Graziers desperate for feed are having to fight big red kangaroos for the last green shoots on the long paddock.
For the first time in 15 years, big reds are coming off the river banks around the Hay district and are competing with cattle for pasture on the Travelling Stock Reserve.
“It’s unusual to see them on the reserves, they usually stick to the river,” drover Colin Byron said.
“I was speaking to some of the old farmers and they haven’t seen anything like the number of kangaroos for around 15 years.
“This year has been tough enough on the Hay plains let alone dealing with the kangaroos that are taking all the feed.”
Mr Byron left Wangaratta, Victoria, three years ago with 1000 head of Angus cattle and then made his way across the border to Deniliquin and Hay.
In August, his number was reduced to 735 and now he has just returned back to Victoria and is on the road with 500 head.
“When we started three years ago we came through a wet year and then very dry with the toughest I’ve seen for a while,” he said.
“But now there is a bit of green feed on the road and the cattle are full, it’s raining as we speak with more expected this week.”
In that time he has also seen the birth of his daughter Bonnie (now 10-months-old) with partner Kirsty.
“She (Bonnie) travels well, there (are) no dramas at all, it won’t be long before she is helping out,” he said.
When Mr Byron is not droving – an industry he has been involved in since he was a baby – he can be found overseeing horsemanship clinics in Adelaide.
LLS invest $1m for stock route upgrades
As the drought continues to bite across many NSW regions, the Travelling Stock Reserve (TSR) are being inundated with thousands of cattle searching for greener pastures.
Right now there are more than 56,000 head of cattle accessing the state’s TSR networks during this drought.
In September 2018, Local Land Services (LLS), which is responsible for approximately 534,000 hectares of TSRs in NSW, issued 485 TSR permits (including travelling stock, short and long term grazing).
According to LLS, all TSRs in NSW remain open, with some local limitations in place due to reduced ground cover in the drought.
It comes as LLS has invested more than than $1 million towards works and maintenance on TSRs throughout the state in the last financial year with more to be spent in the coming year, which was one of the recommendations from the TSR Review.
A range of work has been undertaken including desilting stock water dams, refurbishing stock watering points, upgrading TSR signage, installation of solar pumps, repairs and upgrades to strategic holding yards.
New trough pads, pipelines and tanks have been installed to ensure stock have water access.
Telemetry and security technology devices have also been installed at stock watering places to monitor water usage, control security and identify labour efficiencies.
“The works make TSRs easier to identify and will help landholders secure their stock and access water,” LLS chief executive David Witherdin said.
“This is particularly important when managing biosecurity incidents.
“The investment improves environmental outcomes through better management of grazing and access to water for stock.”
Mr Witherdin said the LLS had upgraded the TSR network to also ensure workplace health and safety compliance and had similar works planned for the coming year.
An additional $1m from Crown Lands will be used to manage the TSRs and help develop the TSR plan of management in 2018/19.
Mr Witherdin said this expenditure would be used for weed and pest control, compliance activities, priority infrastructure upgrades and increased involvement of Aboriginal people in TSR management
“This level of investment in these iconic parcels of land demonstrates LLS commitment to maintaining a viable, well maintained and connected TSR network for the future,” Mr Witherdin said.