BRIDGE OF BOVINES: Drover Shaun Moffitt leading his herd across Mingo Crossing Bridge on Monday, July 15.
BRIDGE OF BOVINES: Drover Shaun Moffitt leading his herd across Mingo Crossing Bridge on Monday, July 15. Alex Treacy

Droving on the rise as the grass dies

DROVER Shaun Moffitt, from Taralga in New South Wales, swore as he spurred his horse towards the fence.

Earlier that morning, Shaun's team had formed an electrified 'break' on the northern side of Mingo Crossing Bridge on Gayndah-Mount Perry Rd, to keep the herd of 400 cattle together before leading them across.

However, a section which wasn't electrified had been knocked over by the restless cattle, which began streaming into the neighbouring paddock.

"You get used to it,” Mr Moffitt said after the fence had been repaired.

"There's stuff-ups every day, little things like that fence getting mowed over.”

Mr Moffitt and his team, which includes his partner Lotte Albertsen, started in Theodore and will range across the North Burnett, so the cattle can feed on the green shoots which still line the region's roads and paddocks.

Their route will take them through Mundubbera, Monto and Eidsvold.

They can travel about 10km per day, but slow to 4km when the herd is in calf, because the calves are slow and the mothers need more feed if they're yet to deliver.

Taking them over bridges is far easier than trying to control them in scrubby bushland with no fences, Ms Albertsen said.

"They go through it and they hide behind the trees,” she said.

The team consists of four drovers, 20 horses and 34 dogs, which, alongside the caravan, horse floats and the gooseneck trailer, presents a logistical problem when they moving camp.

"Every day you've got to move,” Mr Moffitt said.

"Getting out of bed in the morning (is hard).

Expect to see this sight more often in the North Burnett: according to Neale Jensen, Council's senior land protection officer, "We're the only ones with any feed left.”

Environmental services manager Jeff Miles agrees.

"When I first started (at Council) there was nothing like this because everything was nice and green,” Mr Miles said.

"Now, we've had two or three in the last six months and we've got two or three coming.

"This is one way (for graziers) to maintain and keep their stock alive when their paddock at home is pretty well dry as a bone, it keeps their heard current.”

The only two Local Government Areas adjoining North Burnett which have not been drought-declared are Fraser Coast and Gympie.

Gladstone, Bundaberg, South Burnett, Banana and Western Downs have all been drought-declared.

Mr Miles said droving cattle requires a stock route permit, which Council issues after conferring with the Department of Transport and Main Roads to receive consent and have conditions applied.

Council officers were on site to direct traffic.

"We've had a couple of others where people just drive through without slowing down. It happens,” Mr Miles said.

"We had one south of Gayndah where trucks would just drive straight through without slowing down and they (the drovers) would have to go down and pick up dead calves.”