More than 300 bales of silage and hay has been made in the Shoalhaven region to help struggling drought-stricken farmers around Dubbo
Dairy farmers and rural contractors John, Andrea and Ryan Henry from Pyree have combined with Shoalhaven City Council to do their bit to help the cattle and sheep farmers who are struggling to even feed their stock.
Mr Henry approached the council after he noticed the council owned Wondalga Farm property in Nowra had been vacated and was producing “good feed”.
“I have mates out west, way out past Dubbo and I know how tough they are doing it and thought there had to be something we could do locally,” Mr Henry said.
He put a proposal to council to use his contracting machinery to produce silage and hay from the now unstocked property.
“The grass was growing well and it was a shame to see it just sitting there going to waste,” he said.
Mr Henry said he initially contacted the Buy A Bale organisation but was told they were not interested in the silage.
He then contacted farmers at Mendooran, between Dubbo and Gilgandra who welcomed any feed that might be available.
“They sent me some photos and it is horrific out there,” he said.
At least we have feed and it is growing. The guys out west have nothing - they are just dust bowls.Shoalhaven rural contractor and dairy farmer John Henry
“There literally is nothing. Now they are telling us it costs $250 a bale of hay. They can’t afford to pay that to try and feed their cattle or sheep.
“Yes, we have struggled here locally with the drought but those guys out west are certainly doing it a lot tougher. Some of these blokes haven’t had income for 12 months.”
He said reactions from the first few loads to arrive had been “overwhelming”.
“We have also arranged a few loads of pellets and syrup and the like from Manildra and it has been a godsend,” he said.
“One of the three farms that have received deliveries employees seven people, so there is a big knock on effect if they were to go under.
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“We are just getting this feed to those who are the most desperate.”
He said while the Shoalhaven was in what has been described as a “green drought”, where paddocks look green but were very dry, at least feed “was growing”.
“A huge difference to the guys out west which are just dust bowls,” he said.
Mr Henry has used his machinery and some of his employees to so far make more than 210 bales of silage and around 200 bales of hay.
“It’s only kikuyu silage and hay but it is better than nothing,” Mr Henry said.
More than 150 bales of silage has been transported out west and distributed to some of the most desperate farmers.
“A freight company from Dubbo has taken some loads and more will be taken by local truck driver Tony Connelly this weekend,” Mr Henry said.
Yes, we have struggled locally with the drought but those guys out west are certainly doing it a lot tougher. Some of these blokes haven’t had income for 12 months.Shoalhaven rural contractor and dairy farmer John Henry
“We have had some great support - we’ve had plastic and twine donated by Landpower and Lallemand Animal Nutrition, local fuel firm Kel Campbell has given us some fuel and local truck owner Tony Connelly has offered to take loads out west.”
Mr Henry would like to see something established where people can make donations to cover some of the ongoing costs to keep the effort going.
“Even if it’s just to help cover fuel costs of transporting the feed out west and some of the production costs,” he said.
“We’ve spent between $4000 and $5000 alone so far on fuel and labor.”
And while the regrowth is taking a little bit longer due to the lack of rain, they cut and baled more paddocks on Friday.
“We could definitely do with an inch of rain or so to kick things along.”
It is also in the middle of one of the busiest times for Mr Henry and his business with the annual corn harvest underway.
“It’s definitely the best corn season the area has had for a number of years,” he said.
“We have between 2500 and 3000 acres of corn to chop between the Shoalhaven, the Highlands and the Macarthur regions.
“It’s the best year we have had for many years - not only the quantity but quality.”
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