Thursday , January 21 2021

Australia's biggest cattle company announces massive cattle losses in Qld floods – ABC Rural

Australia's largest pastoral company says it has lost thousands of cattle in unprecedented flooding, including almost 30,000 head on one of its Gulf of Carpentaria stations alone.

The Australian Agricultural Company (AAC) runs more than half a million cattle across 24 stations and feedlots in Queensland and the Northern Territory to broad and fattened stock for export consumption.

WARNING: This article contains photos that readers may find distressing.

In a statement to the Australia Stock Exchange, AACo said its 2,500 square kilometers Wondoola station, 130km south of Normanton, had experienced its highest flood levels ever, forcing the evacuation of station staff from the property to water to the buildings of buildings.

The property is located between the Flinders and Saxby Rivers, where breeding cattle usually graze the floodplain grasses that naturally grow after a wet season.

Last week, the Flinders River broke both its banks, and its rainfall records, when hundreds of millimeters of rain fell within several days, upstream of the station.

AACo managing director, Hugh Killen said the losses of cows and calves had been extreme.

"Wondoola is at the epicenter of flooding in the Gulf right now, as the station is in the deepest and widest part of the impacted area," Mr Killen said.

"We'll see what happens over the coming days and weeks, but it looks ugly for those cattle."

Large stock losses have been recorded across the company's other gulf stations: Canobie, Dalgonally, and Carrum.

Mr Killen said those three properties had a record of approximately 50,000 head of mainly composite cows and their calves and were expected to be lower than still material.

"We haven't published the breakdown of numbers across these three properties, but it's been pretty tough on Dalgonally," he said.

"Unlike Wondoola, the water came up to our buildings at Dalgonally but not through them, so we haven't had inundation on our infrastructure."

With staff from Wondoola Station, as well as nearby Canobie, Dalgonally, and Curram safe, Mr Killen said, attention would now turn to keeping remaining cattle alive.

"Prior to the flood we had a significant number of helicopters and fodder on hand, so we could get to the area early on and feed out to cattle," he said.

In the statement to the stock exchange AACo said that its losses were significant and that the overall impact on the company's financial earnings was expected to be material, and management would work through an evaluation of the situation.

It also said the current operating conditions were not expected to affect the company's ability to fulfill its supply bonds or the rollout of its branded strategy, which would continue to be a key focus.

Stock losses won't define us, says AACo boss

Mr Killen said the closure of his abattoir in the Northern Territory last year had put the company in a better position to withstand the current crisis.

"That was an asset that was challenging for us, so having a focus on what we are able to focus on the issue we have on hand," he said.

"While this tragedy is unfolding in the Gulf, it's going to have an impact on the company, it won't define us."

Mr. Killen said the conduct of the company's staff during this disaster had been inspiring.

"To get up there and see the way those guys are reacting to something that is not only very dangerous to their livelihoods, but the fortitude and stoicism is quite extraordinary," he said.

"It 's also worth the support we have received from our neighbors and the community.

"As soon as we get ourselves cleaned up we will be helping people around us."

The loss of cattle in the wider Gulf region was expected to be as high as 300,000 head.

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