The Support services directory lists a range of Federal and State assistance measures, with contacts and links to financial support measures, water support, regional counselling services and crisis care.
A guide for how the season is going on each lease, compared to other years, is the NDVI (greeness index) chart for 2020. The charts are updated each month.
Although much of the rangelands has experienced below average rainfall in 2019, industry are responding to the challenges with:
- increased water infrastructure being installed across the region
- a variety of agistment arrangements ensuring that available feed and water for livestock is optimised
- implementation of herd management plans.
Planning for 2020–21
Use climate forecasts, remote sensing information and your observations and experience to plan stocking rates for the year.
- Review climate outlooks
- Prepare a forage budget
- Determine carrying capacity vs. stocking rate
- Prepare a plan to reduce your stocking rate (if required)
Review climate outlooks
November to January 2021 wetter than average for nearly all of Australia
November to January is likely to be wetter than average for nearly all of Australia (greater than 70% chance in most areas), but drier than average in west coast Tasmania (greater than 70% chance).
November rainfall is likely (greater than 65%) to be above average across much of the mainland and north-east Tasmania. North-western WA and the north of Cape York Peninsula have roughly equal chances of a wetter or drier than average November while drier than average conditions are more likely in western Tasmania.
In the shorter term, the fortnight 12–25 October is likely to be wetter than average for much of Australia, and very likely (greater than 75% chance) for parts of the north. West coast WA and much of western Tasmania are likely to be drier than average.
The Bureau's ENSO Outlook is at La Niña, meaning La Niña is underway in the tropical Pacific Ocean.
All eight surveyed international climate models, including the Bureau's model, anticipate La Niña conditions are likely to persist until at least the end of January 2021.
The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) index is at neutral values.
Most models suggest the IOD index will return to negative IOD values during October, with several maintaining these values into November. It is unclear at this stage whether these forecast negative values will be sustained long enough to be considered a negative IOD event.
The Southern Annular Mode (SAM) is expected to be positive over the remainder of October. La Niña tends to favour positive SAM during the spring to summer months, which typically enhances the wet signal of La Niña in parts of eastern Australia.
Australia's temperature and rainfall variability are also influenced by global warming caused by human activities. Australia's climate has warmed by around 1.4 °C since 1910, while southern Australia has seen a reduction of 10–20% in cool season (April–October) rainfall in recent decades.
The Bureau's climate model uses the physics of our atmosphere, oceans, ice, and land surface combined with millions of observations from satellites and on land and sea. As a result, it incorporates the influence of climate change and natural climate drivers like ENSO, IOD, the MJO and SAM in its outlooks.
Commentary on recent weather conditions across the north and links to tropical monitoring pages from the Bureau of Meteorology
Details and charts of rainfall and temperature outlooks from the Bureau of Meteorology
Additional seasonal information relevant to northern Australia, provided by the University of Southern Queensland
Two regional ‘Climate Mates’ are available to assist pastoralists with climate information and tools via email, phone, webinar and on-station visits:
Climate outlooks - The Long Paddock
A Queensland Government initiative that provides climate and pasture information to the grazing community, including access to rainfall and pasture outlooks and decision support tools to support land management decision making and planning. Some WA pastoralists may benefit from the tools on the site.
Prepare a forage budget
Adjusting stocking rates to meet current feed supply; livestock feed intake and nutritional requirements; pasture utilisation; and ground cover targets is considered best management practice.
A forage budget will assist in decision-making:
- if it is safe to carry more stock;
- to carry the same number for longer; or
- or if there is not enough pasture to safely carry the number you have for the length of time you want.
Tools and information to support forage budgeting:
- Forage budgeting and pasture utilisation - video
- Forage budgeting – video series
- Break of season rules for forage budgets
Determine carrying capacity vs. stocking rate
- Dry season pasture budget: a guide for stocking rates
- Stocking rate calculator
- Feed demand calculator
- Stocktake: balancing supply and demand
- Cow and weaner management options
Plan to reduce your stocking rate
- Break of season rules for forage budgets
- MLA Drought Preparedness checklist
- Tips for a tough season: destocking strategies – northern Australia
- Decisions for drought affected producers - video
- Drought and the breeder herd - video
- Dry season management of a beef business - A guide to planning,
- Managing and supplementary feeding (PDF, 1.11MB)
- Making Livestock Decisions in Dry Times (PDF, 1.1MB)
- Welfare decisions for beef cattle
- Is it fit to load? A national guide to selecting animals fit to transport: a PDF download (Meat and Livestock Australia)
- Animal welfare regulation newsletter: latest information on animal welfare policies and standards
A range of Federal and State assistance measures are in place to support farmers and pastoralists experiencing hardship, as a result of seasonal pressures.
The Support Services Directory harnesses a range of financial, water and welling support, as well as links to Regional Counselling Services and 24/7 crisis care.
Western Australia does not have a drought declaration system so no formal declaration needs to be made to access these services.
The Federal Government’s National Drought Policy and National Drought Agreement aims to build resilience to climate variability and dry season pressures, specifically through bolstering risk management practices and enhancing long-term preparedness. See the national On-farm Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate Scheme.
Note: the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation administers the WA component of the On-farm Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate Scheme.
For queries or information relating to cattle management during the season, please contact the department’s offices at Broome on +61 (0)8 9194 1400 or Kununurra on +61 (0)8 9166 4000.
Alternatively, contact one of the officers below: