Selling stock is tough but right

CHANGE OF SCENE: Jayde and Ben Chandler from Barcaldine relish a green change of scene on their bull-buying trip to the Southern Downs.
CHANGE OF SCENE: Jayde and Ben Chandler from Barcaldine relish a green change of scene on their bull-buying trip to the Southern Downs. Toni Somes

IT IS a story that echoes with familiarity for far too many Southern Downs landholders: drought stricken, destocking and desperately holding onto hope it rains...soon.

This week, the Bush Tele caught up with Ben and Jayde Chandler, who run a 40,500 hectares (100,000 acres in the old-scale) cattle property south of Barcaldine in the states's central west.

The couple was savouring a short reprieve from their parched property Gregory Park, on a bull buying trip to the 2013 Santa Central Bull Sale at Clifton on behalf of family members, who have been more fortunate in terms of rain.

"Devastating" was how the Chandlers described the drought's impact on their home country, where they had measured just 250mm (or 10 inches) since March last year.

"We normally have a 20 inch annual rainfall," Mrs Chandler explained.

"This year, we had four inches in February and we haven't had any rain since.

"So we're thankful we have bores for stock water.

"But in terms of feed, the ground is pretty much bare."

The situation has become so dire, the couple sold 3000 head - including this year's weaners - leaving just a core breeder herd of 2000 head.

"It is a tough decision, because that is your income for the next few years," Mr Chandler said.

"But if you don't have feed, you can't hold onto stock.

"We made the call to sell this year's weaners two months ago and I believe it was the right decision.

"But I don't think there is any point complaining.

"The reality is, when you live in the bush, for every good season you get a few dry ones and that is where we are at the moment."

But Mr Chandler said the situation was compounded when so much of the state was in the same situation.

"About 80% of Queensland is now drought-declared and that limits your options when it comes to either selling or agisting your stock," he said.

"For us personally, this is about four or five inches off being the worst season in the history of our property.

"So, like most of the state, we would really like to see some widespread, good rain."

On a brighter note the couple said escaping south to buy at the annual Santa Central Sale was a welcome break.

"This sale is always well organised and the bulls on offer are really well prepared and great quality," Mr Chandler said.

"So, it's definitely good to get down here."

Mr Chandler said he was in the market for quality bulls for family members on the western side of Barcaldine - an area that had benefited from good rain this season.

Topics:  cattle drought livestock livestock sales

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