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Hunter producers rising to the challenge

Hunter Local Land Services wants to pay tribute to the local farming community as the region heads into a second spring severely affected by drought.

Drought now affects 100 per cent of New South Wales and in the Upper Hunter Valley in particular the conditions have been very difficult for in excess of 18 months.

Upper Hunter District Vet Jane Bennett said the longevity of this drought has led to many having to make tough decisions.

"The Hunter is traditionally considered a safe region but unfortunately the ongoing dry conditions have led to the worst drought in living memory, forcing many people to have to sell nearly everything, including core breeding stock," said Dr Bennett.

"I want to give to credit local producers for the huge effort they have put into maintaining their stock, and the majority of cattle coming through the sale yards locally are in remarkably good health considering the season.

"Given the challenges in sourcing quality feed and the cold, harsh winter we have just faced the fact so many producers are still turning off quality cattle is a sign of how robust local farmers are."

The Hunter Local Land Services team is assisting landholders to make important decisions regarding animal health and nutrition, as feed is becoming increasingly scarce.

"A lot of people who were trying to hold onto stock are now choosing to destock further, often cutting into their core breeding herd or fully destocking and we know this is an incredibly difficult time," said Dr Bennett.

"With many animals now calving and the cows requiring additional nutrition to feed offspring, it is more important than ever to be making those tough decisions early.

"As with last spring we will be advocating for producers maintaining breeding stock to wean early where possible, as it seems we are facing an uncertain forecast in the near future."

While the majority of the cattle have been in excellent condition, Hunter Local Land Services have been assisting the RSPCA with some welfare cases in our region. We understand no producers deliberately let stock condition slip away and the high cost and lack of available feed such as hay and silage has led to some difficult situations.

Many producers in the Lower Hunter and Manning Great Lakes are now also implementing their drought plans as the seasonal conditions have again deteriorated during winter.

Hunter Local Land Services district vet team and agricultural extension officers are available to discuss your herd's health and nutrition needs one on one.

Regional Livestock Officer Kirstin Bisley is also being supported by independent beef industry expert Bill Hoffman who is available to discuss individual producers situations in light of the ongoing drought.

The Upper Hunter team will be holding another round of ‘drought drop in sessions’ in coming weeks for producers wanting to discuss their weaning and feeding plans for spring.

More information about times, dates and locations will be released soon.

Our District Vets:
Scone - Jane Bennett 0427 322 311
Singleton - Kristi Arnot 0409 758 823
Maitland - Kylie Greentree 0428 498 687
Tocal - Jim Kerr 0439 185 275
Wingham - Lyndell Stone 0429 532 855

Regional Livestock Officer Kirstin Bisley: 0438 593 875

Regional Pastures Officer Justine Baird: 0428 107 206

Agronomy Officer Peter Beale: 0427 007 468

Agricultural Extension Officers
Scone Sarah Giblin: 0409 785 172
Tocal Col Freeman: 0428 043 427
Wingham Albert Mullen: 0428670 524

Independent beef consultant: Bill Hoffman: 0458 505 999