Dubbo region farmer Scott Tourle says drought 'could take us out to 2025'

DRY TIMES: Scott Tourle's property 'The Springs' has seen just 50 millimetres of rain this year. Just 350 millimetres fell in 2017 (half of that before March) - well below the 600 millimetre yearly average. Photo: CRAIG THOMPSON
DRY TIMES: Scott Tourle's property 'The Springs' has seen just 50 millimetres of rain this year. Just 350 millimetres fell in 2017 (half of that before March) - well below the 600 millimetre yearly average. Photo: CRAIG THOMPSON

Drought-like conditions currently gripping NSW could last until 2025, according to Scott Tourle.

The farmer and his family run cattle on their property ‘The Springs’ about 40 kilometres south of Dubbo, and Mr Tourle says they have faced below-average rainfall since March 2017.

With just 200 head of cattle on 10,000 acres, they have essentially destocked.

They’re supplementary feeding at the moment, with plans to offload the remaining stock when there’s no longer “any more value” in the dry feed that’s around.

“It’s daunting,” Mr Tourle said about the prospect of completely destocking, and starting from scratch when the drought breaks.

“But we think we’re better off doing that and putting money in the bank now, rather than trying to guess how long the bit of string is in terms of how long the drought is. We’ve got no idea.

Looking on past cycles, I think we’ve got a drought that could take us out to 2025.

Scott Tourle

“Looking on past cycles, I think we’ve got a drought that could take us out to 2025 … there’s a good possibility of that happening.”

Further south at ‘Tralee’, Phil Sheridan is running 300 head of cattle on the 840 hectares he has farmed since 1988.

He’s feeding his cattle rolled oats, but will soon move them onto a higher protein, wheat-based ration if the weather doesn’t break.

“It’s the worst I’ve seen,” he said of the conditions.

“What I’m hoping to do is feed them on the oats to get them through adn then I’ll start fattening them up.

“The way prime cattle are going at the moment … at least this way we’ll get an income.”

Mr Tourle said every farmer had to make their own business decision as to how to handle the drought.

“Whether you feed, whether you destock … if you're feeding you've got to be feeding for a purpose … not just to keep stock alive,” he said.

“We want to look after our country, we don’t want to get back to bare ground, we want to leave ground cover.

“It will rain somewhere around the state all the time, there’s going to be some opportunities so no matter what we can buy stock in from somewhere else.”

He welcomed Monday’s visit from Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair, saying “it’s important for our politicians to come out, actually talk to us and understand how things are happening”.