2015 was the driest year yet for Targinnie farmer

RAIN DAZE: Calliope cattle farmer Will Wilson has to transfer his cattle to feed lots because there’s no grass for them to eat.
RAIN DAZE: Calliope cattle farmer Will Wilson has to transfer his cattle to feed lots because there’s no grass for them to eat. Helen Spelitis

THERE is an old farmer's saying that it always rains after a long, dry spell.

But for Charlie Prizeman - who now runs 40 head of cattle at Targinnie - 2015 was one of the driest years he has seen in his 79 years.

"We've had average wet seasons for the last three years and last year we got bugger-all rain," he said.

"It's a green desert out there, which means the grass looks green but there's no body to it.

"You'd have to give each cow a pair of tweezers to eat it."

In the 1940s and 50s Mr Prizeman said farmers used to be able to rely on "show rain" in June, storms from the end of October to December and the wet season starting in January.

"It was dry all year and last June we didn't get anything," Mr Prizeman said. He attributed the bad year to the poor levels of rain farmers received at Targinnie in 2014 because "that's when you get the growth".

"Because of 2014 there's no grass to eat," he said.

Although Mr Prizeman will hold on to his cattle because they are a special breed of white brahman, cattle farmers such as Will Wilson, from Calliope Station, are faced with a conundrum: ride out the dry spell or take advantage of the new weighing station at Raglan that transports cattle to Townsville for live export.

Overseas markets such as China and Vietnam prefer leaner cattle than the Australian market, which likes big, fatty steaks, and this could assist Queensland farmers whose cattle are not fat enough for sale now.

"At the start of last year it wasn't too bad," Mr Wilson said.

"But we've seen some very hot months, which has knocked it about and my country looks like it's had a crew cut."

Mr Wilson said his cattle were in good condition but "could be better".

"Right now I'm transferring them to a feed lot because I can't finish them on the grass," he said.

"They're not about to drop dead but the grass isn't growing."

Mr Wilson said a lot of farmers would use the Raglan weighing station to sell their stock.

Comparing 2015 to 2013 total rainfall

  • Hazeldean (Calliope) - 932mm; 2013: 1630.6mm
  • Lowmead - 894.8mm; 2013: 1631.8mm
  • Seventeen Seventy - 1008.3mm; 2013: 1524.6mm
  • Gladstone - 685.2; 2013: 1446.4mm

Topics:  drought farm farming rain weather

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