Extremely hot and dry weather has prevailed over much of northern Victoria over the past week.
North of the divide, most of the Wimmera, Mallee and north eastern areas struggled with consecutive days well above 40 degree Celsius.
Closer to the coast, in western Victoria and Gippsland more modest temperatures were recorded.
The Bureau of Meteorology has updated their February-April 2019 outlook and at this stage there is no respite from the above average temperatures for south eastern Australia. Rainfall is projected to be below the median for much of Victoria for the next three months.
Feed costs remain a challenge for many in the dairy industry. Across the north east of Victoria not only are feed costs high but water prices remain above $400/mega litre.
In Gippsland, farmers in the MID area also remain uncertain about future water allocations. Pastures have dried off and autumn calving is just around the corner.
Poor conditioned cows or those who fail to fall into calf are being culled and cow numbers continue to fall. This is occurring at a time when global milk prices continue to improve. Last week at the Global dairy trade auction, the first for 2019, whole milk powder lifted another four per cent, its single largest increase in 12 months.
Domestic processors have yet to adjust local milk prices, hopefully an adjustment is just around the corner.
Hay prices remain subdued as pastures dry off across western Victoria and Gippsland.
Dairy farmers across this part of Victoria ended up producing bountiful supplies of hay and silage. In some of the better areas, dairy farmers were able to produce supplies of hay and silage that will keep them going for two to three years.
Some dairy farmers have taken the opportunity to supplement their income by selling off their surplus hay and silage to their neighbouring farmers.
This local hay, mostly second cut lucerne, and pasture hay is being priced very competitively compared to hay that has to be brought from further away. Local hay has little if any freight attached to it, allowing farmers to secure better deals.
Further north in the pastoral areas of the Wimmera and Mallee regions of Victoria extensive livestock farmers, especially fine wool and fat lamb producers, are in need of supplementary fodder as pastures dissipate with the hot weather.
Limited pasture hay has required them to buy in cereal and canola hay to keep their stock in good condition.