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Runaway Brahman escapes transportation and slaughter to help restock family farm

Shannon Corvo, Tuesday December 3, 2019 - 17:12 EDT
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Jennifer Reschke is hoping Daisy can help re-stock her family's farm. - ABC

Meat and Livestock Australia estimate more than 8 million adult cattle will be slaughtered this year as the drought continues, but despite those odds, Daisy the Brahman cow has survived.

She was being transported with the rest of her herd from the Northern Territory to South Australia to be slaughtered.

Upon arriving at the truck transport yard at Port Augusta, more than 310 kilometres north of Adelaide, she appeared to have jumped off the truck.

Oil and gas driller, Peter Ross, was cleaning up after an event at the Port Augusta Dirt Circuit Club, about 100 metres away from the yard, when he noticed the cow in one of the fenced-off areas.

"She was very, very skinny, and you could see every bone on her," he said.

"I would try and grab her to give her some water, but she was very intimidated by that and she charged me a couple of times.

It is estimated that the cow spent weeks wandering around Port Augusta before she was found and reported by Mr Ross.

"I think it was a day or two after that I actually decided to ring the council just to say 'look, there's a cow out there and she's not looking too good'," he said.

"We had a mascot for a week at the car club."

Mr Ross said some of the car club members ironically nicknamed the large brahman "Daisy".

Lucky to survive

The Port Augusta City Council visited the cow and assessed her condition.

General inspector Kylie McKerlie was surprised the cow had survived the ordeal.

"She had a lot of skin off … so it was consistent with the injuries of coming off of one of the trucks," she said.

"I would say she would've been in a lot worse condition, if not dead, if she'd done it while they were moving."

Ms McKerlie said the team had to use a camera to zoom in on her identification tag because she was too wild.

"We got the numbers and contacted the stock agent who notified the owners in the Northern Territory," she said.

"Because of her bad condition, we all decided it wasn't safe for her to travel with her health like it was.

"The owners actually advised the stock agent that if we could find her a new home, they would be happy for that to happen.

"Then a girl who works for the council, Jennifer Reschke, offered to give her a home."

A new life in the Flinders Ranges

Forty-nine-year-old Jennifer Reschke from Quorn has been at her family's property, Philjen Farm, since she was 16 and Daisy is the property's newest addition.

"I've had to sell off quite a few cattle, but I've still got some left so she's wandering around with them," she said.

Ms Reschke said the cow's mental and physical health had improved dramatically.

"Being off a station in the Northern Territory, they're all a little bit wild," she said.

"They don't get around people very often, maybe only once or twice a year, and they're not yarded very often.

"She's seeing us all the time, and by living with our cattle she's getting better."

A win-win for everyone

The drought has taken its toll on the property.

Ms Reschke used to have 20 head of cattle but has had to sell all but two in the last year because of the lack of rain.

Now, in return for a second lease on life, Daisy is going to help rebuild the herd.

"I've decided that I will get a bull and she'll have calves for me in the future," Ms Reschke said.

"When the rains do come, it'll be good to have a few of Daisy's progeny to come and help build the stock up again."

MLA senior market analyst, Adam Cheetham, said female slaughter rates have been elevated for the last 18 months.

"On a 12-month rolling average, that percentage of females is now at 54 per cent," he said.

"Typically, anything over 47 per cent would indicate the herd is in contraction.

"We've seen the Australian herd in contraction before, back in 2014 and 2015, whereby we saw the percentage of females reach 51 per cent.

"So, it's not unusual to be within that range, but at the moment, it is certainly the highest we've ever seen it on a 12-month rolling average."


© ABC 2019

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