Hay prices in the south-west have skyrocketed, imposing further hardship on the region’s dairy farmers.
Dairy Australia said hay prices in the south-west had increased by 83 per cent since January, pushed up by strong demand from drought-stricken areas elsewhere in eastern Australia.
The Australian Fodder Industry Association said the price for cereal hay in the south-west was currently about $275 a tonne, up from $170 a tonne at the same time last year, a 62 per cent increase.
Fodder was becoming difficult to source in the region, the association said.
Glenn Logan of Logan Contracting at Ecklin near Terang said demand for hay had tripled on last year.
His company was this year sending hay as far as northern NSW, much further than usual.
It was drawing hay from across Victoria and into South Australia to meet demand, Mr Logan said.
The fodder association said prices steadied last week with lucerne hay selling for $300-$380/t, pasture hay for $200-$260/t and straw for $140-$165/t.
WestVic Dairy regional manager Lindsay Ferguson said late autumn rains this year and the St Patrick’s Day fires had left many farmers without fodder reserves and paying high hay prices to feed their stock.
Mr Ferguson said while the wet winter had laid a good basis for the next hay season, the long range weather forecast was uncertain about whether good crucial spring rains would arrive.
“We are encouraging people to plan for high prices and a hay shortage,” he said.
“We are running workshops on cash flow budgeting and on using some of the feed tools to help people plan for good use of fodder,” Mr Ferguson said.
The Bureau of Meteorology’s is forecasting most of mainland Australia is likely to be drier than average from August to October.
Dairy Australia managing director David Nation said it recognised “a feed shortage is the last thing the industry needs after a difficult few years, but we feel confident in the strength of the dairy community, and the ability to draw on our experience in managing feed shortages and challenging operating environments.”