HAY stocks are reaching critical levels in the region with the prolonged dry spell starting to impact local farmers.
Prices have reached as much as $600 a tonne in the New England with farmers and suppliers forced to go further and further afield to source feed for their hungry cattle.
Gloucester Rural Supplies manager Troy Higgins said his business had sourced supplies of hay from as far away as West Wyalong to meet the local demand.
He said the demand for hay was at its highest for more than two decades.
“In 22 years I’ve never seen so much hay sold through the shop,” he said.
Typically, the business buys its stores of hay from the Tamworth area but even there supplies are dwindling.
“Anyone who has stock they’re trying to hold onto is behind the eight-ball a long way,” Rob de Groot from Leon’s Hay Sales in Gunnedah said.
“Parts of Queensland have been in drought for 18 months which means there’s very little feed around in this area.
“Our sheds are normally full this time of year but this year we don’t have a bale to our name. We’re pre-selling all our lucerne.
“We won’t begin harvest on the next lot for 10 days but we’ve sold the lot already.”
Mr Higgins said farmers locally were getting desperate with water supplies at some of their lowest levels since the late 1990s.
“The surface water isn’t there and the dams are drying up. Anyone on the Barrington River is OK because they can irrigate but outside that catchment it’s all hand feeding,” he said.