Not enough hay while sun shines

DROUGHT CRISIS

HAY is selling for up to $600 a tonne in the region as the drought crisis sparks an unprecedented feed shortage for livestock.

The prolonged dry has forced many of our cattle farmers to destock completely, while the ones holding onto stock are paying exorbitant prices just to handfeed.

The region’s feed suppliers are struggling to meet demand, with one business in Nemingha last week erecting a sign that simply reads: “No hay, sorry”.

Narrabri cattle farmer and hay supplier James Croker said the feed shortage was the worst he had ever seen.

“It’s as bad as it’s been,” Mr Croker said. “What’s coming into play now is that a lot of the coastal guys from places like Gloucester, or towns to the east of us like Guyra and Walcha, are looking for feed.

“This is traditionally safer country with more reliable rainfall but they’re struggling too.”

He said his business, which was selling hay for $165 a tonne, was resisting the temptation to dramatically increase prices.

“We’re trying to show some sympathy and not price gouge,” Mr Croker said. “But there’s some around for $600 a tonne and it’s outlandish.”

Gunnedah’s Rob de Groot from Leon’s Hay Sales said the situation was dire.

“Anyone who has stock they’re trying to hold onto is behind the eight-ball a long way,” Mr de Groot said. “Parts of Queensland have been in drought for 18 months which means there’s very little feed around in this area.

“Our sheds are normally full this time of year but this year we don’t have a bale to our name. We’re preselling all our lucerne. We won’t begin harvest on the next lot for 10 days but we’ve sold the lot already.”

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