YOU don’t have to be a meteorologist to recognise that this region is in drought, with bare brown paddocks a common site across the usually lush landscape.
But the stats show that this summer has been the driest on record, much worse than the drought of 1914.
Most farmers, however, are not panicking.
Those who made firm decisions early about stocking levels are still benefitting from solid prices at the market, which has allowed them to buy in feed and water where necessary.
Regardless, producers are keen to offload. Almost 3500 head were sold at Koonwarra’s fat sale last Wednesday, and a further 900 went the next day at the store sale.
The sheep sale was also busier than usual, and more major sales will be held this week.
Despite the unprecedented numbers, buyers are paying good money according to Alex Scott & Staff’s Dave Holden.
“The prices have softened the blow of the drought,” he said.
“The driest year on record was 1914 (around 650mm), and in some areas we’re 200mm short of that level.”
The annual average is closer to 1000mm.
“But the quality of the cattle coming through has been good. The smart farmers haven’t had their properties over-stocked and they’ve been clever with fertilisers.”
Mr Holden said the higher numbers at the market last week showed that a lack of water was starting to bite.
“You don’t need as much feed in the summer, just water, because the cattle just drink and sit down in the shade.”
He said there was still strong interest from re-stockers, though.
“Some are worried that they won’t be able to buy cattle in a month or two, but we’ll see about that.”
He said the buying groups have helped the farmers get through, continuing to pay a fair price despite the quantities.
Numbers will again be high for tomorrow’s fat sale at Koonwarra, and plenty of interest is expected for SEJ’s 3rd Annual Feature Store Cattle Sale on Friday when 2000 head will be sold from 10am, also at Koonwarra.
Prices save farmers from drought impact