Winter proving a struggle for Oberon farmers as dry continues

Winter proving a struggle for Oberon farmers as dry continues

FARMERS in the Oberon region continue to feel the sting as the big dry grinds on.

With a lack of run-off from rain, dams are being cleaned dry and feed prices for livestock have sky-rocketed.  

Member of the NSW Farmers Association and Oberon farmer Hugh Webb said farmers in the region need rain now or it will be a severe summer. 

“It’s been a tough enough winter, very tough. We’ve had enough rainfall to help tick us over, but how often do you see people cleaning out their dams in winter?” he asked.

“Normal winters in Oberon are wet and the dams are always full. But people are cleaning them out in the middle of July because there’s no run-off. That’s how dry it is.

“But saying that, after such a tough summer and autumn, if we had a wet and cold winter, a lot of people would’ve been in a hell of a lot of trouble. Stock would’ve been really knocked around with a cold, wet winter.”

Mr Webb said there is pressure on livestock feed right now because of calving cows and lambing ewes.

He said Oberon, for the month of August, has fared well in terms of rainfall, with some rain gauges across the region receiving between 20 and 50 millimetres.

“It’s been fairly general rain, not hard rain. However, that’s what we need to help things tick over until things start to warm up in September,” he said.

“A big heap of rain right now will be no good, because it’ll put too much pressure on livestock. We need rain in September, October and November and the outlook is not too flash.

“Farmers in Oberon should be recognised for the hard work they’ve put in to get their livestock through winter because feed prices are going through the roof. If there’s not a correction soon, I reckon we’ll be heading for a train smash in NSW.” 

Mr Webb said one of the worst droughts he remembered was in 1983, which affected most of Australia.

That year saw an El Niño develop in June, which made conditions much worse.

He believes the current drought began in late 2016.