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Savanna Explorer > Gulf Country > Grazing > Grazing in the NT Gulf

Grazing in the NT Gulf

Grazing country

Overall, the grazing country on the Northern Territory side of the border is significantly poorer than that to the east. The number of properties reaching full operational potential in this area is probably less than 20.

There are fewer cattle and herds than there were in the early 1980s before a lot of destocking took place on these properties as part of Brucellosis and Tuberculosis Eradication Campaign (BTEC) programs. Many have not restocked.

Aboriginal property rationalisation

Since 1995 only one or two properties were destocked as part of Aboriginal property rationalisation. Many properties are now owned, either as a pastoral lease or as inalienable freehold, by Aboriginal people. Properties outside those mentioned above do not run controlled cattle enterprises, and instead may occasionally muster feral cattle for sale to the Katherine meatworks.

Limits to production

For graziers in this part of the Gulf, the greatest limit to production continues to be the low nutrient value of the feed, especially in the dry season. Transport costs are high, but mustering costs are also very high because of the nature of the terrain and heavy timber. There is scope to improve viability of this country with technology to improve fence security and better roads. The current lack of fencing is compounded by very high summer rainfall that damages those in place.

Remoteness also creates problems for maintenance and development work, and in accessing materials and labour. One positive point is that water resources are not a problem in most years. The majority of cattle from this part of the Gulf region are sold to stores, and some are exported live via Darwin.

Nutritious feed

The handful of properties that are still producing to capacity and considered viable in the long term tend to back on to the Mitchell grass region. Thus they have areas of black soil which provide nutritious Mitchell and Flinders grass feed. One property is experimenting with improved pastures.

Feral animals and burning

Feral animals such as brumbies and dingoes are a concern, as are feral pigs to the east of Robinson River. Rubber vine has still been kept out of this part of the Gulf region. However, other weeds including Noogoora burr (Xanthium strumarium), bellyache bush (Jatropha gossypifolia), lion's tail (Leonotis nepetifolia), devil's claw (Martynia annua), sida (Sida acuta) and hyptis (Hyptis suaveolens) are a problem for producers.

At present there is little systematic burning being carried out in this part of the Gulf region.