I've lived through more than one drought...
thanks for those nuggets of wisdom, truly "priceless" as someone mentioned. i'm on to it, sending a bale of hay and yr instrucions to Troy Dan now.
Agriculture is diverse in the way that you may have millions of hectares of pretty feral country and in these areas choppers have become invaluable and indeed perhaps the use of dogs and horses has declined. Chopper pilots, ringers etc were always a certain breed of person, I think you need to be in what can be a very dangerous occupation where a wrong decision can kill you.
In these areas there has been a tendency to breed for less feral cattle and handling systems have changed to a degree.
Where I live which is large broadacre sheep and wheat, we are experiencing some mind numbing droughts and indeed thousands of sheep have just been destocked. Farmers also are tending to use dogs more in the yards than paddocks these days. My breeder friend says most of his enquiries are for yard dogs. So yes there is probably an attrition of the old ways and a loss of elements of the old style dogs and stockmen as times change and the generational mindsets change. I enjoyed reading Tully Williams book about the raising and training of working dogs and his take on the attrition of dog genetics and handling skills.
I still think there is plenty of dog knowledge and good dogs around but certainly agriculture has been facing changing times. Livestock has declined with the many challenges it has and continues to face, but agriculture is often cyclical by nature.
Last edited by Kalacreek; 07-26-2013 at 10:04 AM.
thanks for a reasoned response. in the north much of the land is marginal at best, ie very low stocking rates. traditionally input costs were very low with many of the workers actually and literally born under a tree on the properties. input costs and the loss of the traditional stockmen have made profit margins low at the best of times hence many practices that are seen in most other places are useless and the only cattle that can survive after decades of experiments are the one most prone to become feral.
these places can't have much infrastructure cos they are underwater for 3 months of the year and a few feet undegorund the geo-physics is such that water does not drain away but after so much rain the water comes back up and the crappy soil liquifies. what stock movement that is available is along patchy sand ridges. fences are useless as they are either washed away or stock will just be drowned behind them or starve to death on the sand ridges.
the stock migrate for great distances determined by the seasons or die.
any methods used for management are unique to the local areas, dogs have a role, as do choppers, motorbikes, horses, atv's.....
Sometimes the pastoral northern cattle come down to be processed through feedlots and are backgrounded before entering the feedlots on agricultural farms. The local farmers generally dont like taking cattle from the North because they have notoriosly no respect for fences and are difficult to handle. The feedlotters try and source from pastoral properties that have quieter cattle.
I think certainly over here low input systems are very high on the agenda across the board, the predictable seasons of the past seem to have gone on holiday.
That last post made so much more sense. I like it.
I noticed during a 4WD trip in the Snowies in April - that all the cattle preferred to travel on the roads. Same with the feral horses. And in the Great Victoria Desert - if you spooked a camel - it would run along the road and stay on the road and run till it collapsed if you kept chasing it (we had some people thinking they could overtake or force it off the road - that was assuming it was still thinking). Quickest way to get camel off the road was to stop and get out and all the people move out to the right - and the camel would follow you off the road and to the right - parallel. And then you could get back in and proceed along the now clear road. This backfired one time when we stopped behind a mob of female camels and calves - and our people mob went out from both sides of the road (toilet breaks) so the camels did the same, which didn't help.
I think up north - there are a lot of gigantic agriculture businesses - and unless they can stop their workers with knowledge nicking off to the mines - there's a constant influx of new people who have to learn how it all works - from scratch - again and again.
Things changed a lot across the outback stations - when the rule came in that they had to pay their aboriginal workers. Now some of the stations have been handed over to the aboriginals - with varying degrees of success (in terms of producing product to market) - but I think they're getting better at it.
The thing that divides cattle country from sheep country is how far a beast can travel between water supplies. You manage the water supply, you catch all the cattle... you only need to fence that bit - at muster time (dry).
i think i know what you are talking about, a guy around winton where the only water is water put there by humans ie bores/troughs, he builds big spear traps that cattle walk thru all year and at mustering time he closes them a bit so they go in and not out. mustering means close the traps one day and then drive a truck out another day with a portable ramp and load them on, seems like cheeting.
Cheating - I guess it's not as much fun as choppers and those jeeps with the bull catcher thingies on them but it's way less stressful and dangerous - for the cattle at least. And they taste better if they're not stressed and bruised when they die.
And keeping the human workers safe and whole keeps the costs down too.
I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be that hard to rig a system that opens a gate as the cattle approach from one side, but not the other. ... like a valve.
agree totally that stressed out cattle lose weight = less dollars not to mention the ethical aspects of stressed animals. i only caught the tail end of it but when labor was effectively free the weaners were "tailed" for months on end, ie just basically kept in loose groups and grazed under supervision of stockmen on horses night and day in open country, the labor costs for that now would mean by the time they got to market you would have spent more money on them than what you would get at the point of sale, not good economics if you want to stay in business another day.
There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)