Paddocks turn to dust as summer drought arrives

Farmers are asking where is La Nina as the weather pattern, noted for bringing above average rainfall, fails to deliver.

Late last year the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) announced we had entered a La Nina pattern but to date most of the Hunter and areas around Gloucester have received virtually no decent summer rains.

In fact the last time any worthwhile rain arrived, especially for the Upper Hunter, was in June last year.

Livestock producers are now not only facing no paddock feed but fast running out of  stock water supplies.

As conditions continue to deteriorate across the Hunter region, after little rain since winter, Hunter Local Land Services wants to remind landholders we are here to help.

Our staff have been engaging with local producers since conditions began to worsen, including providing on farm support to discuss pasture conditions, stock management, animal health and welfare concerns as well as issuing roadside grazing permits, assisting with pest animal problems and helping with referrals to other support services.

Water is becoming a critical issue across the region, with many on-farm supplies drying up. It’s not just quantity of water that’s a problem, District Vet Jane Bennett said the quality of some dams is also an issue.

“Poor quality water can impact on stock whose condition may already be impacted by the ongoing dry conditions,” said Upper Hunter District Vet Jane Bennett.

“It’s important anyone currently hand feeding stock ensure they receive enough water, as dry feed and the ongoing hot weather makes livestock increasingly thirsty.

“There are a number of health concerns that can arise from poor quality water including problems caused by blue green algae and salinity.”

Landholders are being urged to consider taking advantage of good market conditions by selling stock where possible, to reduce the physical, mental and financial burden on themselves of maintenance feeding.

Hunter Local Land Services has three producer updates planned in coming weeks, to provide additional expert for producers managing such a hard season. The workshops in Scone, Tocal and Wingham will be tailored to the current conditions in each district. The Upper Hunter event will focus on drought management advice and support options.

The workshops also provide producers an opportunity to get advice from industry experts and support staff, as well as social support of peers during these challenging times.

If you are concerned about your livestock or property please contact your nearest Local Land Services office today.

IF you need to talk to someone about the current conditions in the Hunter we can help.

If you have animal health concerns please contact our vet team on 0427 322 311 or 0439 185 275.

If you are experiencing pest animal problems please contact our biosecurity team on 0429 722 944 or 0429 342 995.

If you want to talk to our agricultural extension team call:

Sustainable Agriculture Officer Sarah Giblin: 0409785172

Regional Livestock Officer Kirstin Bisley: 0438593875

Regional Pastures Officer Justine Baird: 0428107206

If you wish to inquire about roadside grazing permits please contact our Scone office on 6540 2400 or our Merriwa office on 6548 2175.

For more staff contacts please refer to our website www.hunter.lls.nsw.gov.au

This story Farms turning into dustbowls first appeared on The Singleton Argus.

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