Watch CBS News

"Unprecedented" floods kills 300,000 cows in Australia

Stranded cows are seen surrounded by floodwater in Queensland, Australia February 5, 2019 REUTERS

An Australian cattle giant warns of 'extreme losses' from floods after record-breaking floods. Producers say more than 300,000 cows were drowned or washed away in the vast continent's northeast.

After more than five years of drought ,heavy rains over an almost two-week period turned dusty and parched land in Queensland state into vast swathes of mud that bogged down already weakened cattle.

Australian Agricultural Company Ltd (AACo) said Monday that four of its properties were "severely impacted" after "unprecedented levels of flooding" in the region, with "extreme losses" forecast for one 30,000-head station.

A clearer assessment of the losses, which AACo said would have a "material" impact on its earnings, would only be possible as floodwaters recede, the company added.

Around half of Australia's 25-million strong cattle herd are bred in Queensland, with an estimated one in 40 animals killed in the disaster.

Amelia Rankin stands in flooded waters in Hermit Park, Townsville, Queensland, Australia
Amelia Rankin stands in flooded waters in Hermit Park, Townsville, Queensland, Australia February 3, 2019.  STRINGER / REUTERS

"We think that there's over 300,000 head of cattle that have been lost, drowned or washed away" in the state, Georgie Somerset of farm lobby group AgForce said Tuesday.

Graziers have been trying to keep their remaining stock alive across 49 million acres of flood-affected land.

"We are literally ferrying one bale of hay at a time to feed the stock that we can find," Somerset added.

Australia's weather bureau warned Tuesday that Queensland's longest river was "experiencing its most significant flood in at least the last 50 years".

"Major flooding will continue along parts of the lower reaches of the Flinders River this week and into next week," it added.

Australia's tropical north typically experiences heavy rains during the monsoon season, but the downpours saw some areas get a year's worth of rainfall in just a week.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.