Where will supply come from in early 2019?
It is the hot question at the moment in the aftermath of one of the worst droughts ever experienced still weighing heavily on everyone’s minds.
The drought pressure on east Gippsland producers remain, both financially and in terms of the quality and supply of the remaining livestock in the region.
Despite some rain having fallen in the past fortnight, drought is still the determining factor on future quality and supply, with conditions deteriorating in across the state.
Last month marked the third-driest October on record for Tasmania, according to Bureau of Meteorology, with rainfall in the lowest 10 per cent of historical rainfall totals for the month in Tasmania, south and west Gippsland, and scattered along the Victorian coastline.
In the past month, I have flown over drought affected areas of NSW and Queensland, and never seen the country so barren, and a sever lack of water.
Many dams remain empty and all of the major water supply were at a minimum 50pc full.
For Victorians, but also some producers further north, the impact of these prolonged dry conditions will affect our major weaner cattle sales in the next two months.
Victoria’s weaner sales normally commence in December with Euroa bringing their annual black cattle sale forward one month and held yesterday, Wednesday.
The Western District sales had a smaller than average offering last year, according to Lanyon & Co’s, Warren Clark, Hamilton, with this year’s offering expected to be on average to previous year, while weight and condition is expected to be good quality.
However, Corcoran Parker director Cameron Hilton said drought had affected supply in the North East, and forecast an estimated more than a 10pc decrease in the weaner sale series offering.
But Mr Hilton said if it remained dry there could be an influx of spring drop calves offered, which would see numbers similar to 2018.
Both the Western District and the North East are the major calf sales for the year, and can see up to 50,000 steer and heifer calves sold over a three week period.
Also in this time-frame is Wangaratta and Yea, both of which will be affected by supply and quality this year because of the dry conditions throughout 2018.
In March and early April, there is Myrtleford, which has experienced the best rainfall in the North East so should supply similar numbers to last year.
Elders David Hill and Morgan Davies, Omeo and Bairnsdale based, both estimated supply at the annual Mountain Calf Sales series in March would be back 20pc on 2018 sales, with sales at Gelantipy and Bairnsdale similar reduced supply.
Many of the older cows from herds in East Gippsland have been culled with calves already sold. While this will affect the autumn calf sales, the impact would truly be felt in 2020 as producers seek to rebuild their herds.
The affect on price will be solely determined by the weather. If the current patterns continue then producers will not buy as many.
While sufficient late spring and summer rain would result in supply hold, weather experts are predicting El Nino conditions which would create a drier than usual monsoon season – effectively evaporating chances of an early herd recovery.