Cattle passed-in at northern saleyards were being shot and buried in the 1970s as graziers faced the real prospect of bankruptcy due to crippling cattle prices.
Back then economists predicted around 62 per cent of the nation's beef producers had a net income under $5000 in 1976 and would be "better off on unemployment benefits".
At least 20,000 specialist beef producers faced bankruptcy and were earning about $26 a week, based on federal government stats and a Australian Cattlemen's Council's survey at the time.
According to the Cattlemen's Union in the North Queensland Register on February 12, 1977, producers were getting 20 cents per kilogram less at saleyards than what processors or exports received from overseas market prices.
In January the average GAQ ox price was 56.6 cents per kilogram carcase weight at Canon Hill while cows were 49.4c/kg.
The union took the extreme action, as published on June 4, 1977, to drive 18 cows from Dave Kirk to the Gracemere sale with the reserve of $100 a pen, to represent the values cattlemen should expect.
When they only sold for $77.50 a pen, with some individual cows making just $10, they were shot in a crush and buried in protest at the government's inaction.
They called for a minimum price mechanism at the saleyard level.
President of the Rolleston Cattlemen's Union branch, Keith McCamley, said the branch hoped to shock parliamentarians and consumers of the desperate position of cattlemen.
"Australia is exporting record amounts of beef, developing new markets, and profits on the exporting and processing side are higher than ever before," he told the Register at the time.
"Yet the cattle breeder - the basis of the industry- is going broke. All cattlemen want is their share of the profits they know the industry is earning."
In an earlier edition, two hotel owners in towns west of Townsville said four of the five large property owners in the district had handed over dole payments after being forced off the land.
"Station hands, shearers and even local contractors who made a living from the stations and the associated industries are now either on social service or have left the land they love," an unnamed hotel owner said.
Prices weren't much better for horses, working stock horses were selling for as little as $100.
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