs country remains in a very ordinary state.

At Winton some areas had a good early start with 150-200mm but others have had no more than 50-100mm so far.

Worryingly, six weeks or more has elapsed since the early start and the weather changes now are not coming through from the west as they did in October/November.

Observers in Tom's area have commented that storms coming up from the south/south-east are not a pattern associated with good general rain.

But there is time for it to come as now to the end of March is normal wet season for the region.

In the meantime, heat is becoming an issue particularly for cows with baby calves and as a fire risk with temperatures climbing into the high 40s and bodies of feed drying off.

While contemplating what the rest of summer might have in store, people are still getting their heads around the extreme prices cattle are making.

This is playing a part in the wider question of the need or desire to rebuild herd numbers.

With what is thought to be a very low incidence of completely destocked properties, there should be a reasonable level of satisfaction with the money being made from stock on hand.

As well it has been a very ordinary run of seasons since 2012 especially on the Downs country and people want to give it a chance to recover.

While contemplating what the rest of summer might have in store, people are still getting their heads around the extreme prices cattle are making. This is playing a part in the wider question of the need or desire to rebuild herd numbers.

Both agents agreed that a combination of the risk factor inherent in extraordinarily high replacement values and stewardship of the land is likely resulting in a conservative attitude to herd rebuilding.

Traders, on the other hand, were likely to remain active in the market.

It's probably safe to say that in regard to the two years since the market took off in January 2020 there has never been an equivalent period when the risk was lower and the return higher.

That has led to a surge in money being spent on infrastructure.

Tim said it was noticeable that people were back doing fencing, waters and sheds and tidying up the homesteads.

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On the production side, the central west was always an important contributor of grass-fed slaughter cattle but now it seems only the odd person is still doing bullocks and a number of people are holding back older cows to get another calf.

Of the traditional bullock fatteners, most instead have turned to selling into the feeder market and in a dry season pulling back to selling weaners.

As has so often happened with seasons failing, getting those dry cattle off has helped get the core breeders through.

What there is to come forward as fats will likely show up around May.

In the meantime sales at the Blackall saleyards are scheduled to resume on February 10.

Return-to-work exemptions draw angry response

A STAFFING issue at Naracoorte abattoir last week has attracted angry sentiment directed toward Teys Australia and resulted in brief suspension of operations and high-profile customer Woolworths temporarily withdrawing from supply arrangements at the site.

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Statements sighted on Twitter accounts accused Teys of forcing COVID-19 positive staff to work.

A response posted on Teys' website on January 15 stated, "Contrary to misleading claims made in the public domain, no worker has been, or will be, forced to work if they are unwell. In fact, we are specifically instructing our workers not to present for work if they feel unwell or they do not meet the strict requirements of the relevant state health authorities."

Further clarification was posted on January 17, which set out the return to work exemptions approved by SA Health. These included:

  • Any employee who has tested positive via a PCR or RAT must have met a minimum of seven days in isolation, be feeling well and asymptomatic to be eligible for return to work under the SA Health exemption protocol.
  • Each employee's exemption is individually managed by SA Health and is subject to checks and verification by SA Police.
  • Any employee who has tested positive either via PCR or RAT and has not met the minimum seven-day isolation requirement or is not feeling well is not eligible for work and will remain in isolation.
  • Those essential workers who are eligible for an exemption are working entirely separately from other workers and must return home immediately after their shift is complete.

No protracted delay is expected to resumption of Woolworths' supply arrangements.

Uncertainty pulls rates back

WITH uncertainty surrounding meatworks staffing levels due to COVID, grid rates, where they are being quoted in southern Qld, are limited to just two weeks with only space bookings after that.

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One of the majors is not quoting at the moment leaving indicative rates at 815c/kg for 100-day 4-tooth ox, 780c for 4-tooth grass ox and 720c for heavy cow.

Overseas, a large quantity of Brazilian beef was cleared through US customs at the beginning of the year from bonded storage claiming 17 per cent of the 65,000t MFN quota.

Other specific-nation US quotas including Australia are at just 1pc utilisation.

90CL Aust/NZ blended cow recovered US 4c/lb to 298c/lb FOB US East Coast.

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