Shoalhaven cattle farmer appeals for community assistance

HELP NEEDED: Shoalhaven cattle farmer Stephen Sims on his Numbaa property. Photo: Madeline Crittenden.
HELP NEEDED: Shoalhaven cattle farmer Stephen Sims on his Numbaa property. Photo: Madeline Crittenden.

Stephen Sims has been breeding award-winning Murray Grey cattle for the past 35 years. 

At 25, he decided he’d had enough of the busy city life in Sydney, and left to become a cattle farmer. 

“I’ve never looked back since,” he said. 

But the drought has taken a strong hold on the cattle farmer, and with no money left to buy feed, his stress is mounting. 

“I’ve spent $41,000 on feed since January and I’ve got a few loads that I still owe for,” Mr Sims said. 

“It’s finished, I’ve run out of money.” 

Mr Sims has about 100 head of cattle on his Numbaa farm, and is relying on grass alone to feed them. 

“The grass was dead but the rain last week has given it a bit of a green tinge,” he said. 

“Now we just need it to grow.”

Mr Sims’ cattle ranks in the top 20 per cent of Murray Grey breeds in the country, but unfortunately he’s had to sell off a lot of his herd because of the drought. 

“This is certainly the driest I’ve ever seen things,” he said. 

“Prices [at the saleyards] were great 18 months ago, I was getting about $2.50 per kilo for my cattle, the best I’d seen in about a decade.

“Now I’m getting $0.50 per kilo or $1 if they’re in good order.” 

Mr Sims' cattle are surviving on grtass alone at the moment, as money for feed has run out.

Mr Sims' cattle are surviving on grtass alone at the moment, as money for feed has run out.

Mr Sims has got a few cows booked in to be sold next month which he hopes will help him pay some bills, but in the meantime, he’s applied for assistance with the Buy a Bale initiative. 

“I haven’t heard anything yet, but I know they are overwhelmed,” he said. “There are people who are doing a lot worse than I am.” 

Mr Sims bought his Shoalhaven farm in 2007, which was a huge achievement, and something that took a lot of guts. 

“I lost my previous farm due to drought,” he said. “Cattle prices just bottomed out and I couldn't sell enough cows to pay the bills. “

“I left the property with 20 cows and was able to buy this farm, which was a big deal for me.” 

His cows are now living off what little grass is left on the land, and he’s asked the community for help. 

“Hay is $550 a tonne at the moment, and that’s if you can get it, so I thought I’d ask people if they had grass clippings I could use to feed the cows,” he said. 

“It’s better than nothing.” 

Mr Sims said last week’s rain was encouraging. 

“I’m just hoping we can get through it,” he said. 

If you have any grass clippings that could assist Mr Sims, call 0438 201 922. 

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