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Will we see more bullocks come out of the channel country this year?

Eric Barker, 12/02/2024

Flooding at Kynuna Station homestead on the headwaters of the Diamantina catchment. Photo: Twitter/X

IN THE wake of ex-tropical cyclone Kirrily bringing big rain to parts of north-west Queensland, flooding is starting to head south towards the channel country.

Beef Central understands the main flood is going down the Diamantina River after more than 500mm fell in some areas between McKinlay and Kynuna, which flooded the Blue Heeler Hotel and NAPCo’s Kynuna Station homestead.

The storm then headed further west and dumped some big falls east of Boulia, with that water also heading down the Diamantina.

A smaller flood is going down the Georgina River, which had some rain out of Kirrily. Other river systems in the eastern part of the channel country, including the Cooper Creek and the Thompson River have reportedly missed out on floods.

Most rivers in the channel country flooded last year and many have remarked at the run of good seasons the area has had, which is known for its prime grass fattening potential.

One source with good knowledge of the area said it looked like another good flood was heading down the Diamantina River.

“There are a lot of elements to these floods, we always used to look at size of flood and length of flood to determine if it was going to be a good season or not. We used to say a flood needed to be one metre over the bridge at Monkira for one month to be a good flood,” the source said.

“The river is currently 1.3m over the bridge at Monkira, there is still a lot of water at Diamantina Lakes, which has to go through Davenport Downs. So, the Diamantina looks like a good flood, but we will have to wait and see how long it stays up.

“The Georgina isn’t too big, it looks like it will stay in the channels, but it goes into some of these big lakes – which will be a good thing.”

Will we see more bullocks?

For a long time, the channel country was known for turning off large runs of bullocks on the back of floods like the current.

But recent decades have seen some of the big corporates operating in the area, using it for backgrounding steers to go into feedlot programs. Paraway’s Davenport Downs and NAPCo’s Monkira are both used for this reason and are in line for flooding from the Diamantina.

“I think you will find some of those big companies will be quite agile if they get a second season in a row and they might take some animals past 400kg,” Beef Central was told.

“There are some places downstream which are into organics and probably had plans to run bullocks will have some good turn off from this rain.”

A livestock agent was also asked if he thought there might be some more bullocks coming out of the channel country this year as a result of the floods.

While he remarked at the patchy nature of the flooding, he said it was hard to see any major shift away from backgrounding programs.

“It is hard to say whether some of those companies will grow bullocks, I suspect a big flood might mean some of the backgrounding cattle will turn into bullocks before the stations can get to them,” he said.

“But it is hard to imagine anyone making a big statement to move into bullock production this year.”

The agent said it was unclear how beneficial the Diamantina flood was going to be.

“The Diamantina had a really good flood last year, but I don’t know whether the feed was as good as we thought it was going to be when the river was running,” he said.

“It goes to that old saying that ‘every flood is different’, so we will have to wait and see what will grow from the floods.

“Most of the country along the Diamantina is owned by the corporates, but I have been speaking some people out there who thinks flood will set them up very well.”

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