Cattle ranchers in Northern Australia have had to resort to shooting their cattle because they just can’t feed or sell them.
The drought and the smaller live export trade has been blamed for the current conditions that cattle ranchers find themselves in. One of Australia’s largest beef producers was quoted as saying that the industry has little choice but to shoot cattle.
Beef industry leaders have been warning this would happen. Over summer, much of northern Australia didn’t receive traditional monsoonal rain. That meant grass didn’t grow, so in parts, there’s nothing for cattle to eat.
North west Queensland grazier Malcolm McClymont says conditions are worse than the 1974 world beef price collapse.
Sisters Chanelle and Debra run a cattle station in northern Australia and say they’ve shot weak and sick cattle that don’t have food to eat. “It’s very hard when you’re counting down to the last cent and you’re looking at it and saying ‘I can’t feed that cow because I can’t afford it’,” Chanelle said.
“If they haven’t got any food or no quality of water, are you just going to let it die a slow death of three or four days in a paddock, with the crows and the eagles picking their eyes out?” Debra said. “Or, do you take the bullet, put it in your gun, pull the trigger?”
There are hundreds of northern Australian cattle producers who say their pain was avoidable. They blame the Federal Government’s 2011 live cattle export suspension with Indonesia, a trade that’s plunged into decline since that decision.