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.
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.