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North-west Victorian farmers line up for hay drop as drought continues to bite hard

By ABC rural reporter Kellie Hollingworth, Friday June 11, 2021 - 07:32 EST
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Meringur's Michael Callahan will be using some of the donated hay to feed his sheep. - ABC

Meringur farmer Andrew Kay is busy redistributing four road-trainloads of donated hay to his neighbours in the Millewa region in north-western Victoria.

While the rivers are overflowing in Gippsland, it's a very different scenario in the state's far north-west, where some farmers have had as little as 30mm of rain for the year.

"It's very, very dry. What stubble we did have from last year has very rapidly disappeared, with no green or anything in the paddocks at all," Mr Kay said.

"Livestock are starting to get very hungry and this is absolutely amazing, to help top up and finish cattle off."

Mr Kay has not sown a crop this year and has been holding out for more rain. 

"It doesn't look like we're actually going to get it," he said. "We'll just hang off a bit longer, but we can't wait too much longer because we'll run out of time and the ground will get too cold."

However, further east at Karawinna, Michael Callahan has finished his sowing program for the season. 

"We started about two months ago, sowing sheep feed, hoping it will rain and get it up, it's just starting to come up after the 15mm of rain we've had over the past three weeks."

Mr Callahan said he was hopeful of growing a good crop. 

"It's amazing how this country can turn around if we get 25-30mm of rain. That would last for two months as long as we get a good August and September. That's the main thing," Mr Callahan said.

"We have a lot of sheep locked up and feeding at the moment because it's very dry, so it will help a lot to get some of this hay."

Rural Aid's community representative in Victoria, Carly Noble, said it was nice to see farmers smile when the road trains loaded with hay arrived at Meringur. 

"Some are getting 24 bales, some are getting eight or 12. It just depends on the total number of livestock on the ground at the moment, but that will see them through another eight [to] 12 weeks."

But, for Ms Noble, the pick-up has not been just about collecting hay for livestock. There were also morning tea refreshments that, Ms Noble explained, had been donated by sponsors to encourage farmers to have a break and speak with their neighbours.

"Which is good for mental health," she said. 


© ABC 2021

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