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Cows and chillies swelter

Eliza Rogers, Tuesday January 7, 2014 - 16:20 EDT
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Out in the elements: crops and stock suffer in hot dry weather. - ABC

The sweltering temperatures sweeping Queensland have taken their toll on animals and crops.

One dairy producer in the state's south-east says milk production has dropped by 20 per cent.

Producers are being urged to do their feeding and watering early in the morning or later in the evening, putting pressure on input and labour costs.

Gympie sweated through 42.4 degrees on January 4, a nudge above the previous record of 42 degrees in 2001.

Livestock agent and dairy farmer, John Cochrane, says the weather is affecting the cow's milk production.

"The cattle are getting into the shade - they're not getting out eating - so if they're not consuming feed, well then they're not putting on weight and they're not producing milk," he said.

Further north, Australia's largest chilli producer is working double time to keep up water to thirsty plants.

AustChilli is pumping huge amounts of water and fertiliser onto one million plants at its Bundaberg farm, where temperatures have reached 36 degrees.

Director, Trent DePaoli, says the intensive all-day watering means labour costs are high.

"It's a matter of the existing staff having to work a lot more hours," he said.

"Morning and night time is the best result in terms of water uptake and there's efficiencies, obviously, with running electricity with watering at night time versus the day time.

"But your offset of that is you've got staff watering at night time instead of day time."


© ABC 2014

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