Desperate need for steady rain

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WA’s Mid West pastoralist Rex Ward, of Melrose and Lake Violet stations, 85km north of Wiluna, is facing his third consecutive dry season and says times are desperate for local cattle producers.

“Although we are receiving kind donations of hay, cattle numbers have had to decrease in this region,” he said.

“We used to sell 40 decks of cattle per year, and last year we only managed 12 decks.”

Mr Ward, who farms with his wife Norma and their son Chris and his wife Carolyn, relies on wet season rains for pastoral growth to bring their calves up to weight for a feedlot finish into the live export trade to the Middle East.

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“We run a trucking side-business, which keeps us going, but for those producers who rely totally on their cattle income, things must be critical,” he said.

“We are experiencing one of the driest seasons in our 42 years of running the stations and desperately need good steady rainfall to turn things around.”

Mr Ward said most of his time was feeding cattle and checking on windmills.

“There has been a lack of wind for pumping water, but we have backup solar power, but still some wells have gone dry, which hasn’t happened since 1983,” he said.

Mr Ward, who regularly buys bulls at Narngulu, particularly Droughtmasters, said he may just have a look-in this year, but was not planning on buying.

Further north, between Broome and Port Hedland, Anna Plains pastoralist David Stoate said the wet season had been well below average.

Mr Stoate, who runs a breeding herd of 10,000 Brahman cattle, said this year had been the driest since 2005.

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