DIRE seasonal conditions across the district are forcing farmers to offload stock in record numbers.
With insufficient rain to sustain pasture growth and the price of hay going through the roof, producers are finding they have no choice but to sell.
The Central Tablelands Livestock Exchange (CTLX) near Carcoar was teeming with cattle, sheep and lambs at the first sales for the new year, held on Tuesday and Wednesday.
It was an all-time record sale for this time of year after a two-week break for Christmas.
CTLX manager Nathan Morris said yesterday there were some big numbers yarded.
“We had 30,000 sheep and lambs and 3500 head of cattle which is a record since we opened for the first sale of the year,” he said.
“There’s been virtually nothing since we had that rain on Christmas Day.
“Everyone is selling. With no sales for the past couple of weeks they just couldn’t hang on any longer and had to offload.
“While I wouldn’t say we are in drought, the seasonal conditions aren’t good. At this stage there’s not a significant amount of stock that’s drought affected. In fact, a lot are still in reasonable nick.”
Mr Morris believes livestock sales at CTLX will be even bigger next week, despite a few storms passing through the district.
“It shows the desperation everyone is feeling at the moment,” he said.
“People are having to get rid of stock rather than getting caught hand-feeding, where the hay bills can really build up quickly.
“The trouble is hay is so dear at the moment ... that’s if you can get hold of it. It’s getting just about impossible to find and, if you do, it’s so expensive and going up with every passing day.”
CTLX is holding a store cattle sale next Friday and is advertising around 3000 head.
“They are mostly weaners being sold off because of the seasonal conditions,” he said. “However, by sale day I reckon we will have more like 5000 head going under the hammer.
“At least prices are reasonable still for quality stock, but the market is slipping for anything that’s a bit off the boil because there’s not much demand for trade stock that’s not well finished.
“The thing is the numbers we are seeing at present have to end soon because it’s just not sustainable. People have to run out of stock at some stage and that point will come within the next few months.
“That means we’re probably going to be in for a quiet winter here and then it’s a matter of producers going through a rebuilding stage with, hopefully, some decent rain.”