WITH just a few weeks to go until local saleyards and processors wind down for the end of year break, Hunter Local Land Services (LLS) is urging producers in the Upper Hunter to consider how they are going to feed and manage water supplies for their livestock over summer.
One hundred per cent of the region is drought-affected, with more than half now classified as being in intense drought.
Hunter Local Land Services general manager Brett Miners said with severe drought and in some areas bushfires now impacting producers, it's more important than ever to be planning ahead.
"We are headed into our third summer affected by drought, an unusual occurrence in our region, and there is no significant rain forecast for the near future," he explained.
"While many producers have made the difficult choice to destock, we know there are still lots of landholders trying to hang onto their stock, despite issues with feed and water availability.
"We are urging producers to make realistic feed and water budgets and honestly consider their options.
"As things get hotter the water requirements of stock increase, and feed remains expensive and difficult to source due to the widespread drought.
"Please take time to understand the physical, emotional and financial costs of ongoing feeding and what other options there might be.
"In some cases it will be selling excess stock or destocking - and with Christmas looming, there will be limits to your marketing and processing opportunities."
Livestock sales in the region will finish as of December 19, with many not reopening until after January 5.
A number of processors are already also booked up into January.
"If you choose to hang onto your stock, make sure you reach out to your local rural supplier now to source quality feed," Mr Miners said.
"Hunter Local Land Services is offering free testing of feed, to help producers buying in feed be assured the purchased fodder is meeting the nutritional requirements of their stock and doesn't pose any threats to their health through issues like nitrate poisoning.
"If you need advice to help you make decisions about whether to feed or sell your livestock, contact the Hunter Local Land Services team for assistance on 1300 795 299."
The NSW Government's Drought Transport Subsidy can be applied to the cost of transporting fodder, water to a property for stock or domestic use, stock to and from agistment, stock to sale or slaughter.
The Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate scheme is available to eligible primary producers who can claim rebates of up to $25,000 on new purchases and installation costs of water infrastructure projects.
This includes the installation of pipes, water storage and water pumps, de-silting dams and associated power supplies such as generators.
Hunter Local Land Services has a dedicated drought administration officer, Anne Lantry, available to help you lodge applications with the NSW Rural Assistance Authority, including claiming Drought Transport Subsidies or the Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate Scheme.
You can make an appointment to meet her by phoning 1300 795 299.