Cracks appear as dry spell lingers

THE dams are drying up, feed levels are low and Lucknow sheep grazier John Blunt says he is starting to get worried.

Paddocks are browning off across the region and Mr Blunt is not the only farmer selling his stock.

“I’ve just sold off 200 ewes, that’s what you got to do,” he said.

“I’ve got rid of the old ewes because it was so tough, I might have got another year out of them in a good year.

“There will be another lot to go soon, probably another 150.”

While Mr Blunt says dry years are part of life on the land, some of his dams have not been this dry in a decade.

“We’ve had so many dry years, we just can’t seem to get back on our feet,” he said.

“It’s a lot worse than we expected, we didn’t really get a spring.”

Cudal cattle farmer Tom Kirkness said his stock would be okay “for a while”.

“It’s pretty widespread, if you’re not carrying too many  stock, it’s okay,”he said.

“It’s not as bad as last year when it [lack of feed] forced you to sell.

“We’ll start to worry about it in two months if we still haven’t had any decent rain.”

Tablelands Livestock Health and Pest Authority senior district veterinarian Bruce Watt said these graziers were not alone in their concerns.

“Farmers that have been around have been through this lots of times,” he said.

“It’s the sort of thing we wish didn’t occur, but we know occurs.

“Most people should have a strategy of what’s going to be sold, but I know there’s a vast range of experience out there.”

Mr Watt said the sensible strategy would be to sell some stock.

“Start selling reasonably early and sell a few at a time until you’re left with your core breeding stock,” he said.

“It’s a really tough situation and there’s very little pasture left, and people are running out of water in our part of the tablelands.

“You don’t know when it’s starting [the dry weather] and when it will finish.”

Despite his concerns about skinny lambs, a lack of water and dry dams, Mr Blunt says “you have to think positive.”

“We’ve got little to complain about compared to the guys further out west,” he said.”

nadine.morton@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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