Polar opposites

Polar opposites


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As I write this article the current weather conditions in East Gippsland are the polar opposite to South Gippsland – one is under water and the other is as dry as a chip.

As I write this article the current weather conditions in East Gippsland are the polar opposite to South Gippsland – one is under water and the other is as dry as a chip.

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One weekend zero degrees and snowing and the other 33 degrees and bushfires – unreal.

I travelled from east to west regularly and the old weather line is very apparent with Rosedale across to Woodside where the rain stops. The East Gippsland lows never arrived this year which indicates how important they are to our region, even though when they come they often drop 100mm or more.

With the fall in livestock prices, I see farmers and agents guessing as to where the market will be in a few months time. For South Gippsland most potential purchasers are wary of dropping store prices and soaked muddy paddocks and are happy to just put a smaller number away and wait.

Farmers in the east have little feed, with dams getting low and feed stocks being fed out longer than in previous years and therefore looking to unload while prices are still reasonable.

The highs are gone and we wonder whether we will see them again in our lifetime? It did ignite a lot of enthusiasm and love back into farming allowing debt reduction and rundown pastures, yards, vehicles etc to get replaced.

Did you take full advantage of the extreme prices or get caught up with thinking it will go for a few more years and miss some of those opportunities? Even if you sent a small tray load of choppers, bull and odd steer and heifers it did return close to $20K which really put a focus on culling etc.

It has changed a lot in six months but it does pay to check back in your sales book to see this time three years ago what prices you were getting and you will feel better!

With cattle, prime lambs and wool doing so well the inquiry about animal health products either to save pregnancies, maintain health or improve growth has been noticeable, with farmers willing to invest more to capitalize on the current prices.

Although prices shouldn’t influence these decisions it does have an effect even when its only a small percentage of spend in a total farm budget.

A dead animal is a painful sight especially at the moment so its important to try and diagnose what was the cause so it doesn’t replicate.

This is the opposite in dairy, where costs at the moment are higher than income for some farmers, so they are only doing the necessities to keep operating. Animal health still remains a high priority which is important, because when the tide turns, you need your cows healthy and ready to reap the rewards when they come.

As you read this article the weather patterns look like they are finally changing with some rain in the north and pushing the moisture our way so hopefully some decent storms shortly enabling a good spring.

There is no doubt livestock has benefited from a dry winter in the east but now need the grass to maintain milk and growth. Even in a drought you still get 50pc of your average rainfall which means there’s a few inches to come this year so its all about timing, get it in the next week or so and get out of jail livestock prices will rally and hold or December when its all too late here’s hoping it arrives sooner than later.

Saoirse O'Riordan, Tipperary, Ireland, 
with Michael and Peter Miller, Tooradin, 
on Thursday at Pakenham. 
Photo by Jeanette Severs

Saoirse O'Riordan, Tipperary, Ireland, with Michael and Peter Miller, Tooradin, on Thursday at Pakenham. Photo by Jeanette Severs

*Neil Henderson is a senior sales representative livestock at Zoetis.

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