After enduring devastating drought conditions for more than a year, north Queensland cattle producers will be closely watching the path of Tropic Cyclone Dylan and subsequent rainfall, with current forecast for the system to hit Townsville early Friday morning, and continue inland to western Queensland over the weekend.
While there has been some patchy rainfall across most of the north over the course of January, the aggregate volume is well-below what is normally received for what is usually the wettest month of the year – accentuated by drought conditions since late 2012. As such, the breadth and time the system takes to work across Queensland in the coming week will be crucial, with initial forecasts for around 100mm for some inland regions – a much needed start to replenishing massive rainfall deficits (with hopefully much more rain to follow for all of Queensland in February and March).
Cattle throughout at saleyards declined dramatically this week, largely a result of the shortened trading week and producer apprehension to sell at current price levels. Indeed, last week’s eastern states cattle slaughter was the highest January total on record, as the rapidly deteriorating conditions continue to see large supplies being sent directly to processors.
Sheep and lamb throughput also declined significantly this week, which combined with some showers in Victoria and southern NSW, assisted a continuation of last week’s price improvements. However, another heat wave across southern Australia for the week ahead will most likely quickly evaporate any benefit from last week’s falls.The national heavy lamb indicator closed Thursday up 33¢, at 473¢/kg cwt.