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Rural

From the building industry to the bush

GRIN AND BEAR IT: Livestock agent David Friend and Stanthorpe producer Bruce Hiscock smiling despite the dry, wild dogs and an unpredictable market.
GRIN AND BEAR IT: Livestock agent David Friend and Stanthorpe producer Bruce Hiscock smiling despite the dry, wild dogs and an unpredictable market. Toni Somes

IN A previous life Bruce Hiscock worked in construction, but while his job may have been in the city, his heart was always in the bush.

The Rural Weekly caught up with the good-natured sheepman as he discussed the merits, and stress, of a rural change with his livestock agent David Friend.

"I am from Victoria, we had a place in the Snowy Mountains about 20 years ago, but we sold up and ended up working and living in Brisbane," he explained.

"Then my son started to talk about farming so we bought a hobby farm and a couple of years later we are living here fulltime. It's definitely more stressful, being on the land rather than working in construction and you have to get use to not making any money."

Laughingly he said if you told yourself enough times that it was 'worth it for the lifestyle' you might even start believing it.

Initially, the Hiscock family bought Katoomba, near Gore, west of Warwick.

It is around 1220ha of scrub country that has had a tough season with limited rain resulting in little run off for stock water and a short body of feed heading into winter.

"We bought Katoomba about six or seven years ago," Mr Hiscock said.

"Some of our dams there are still dry, so it hasn't been the best season for us there."

The outlook is slightly better at his home property, Montrose, 35km west of Stanthorpe.

"We need rain now, but the country is holding okay," Mr Hiscock said.

The property is 1220ha and between the two holdings the Hiscock family run about 2500 head of sheep.

"The country is ideal for sheep, but the problem is it also suits wild dogs."

He baited in early May but despite the move lost sheep in a wild dog attack a fortnight later.

"We hadn't had much of a problem during the previous 12 months, then we found three wethers dead in the paddock and a number of others were bitten."

While he acknowledges the challenges of wild dogs and dry times he said the upside was "reasonable" prices.

The top price at Queensland's weekly sheep sale was $128 for prime lambs, averaging 45kg.

Market commentator Ross Ellis from McDougall and Sons said western consignments had bulked up the local supply with the 1400 lambs available.

The market was firm to a shade easier in the better types.

He said number two lambs, light trade and any woolly lambs were cheaper.

"The previously higher market available for the sheepskins has been seriously eroded with a vast majority having little or no commercial value," Mr Ellis said.

"This, of course, will affect the buying limits. Sheep were at a slight premium, but on a whole remained firm."