PRE­MIUM FOD­DER

En­dur­ing drought pushes feed sup­ply to 50-year low

Stanthorpe Border Post - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

PHOTO: MATTHEW PURCELL

WORTH WEIGHT IN GOLD: Grant Neville from Neville’s Pro­duce at Ap­plethorpe says hay is at a pre­mium right now.

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