NO TURNING BACK: Murphys Creek grazier Peter McPaul says he will be forced to shoot his cattle, with the cost of hay to high and the cattle in too poor a condition to sell at auction. Picture: Pixali Photography
NO TURNING BACK: Murphys Creek grazier Peter McPaul says he will be forced to shoot his cattle, with the cost of hay to high and the cattle in too poor a condition to sell at auction. Picture: Pixali Photography

I need a man with a gun: Farmer won’t watch cattle starve

FOR 10 years, Murphys Creek grazier Peter McPaul has run cattle on his land, but the that time has come to an end.

With the drought continuing to grip the region, Mr McPaul's daily life has revolved around sourcing cheap hay to keep his droughtmaster herd alive and carting it to his 128-acre property.

But with one dam just mud and the other nothing more than a puddle, as well as hay prices continuing to soar - he simply can't do it anymore.

Unable to even afford feed, he said there was simply no way he could afford to send them to the saleyards, as once the transport, auctioneer and registration fees were paid - he'd lose money to sell them off.

That's money he doesn't have.

He said the only option was to put them down humanely, and bury their bodies on his land.

"They're too skinny (to sell)," Mr McPaul said.

"I can't sit here and watch them starve … I need an excavator to dig a hole so we can bury them."

The heart-breaking decision has been a long time coming.

He once ran 30 breeders on his land, but now he's left with just 11, which are barely hanging on.

Recent increases in the land valuation by the Department of Natural Resources and the associated rate increases have also taken a financial toll.

Mr McPaul said once his cattle were gone, there would be no coming back for him.

"It'll be it for me - because I give it five years' time and there'll be bugger all cattle in Australia," he said.

With the rates of cattle going to slaughter houses, in particular breeding stock, he believed it simply wasn't sustainable.

"The amount going through the saleyards to Dinmore and all those (abattoirs) - just in Queensland alone - we can't breed cattle that quick," he said.

"Look at all those places out in central Queensland that used to run sheep and cattle - they're trying to restock but they can only get 20 to 30 head at a time. 

"Once upon a time you used to be able to walk in and take 400 head. Those numbers aren't there."

While he said governments needed to focus more on assisting smaller producers - not just big corporations - through the drought, he didn't have and real answer for how the industry could be saved.

"I've got no magical answers, no crystal ball to tell me what to do," he said.


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