Enduring drought pushes feed supply to 50-year low
THE region has hit a rough patch, with the fodder drought set to hit a 50-year low.
Livestock producers around the region are in trouble as an unforeseen shortage of hay starts to hit the country, with some Southern Downs farmers already suffering.
As demand for hay increases, producers are being forced to buy feed from as far away as South Australia.
Grant Neville from Neville’s Produce said hay sales reached record levels.
“There’s been a dramatic increase in hay sales locally in recent weeks,” Mr Neville said.
“We’ve seen customers requiring more hay to feed their animals since the end of March, unlike in NSW where they’ve required a lot of feed since early in the year. The last four weeks we have seen the most dramatic increase in hay sales here at our produce store.”
“Customers who usually buy small amounts are now buying in bulk as they are concerned, both about possible cost rises and the continued availability of hay.
“We’re still sourcing our hay from our regular suppliers around Aratula. However we’ll soon be sourcing some of our hay from a greater distance away as suppliers are starting to run low on some types of hay we stock here, especially small bales of lucerne.”
Texas-based lucerne producer Greg Finlay said the region was in a “desperate” situation.
“Anyone with livestock will have to make some big decisions really soon or things will get very bad.”
But as farmers increasingly look to de-stock, slaughter grids are filling up quickly.
“I’ve got dairy farmers here that can’t feed their cattle and also can’t reduce their stock numbers,” Mr Finlay said.
Dalveen cattle farmer Gerard Wren has worked in the region for 12 years and said the dry conditions were the worst he’d seen in the area.
“Our dams are about half full, hopefully they won’t go down much more with the cooler weather and the cows aren’t drinking as much.”
He has just bought a truckload of hay from South Australia to share with his daughter, Courtney, and another local farmer.
“You do your best to keep your animals alive and in a healthy condition,” he said.
WORTH WEIGHT IN GOLD: Grant Neville from Neville’s Produce at Applethorpe says hay is at a premium right now.