TALKING WATER WITH GUS

Angus (known as Gus) was born and raised on Umbearra Station. He carries a family legacy as the third generation to manage cattle on the 3,600 square kilometre property located 300km South of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory.

A fantastic summer granted the McKay Family a productive end to the 2016 season. Things have now dried off but with effective water management, cattle are never out of water and the family continue to have access to clean drinking water all year round.

The McKay family produce 600-800 kg Bullocks for the USDA NOP Organic market. Most cattle get processed in in Murray Bridge or Naracoorte, South Australia.

Pioneer Water Tanks
Kimberley buried in green grass at ‘bore round yard’ during the good winter rain received in 2016.

Most important questions first, choice of refreshment Gus?

“It’s gotta be a scotch and dry at the end of a long day.”

Where does your water come from?

“Our stock water mainly comes from bore holes pumping anywhere from 15ft to 520ft. It’s all part of the sub-artesian basin. We also have about 12 major dams. We are lucky to have fairly shallow water around most of the place and plenty of it.”

How are you managing water for livestock?

“We have about 36 permanent watering points on Umbearra. Twelve of these are large dams and the other watering points are supported by bores pumping into tanks and troughs. These are all located in trap yards. Control your water and you control your cattle. Water is pumped by a combination of diesel driven Monos, solar powered submersibles and windmills.”

Pioneer Water Tanks
Angas McKay

What are some of the bigger water challenges you face?

“For us, we don’t have a lot of challenges in providing water for our cattle. As long as you’re aware of how many cattle you’ve got at each watering point and keep an eye on the weather.“

What’s one tip for maintaining a reliable source of water for livestock?

“My biggest tip is to keep up your maintenance! This includes regular water runs to check everything is running as it should, and of course, cleaning the troughs to ensure clean drinking water for livestock.”

Pioneer Water Tanks
Healthy, well-conditioned cattle feed quality from hay at Umbearra Station

How essential is water to your family and business?

“Clean water is everything to our family and our cattle. A cattle station is worthless without good water. You also need to have good water management. You need water for your health, your garden and your cattle.”

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