GOOD TIMES: Bruce Burnham with his wife Barbara at the Monto Dairy Festival.
GOOD TIMES: Bruce Burnham with his wife Barbara at the Monto Dairy Festival. Tobi Loftus

Grazier's ups and downs

BRUCE Burnham has seen many changes in the cattle industry since he moved to his property near Monto 67 years ago.

"We came up here in 1949, to a property called Ups and Downs near Wuruma Dam," Mr Burnham said.

"We've had many ups and downs so that's why it's the name of the property.

"We appreciate the good times, it's been pretty good."

Mr Burnham was one of the first brangus breeders in Australia.

"When I came home from school I started breeding brangus and now I'm the oldest brangus breeder left in the country," he said.

"I was stud number nine, there were nine of us that started the original brangus and I'm the only one of them left, of the nine fellas that started.

"They have been very good cattle to us, as they suited the country and were very acceptable, marketable beasts."

Mr Burnham said the biggest challenges in his time as a grazier have been governments and seasons.

"Very likely in that order," he said.

"I think we've worked out the weather as well as we could.

"You shouldn't lose cattle any more.

"In 1951 we had a big drought and lost 100 head, but you shouldn't lose cattle of that sort of number any more."

He said technology and other options exist that are able to save cattle.

"You've got a lot of transport, you can ship them somewhere else, you can sell them," he said.

"In those days you couldn't, there was nowhere to go.

"We had British-bred cattle that couldn't handle the weather."

Mr Burnham said the current market was good to graziers in the region.

"The current market is fantastic, it's somewhere where it should be," he said.

"People around the area are starting to do things they should have been doing years ago but haven't been able to.

"There is a lot of optimism, just because of the drought they had in other areas, we've survived this one pretty good and it's shortened up the supply of cattle, which is good for us.

"Hopefully we've got a good enough industry to survive, we hope."

Mr Burnham said this was leading his business, which now operated on a number of properties, to try new things.

"My son is in to strict grazing management, so he can run the cattle without any ticks," Mr Burnham said.

"He's got his country split up into very small areas, and the big mob goes from each small paddock so you don't get ticks.

"He's been able to go organic, so we'll start selling organic cattle next year, which is very interesting."

Mr Burnham said the biggest challenge going forward would be working with government.

"The governments have got to go with you," he said.

"At the moment, trying to block all of our land clearing and you don't know how far they're going to take those things.

"Seasons are always a challenge as well."



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