ATTUNGA hall was a place of service, support and solidarity yesterday at the first Navigating the Drought forum.
About 100 people filled the seats and lined the walls, there to seek guidance from several agencies.
Among them was Watsons Creek producer Brett Woods, who began hand-feeding his cattle three months ago.
He was there with mother and business partner Marie for advice on their situation – but even more so, he said, to bring back information to people around him.
“We were relatively lucky: because of our management practices we had quite a few paddocks locked up, but now we’re getting pretty desperate like everyone else, with water and feed being scarce,” he said.
They had halved their angus mob to 380 head, scaled “back to our core breeding” and sourced most of their hay from central Victoria.
That had now dried up, leaving them with about six weeks’ supply.
“The bloke there had 15,000 big squares and he sold them in a fortnight,” Mr Woods said.
“We’re looking everywhere – Victoria, central Queensland – but the problem now is that the prices have gone through the roof and the quality’s fallen.”
“It’s in the lap of the gods after that,” Mrs Woods said.
‘He’s in a lot of trouble’
But Mr Woods said he was really worried about a neighbour, who was “too proud” to seek help.
“His cows are calving and he’s only got about 10 days of hay,” he said.
“I was hoping to source some hay for [him] …
“He’s in a lot of trouble.”
As for himself, Mr Woods said he was trying to preserve the family’s business and name of 24 years.
“We’ve got a reputation with feedlots for quality animals, and if we get rid of them, that’s it.”