DRIED OUT: Saleyards prices and attendees thin out as the Christmas break nears.
DRIED OUT: Saleyards prices and attendees thin out as the Christmas break nears.

‘It will be a disaster’: Farmers fear summer without rain

A WEEK out from the year's final cattle sales, Warwick yards were slowing down in a time when farmers were becoming desperate for the extra cash.

Sale attendees saw the price of cattle sink lower on the market this Tuesday, with some farmers even reporting sales as low as 20c per kg.

For Clifton farmer John Rohde, it was a sign of what was to come.

"You think it's serious now. If it doesn't break (the drought) by February, god help us," he said.

"It will be a disaster. There'll be no feed whatsoever."

Mr Rohde had seen his breeding stock shrink from 70 to 30 head, which he knew he would pay for when the rain returned.

"You're halving production. No matter which way you put it, that's what you're doing," he said.

Spring Creek farmer Paul Millard agreed with Mr Rohde as he said watching breeders being sent off to slaughterhouses was the most gut-wrenching part of visiting the yards.

"You can't replace females because you bred them up for years and years," Mr Milliard said.

"The worst thing I've seen here is the young cows coming through. The potential and future breeders that are getting their heads cut off and going straight to the works.

"That's the worst part."

Mr Millard was supposed to be seeing family this Christmas, but had to cancel due to his responsibilities on the farm.

"You work harder in a drought than you do in other times. You're constantly feeding, morning and night, monitoring water. You can't go away," he said.

"It would have been bloody good to get away for a couple of days out there but we can't do that now."

Mr Milliard had also seen how the conditions had driven away young farmers from his region and worried that drought and debt signalled future obstacles for the industry.

"I was at a local feed produce night and I looked around the room and there was no young fellas, they were all old," he said.

"The future of farming in that respect doesn't look too crash hot.

"And there's a reason for it. They can't make money from it."

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