What a crazy roller-coaster of a ride we have had over the past few months. The biggest decision we have ever made as a family was deciding to sell our western properties. We still love our cattle...very much...and hubby and I will continue to run our Droughtmaster Stud. Son and DIL would like to move a bit closer to the coast. Rising costs in cattle freight have made that decision quite easy. So, the three properties went to auction on the 1st May. One of the places sold and we are still in discussions regarding the remaining two but it is looking like we will be hanging on to them for this year at least.
The 2014 wet season in the west was not what we were hoping for with most graziers saying that they have only had about 80% of a season. We would agree with that. We have been trying to sell young females so that we will have enough grass for our breeding herd, but once again prices are ridiculous, that is, if you can find a buyer. Cows last week at Mareeba sold for 50c kg and store steers at Charters Towers made just 20c kg. Of course you still can't buy a kilo of meat at the butcher for under $8 kg. Once again we are being screwed over by the middle man.
Over the past couple of months a Senate Enquiry into the livestock industry has been travelling all over Australia to talk to graziers about the state of the industry and what can be done about it. One of the graziers from Hughenden told the enquiry that he (and everybody else) is receiving the same price for his cattle that he received in 1990. The enquiry asked how he was surviving. He said it's like this. In 1990 he employed a number of ringers to help with the cattle work, I think he said 6, and today they are all gone and he runs his property with just family members. He now has one (1) man per 2000 head of cattle. We are in exactly the same boat.
We can't do much about the price we receive for our cattle....price takers, not price makers....so we have to reduce our overheads and unfortunately increase the overdraft. Average farm debt in Australia at the moment is $2m.
We can, to a certain degree, increase profits by working on herd fertility. Gone are the days when a cow gave us a calf every two years and we were happy. She now has to give us a calf every year or she is out the back door. Indeed, she has to give us a calf in a 6 week window or she is out the back door!
But all is not doom and gloom. We, as a family are happy and healthy. We love the love we live and will meet any new challenge front on.