Pastoral season 2020 – seasonal and management information for Western Australia

Page last updated: Monday, 12 October 2020 - 11:20am

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) assists pastoralists in the rangelands of Western Australia by providing seasonally relevant information on conditions and management.

Contact your local DPIRD office for more information.

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.

Seasonal update

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.

Back to top

Planning for 2020–21

Use climate forecasts, remote sensing information and your observations and experience to plan stocking rates for the year.

  1. Review climate outlooks
  2. Prepare a forage budget
  3. Determine carrying capacity vs. stocking rate
  4. 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.

Map of rainfall outlook


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.


Climate and weather information and contacts

Climate information


Weekly Tropical Climate Note

Commentary on recent weather conditions across the north and links to tropical monitoring pages from the Bureau of Meteorology

Seasonal Climate Outlooks

Details and charts of rainfall and temperature outlooks from the Bureau of Meteorology

Climate Outlook Review

Additional seasonal information relevant to northern Australia, provided by the University of Southern Queensland

Climate Mates


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.

Back to top

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:

Determine carrying capacity vs. stocking rate

Plan to reduce your stocking rate

Other resources

Back to top

Support services directory

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.

Back to top

More information

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:

Department contacts



Trevor Price
Northern Beef Development

Broome office
27 Hunter Street, Broome WA  6725
t +61 (0)8 9194 1441
m +61 (0)437 826 003

Stephanie Coombes
Development Officer
Northern Beef Development - Pilbara

Broome office
27 Hunter Street, Broome WA  6725
t +61 (0)8 9194 1430 
m +61 (0)436 616 219

Matthew Fletcher
Development Officer
Land and Water Assessment

Kununurra office
Durack Drive, Kununurra WA  6743
t +61 (0)8 9166 4044
m +61 428 637 710

Kath Ryan
Development Officer
Land and Water Assessment
Kimberley and Pilbara

Kununurra office
Durack Drive, Kununurra WA  6743
t +61 (0)8 9166 4044  


Contact information

Trevor Price
+61 (0)8 9194 1441
Stephanie Coombes
+61 (0)8 9194 1430
Matthew Fletcher
+61 (0)8 9166 4019
Kath Ryan
+61 (0)8 9166 4015