Stock water supplies the biggest headache coming into summer

ON EMPTY: Livestock water supplies critical now summer has arrived. Producers are being advised to act early to ensure the best outcomes. Photograph: Marina Neil
ON EMPTY: Livestock water supplies critical now summer has arrived. Producers are being advised to act early to ensure the best outcomes. Photograph: Marina Neil

It could be called our drought refrain – sell, sell sell. 

But that is the best advice to livestock producers in the Hunter Valley faced with critical waster shortages as another summer arrives.

Producers in districts that received decent rainfall in October or the latest downpour along more coastal districts maybe in the fortunate position to amply supplies of stock water.

The same cannot be said for producers in the Upper Hunter and Hunter Local Land Services, district veterinarian Jim Kerr said with cattle prices remaining okay if water is an issue act earlier and sell your stock.

“The question for many landholders is where will the water come from? So if you don’t have an answer to that question then sell livestock before it becomes an animal welfare issue,” he said.

“There is a great deal of talk about supplying water to farmers but no real instructions on how to undertake this task. Summer is here so water demand will increase for your livestock. Please act early.”

Hunter LLS advise there are significant animal health issues that arise from poor quality water, including problems caused by blue green algae.

Please also consider providing troughs or fencing stock away from dams where possible as stock are becoming trapped/bogged in dams with low water levels.

It is important to remember that animals being handfed or lactating and hot weather also increases water needs (up to 100 litres a day).

Please also consider temperature stress and ensure adequate shade or shelter is available, especially for vulnerable animals like young stock.

Thanks to some rainfall across the state cattle prices have lifted from their lows of August-September and the recent rainfall event may further boost demand and prices.

With this in mind options for feeding have improved in part as supplies of new season hay have started to arrive. 

However producers are reminded of the need to ensure the quality of the hay they purchase. Feed tests are a useful tool in assisting producers to know what quality of feed they are dealing with and how to use it in a ration. Results for basic tests can take 3 – 10 working days depending on the type of test. 

Poor quality hay is  not only unpalatable, but as producers in the Lower Hunter are discovering, thanks to rainfall and warm weather it brings the risk of serious weed infestations.

Monitor incoming fodder for any unwanted hitch hikers. There have been reports of snakes and ticks in hay from outside areas.

Remember it is critical to plan ahead and to make decisions when you still have options.