First published with The Courier –

Thousands of sheep have been found dead at a Clunes property after last weekend’s wild weather.

Heavy rains and plummeting temperatures last Sunday are believed to be responsible for the death of the stock at Beckworth Court, one of the largest sheep stations in the region.

The property, which carries around 20,000 sheep, is owned by the Paraway Pastoral Company.

A spokesperson for Paraway Pastoral said management responded to the change in weather condition.

“The team took account of a rapid deterioration in conditions as the weekend progressed, moving livestock to paddocks offering stands of trees and sheltered areas,” the spokesperson said.

“The losses primarily involved younger sheep shorn in the weeks leading up to the unexpected change in conditions on the weekend.

“Beckworth Court and its parent, Paraway Pastoral, take great pride in their management of livestock and are saddened by these losses.”


The Bureau of Meteorology issued a severe weather warning and sheep grazier warning for Ballarat and much of the state last weekend. The temperature dropped from 27 degrees on Saturday to 13 degrees by Sunday.

​A farmer, who asked not to be named, stressed property managers should prepare their stock for harsh weather.

“Once you have rain on freshly shorn sheep, it is a recipe for disaster” – Local farmer

“You should be prepared if you have shorn sheep and make sure they have plenty of hay and shelter,” the farmer said.

Victorian Farmers Federation livestock group president Leonard Vallance said it can be hard to manage livestock during extreme weather events, but the loss of a large amount of sheep was rare in Australia.


“Animal husbandry, farming, and weather technology has improved, so farmers know to increase feed and take their stock to a sheltered area,” he said.

“The loss of sheep is a very unusual event these days, even in the high country.

“Given the value of sheep at this current time farmers will be doing their utmost to keep them alive.”

“But at times, animals do die. It’s one of the unfortunate realities of farming” – Leonard Vallance, VFF livestock group president

Medium weight merino wethers sold for just over $100-a-head at the Ballarat Saleyard this week, according to Meat and Livestock Australia.

Paraway Pastoral Company, owned by Macquarie Pastoral Fund, run 21 pastoral enterprises across Australia. Paraway Pastoral’s website states two staff work at Beckworth Court.