EVEN the little bit of rain that fell in November helped a bit, but a record tonnage of hay has continued to roll into south and west Gippsland, almost unabated, after just 6.0mm was recorded in many areas during a “horrible” October.
Rain gauges from Wonthaggi to Foster have variously recorded between 40mm and 84mm for the month of November as follows: Lance Creek (near Wonthaggi) 84mm, Ruby Creek (near Leongatha) 45mm, Coalition Creek (near Korumburra) 49mm, Deep Creek (near Foster) 40mm, Little Bass (Poowong/Loch Nyora) 65mm and Fish Creek 49mm.
It was enough to give pastures a kick but not provide real relief.
“Yes, there’s been a lot of hay coming in over the past six to eight weeks. At record levels? Yes, I’d say it probably is for hay anyway,” said Chris Brown at Browns Stockfeed in Leongatha.
“It’s coming from the Mallee, anywhere from Horsham around to Albury, both protein and cereal hay.
“Because a lot of crops had to be cut, there’s a good supply of cereal hay and because the grain is also being harvested too, the supplies are good and the prices have come back a bit.
“They’re buying the hay to put in their sheds for later or also to help space out the silage they do have.
“A lot of people only got about 50 per cent or less of the silage they’d usually get and while this last bit of rain we had has helped a bit in some areas, it’s also been very tough in other areas as well.
“In the Yarram and Yanakie areas in particular, it’s not good at all at the moment.”
Mr Brown said as well as the hay, local producers were also ordering in grain and feed supplements to augment what they have been able to grow in the paddock.
“Harvest is in full swing at the moment so there’s a good supply of the grains; wheat and barley, but the protein including peas, lupins etc are a bit pricy because there hasn’t been as much of that.”
But the sight of semi-trailers, piled high with hay from the north of the state, is unlikely to abate anytime soon as local dairy farmers look to milk as far into the season as they can, despite the near record dry conditions.
In fact some areas have had less than a third of the rain they’d usually get in the crucial four months from September through to December.