Hundreds of thousands of cattle may have died after torrential rains struck Australia’s Queensland state, the nation’s largest producer, which had been battling years of drought.
Fodder for stricken cattle is being distributed by air, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Feb. 8. Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk described seeing a “sea of dead cattle” after touring a property in Cloncurry, ABC news reported.
“This will be heartbreaking to these communities, that have been experiencing years of drought, only to see that turn into a torrential inundation, which threatens now their very livelihoods in the complete other direction,” Morrison said.
Some livestock are stuck in mud and may cause further injury by trying to move themselves, he said.
Flood warnings remain in place for many parts of the state. Some places in Queensland received more than 2 meters of rain in 10 days, according to the Bureau of Meteorology. The rain swamped towns, curbed mining operations and flooded thousands of hectares of sugarcane.
For cattle producers, the full impact of the floods is unknown, industry researcher and marketer Meat & Livestock Australia Ltd. said Feb. 8.
“It is impossible to ascertain the extent of the full impact to livestock in these regions, and what the flow on impact is to the red meat and livestock industry and the local cattle markets,” the association said.
The flood devastation follows years of drought that had shrunk herd numbers and depleted feed stockpiles. Cattle slaughter, production and beef exports were forecast to decrease due to the dry weather, MLA said in a report on Jan. 29 before the floods.
There were 11.1 million head of cattle in Queensland, according to a 2018 MLA report, compared to the nation’s total of 26.2 million head.