Pastoral season update

A group of people standing on pastoral land, listening to a man speak
Twenty-six people attended the Twilight Forum at Bidgemia Station, Gascoyne Junction

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development is continuing to work with the State’s pastoral industry to manage the prolonged dry seasonal conditions and prevent impacts on animal welfare.

Officers have visited more than 100 properties since July, with a focus on animal welfare considerations and management.

While the majority of pastoralists are managing these difficult conditions, the department has been working with a small number of properties around livestock management measures, including steps to improve water provision.

Officers will continue to liaise with pastoralists over the coming months to provide advice and support where needed and ensure impacts are appropriately managed.

The 2019 pastoral season webpage provides useful material to support producers, including climate information, livestock management information and tools, and links to available support services and assistance.

Cattle movements

Industry has responded to the challenging season, installing increased water infrastructure; providing for a variety of agistment arrangements to optimise available feed and water for livestock; and implementing dry season herd management plans.

For the north, there have been significant increases in year to date export and processing figures, which reflect proactive and early decision making. Year to date cattle turn off figures for the region (as of end of August) showed an overall increase in turn off of more than 50,000 head compared to the same time last year.

Animal welfare

People in charge of animals have a legal obligation to provide those animals with proper and sufficient food and water. Responsibilities under the Animal Welfare Act 2002, information to help make welfare decisions for cattle and sheep, as well as the relevant Codes of Practice, are available from the DPIRD website.


The Pastoral Lands Board (PLB) has authorised the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage to approve applications on its behalf, to allow the early movement of drought-affected stock between properties.

This means approval can be granted at any time, rather than pastoralists having to wait for approval at PLB meetings, which are held every two months.

Applicants need to meet certain criteria including that the duration of the agistment does not exceed two years. Pastoralists who would like to apply should email

Twilight forums

To further assist producers with access to timely and relevant information, DPIRD’s Northern Beef Development team recently hosted a series of on-station workshops under the theme of ‘Managing for climate variability’.

Three October workshops at Bidgemia Station, Gascoyne Junction; Emu Creek Station, Nanuturra; and Ethel Creek Station, Newman, were attended by 52 people from 15 pastoral companies. They followed three successful forums held in April near Marble Bar, Derby and Halls Creek.

Woman speaking in front of a group
DPIRD officer Mariah Maughan presents at a Twilight Forum

The forums featured Grey Mackay from Kimberley Pilbara Cattlemen’s Association, explaining the key drivers of seasonal climate in the north west and consultant Col Paton discussed management strategies such as forage budgeting and implementing key decision dates to manage pasture and cattle in drier years.

Phil Tickle from Cibo Labs presented on how satellite technology can assist pastoralists in monitoring the pasture availability for their cattle as well as monitor land condition.

Owen Catto from the Regional Men’s Health Initiative presented to attendees and DPIRD officer James Matthews discussed animal welfare in difficult seasons.

For more information contact Dr Bruce Mullan, director, Livestock Research and Industry Innovation on +61 (0)8 9368 3578