Cadoux rains preserve flock

Rueben HaleThe West Australian
Cadoux farmer Bryce Macnamara says the downpours of rain in the last week will mean they will keep their sheep.
Camera IconCadoux farmer Bryce Macnamara says the downpours of rain in the last week will mean they will keep their sheep. Credit: Rueben Hale

Cadoux farmer Bryce Macnamara says last week’s solid rains will mean no more sheep will be headed for the saleyards.

The town, like many parts of the northern Wheatbelt, had faced a challenging growing season with well-below average rainfall recorded since experiencing good summer rains.

Last week’s downpours, which resulted in double-digit rainfall in many parts of rain-deprived northern and eastern areas, meant farmers there now did not have to sell hungry sheep.

For Mr Macnamara, who farms with his wife Amanda, 2017 will be a season best forgotten with a big proportion of the family’s early sown crops failed, and the majority of the farm’s 5000 mated ewes agisted or sold.

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Before the latest rains, the family had no pasture to feed the sheep and was relying on left-over grain from the previous year for animal nourishment.

“I want to break even, but I don’t think we are going to,” Mr Macnamara said. “If prices remain high, with wool and lamb markets staying where they are is helpful.”

Mr Macnamara said after months of no rain, they were happy not to have been forced to sell sheep from the original flock.

“We are confident of getting the ewes back for joining in good condition,” he said. “We won’t have the feed to finish them as we would like to but we would be willing to sell the lambs for $70 to $80 a head to the airfreight market.”

Mr Macnamara said without the rain he would have been forced eventually to halve his breeders.

“The wet ewes would have either been sold or put on agistment because we wouldn’t have had the feed, and it is going to be a long summer no matter what happens from now,” he said.

“The younger lambs would have gone airfreight and everything else to the butchers.”

Meat and Livestock Australia says the seasonal conditions will fuel uncertainty for the sheep and lamb market, with a continued strong market reliant on favourable seasonal conditions and feed availability coming into spring.

Prices had already begun to suffer from increased numbers of sheep turned off, causing the national trade lamb indicator to lose 93 cents from where it started in June, to 579c/kg carcase weight (cwt). Since then, it bounced back to 630c/kg cwt mid-July, finishing the month averaging 580c/kg cwt.

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