Six things to remember to help ride out the current drought event

Beef Central, 12/11/2013


Terry McCoskerTo say that 2013 has been a challenging year for most parts of Northern Australia is a vast understatement.

In order to help ride things out, Resource Consulting Services founder, Terry McCosker, has prepared the following list of six things to remember during the current crisis.

“Remember it is not the situation, but how you react, that counts,” Mr McCosker says…





1.     Take time out. It is critical to take the pressure off, even if only for a few days.

Grab a weekend and go somewhere nice. Taking a break from the grind, from the look of the stock and landscape, in a mental break from the pressure. We all need pressure release, so it is a good idea to mix with people who are not in a drought and where the conversation topic will not come up.

2.     The last drop of water on the property should go on the garden.

It is vitally important for wellbeing that we have an oasis to go back to each night. It is important for mental health and general wellbeing to that the first thing you see in the morning and the last thing you see at night is a pleasant surrounding and some green.

3.     If your waters will stand it, combine herds and start rotating them, but do it with at least 100 day rest period.

There is real magic in moving stock into rested country. They find something fresh, even if it is only leaf fall. The worst outcome for both stock and land is to throw all the gates open. Stock attitude also suffers in a drought when they have trouble finding anything fresh. Putting them together and moving them to different paddocks is like us going to a smorgasbord where there is not much we would like to eat. At least we have a choice, even if limited, and it is freshened up every so often. If there was one mob going through ten paddocks, 90pc of the land would be resting, which dramatically increases the speed and degree of recovery, with any rainfall event.

4.     Radically wean to take the pressure off poor cows.

It is far cheaper to feed a small calf than a cow/calf unit. Feed them the right ration and follow the rules when you do it, though. Weaning more than halves the stocking rate in a cow/calf mob, before selling any cull cows, so is the quickest way to adjust the stocking rate. On the other hand, the smallest animal has a lower maintenance requirement and therefore has a more cost-effective feed conversion ratio. However feeding small weaners (60 to 120kg) requires the correct ration and very clean water. Weaning takes the pressure off the cows and improves survival rate.

5.     Communicate with the banks.

They know there is a drought on, but they do not like surprises. I have discussed this issue with many bank managers and they all say the same thing. They can only help people who help themselves. A good rule of thumb is “If you can see a crisis coming, precipitate it”. This means that if you can see months before it is due, that you will miss a payment date because of the prices and stock condition, don’t spend months worrying about something you cannot change, but get straight onto the bank with a proactive proposal on how you intend to deal with it.

6.     Get any subsidy available, especially the water one.

If you have feed somewhere on the place but no water, this subsidy might provide the opportunity to remedy it. I am more in favour of being proactive, having a good drought plan, destocking based on a set of principles decided when not under pressure, than I am of adding to debt via drought relief funding. However, assuming we got caught out this once, then it makes sense to use the $20,000 Drought Relief Assistance Scheme grant to help with expenses and use the Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate to set up a long-term asset such as water. Beef Central had a good outline of assistance available on this on October 22 (click here to view).


  • Resource Consulting Services will conduct its 236th GrazingforProfit school in Townsville starting on Wednesday November 27. RCS has worked with more than 5500 producers across Australia since 1989 as part of its GrazingforProfit program. So confident is RCS that participants will find significant value in the course that it offers a money back guarantee on the course value. Click here to find out more.


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