FARMERS across South Gippsland are celebrating a bumper hay and silage season, with many unable to remember the last time they produced such a high volume of hay and silage.
Phillip Island farmer Ritchie Davie saw a 20 per cent increase on a normal year’s hay and silage round bale production, and he put the success down to a fantastic spring for farmers.
“It was a good season and we had the rain at the right time,” he said.
“It’s probably the best we’ve ever done in the last 12 years, which is about as long as I’ve been doing the figures for.
“This year we did 1200 bales – about 600 silage and 600 hay. Last year we did 200 silage and 270 hay.”
Ritchie began baling silage in mid-October, the typical starting time on Phillip Island. A wet October saw farmers predicting a late start to hay baling, but the rain stopped and Ritchie began baling at the usual dates for Phillip Island in mid-November.
“We were down a lot last year because of the bad spring so everyone really needed a good year to try and boost their stocks back up, and it worked well,” Ritchie said.
“We bought some last winter because we didn’t have enough and in the end it was a fairly kind winter.
“We only used about 20 or 30 of them so we had about 80 bales that I’d already bought, so I’ve got hay coming out of my ears at the moment. But it’s better to have it than not have it.”
Ritchie suggested another factor to consider for this year’s hay success was that farmers aren’t running the amount of cattle they normally would, due to the exceptionally good market prices.
“They’re a bit short of stock and therefore it’s expensive to buy back in, so people have decided not to buy back in and not pay the big money,” he said.
“They’ve probably got more grass and more paddocks available than what they normally would, which is certainly our case.
“We were probably down about 25 per cent in cattle numbers through the spring, so it left the opportunity to cut a lot more grass.”
A Korumburra hobby farmer had a similar story, with two paddocks yielding 80 square bales last year. The family was thrilled to pick up 470 square bales last week in another success story.