Macedon Ranges farmers told to prepare for drought

Sunbury and Macedon Ranges livestock farmers are being urged to prepare for a dry finish to the year.

With the Bureau of Meteorology recently confirming an El Nino weather forecast, the state government is encouraging producers to review feed management plans, weigh up selling options and look at water reserves.

Farmer Angus Crawford, who raises sheep and cattle on 2000 hectares near Clarkefield, said rainfall totals since last spring had been disappointing.

‘‘We haven’t had rain run-off for a couple of years now, so the dams are dry,’’ Mr Crawford said.

‘‘We’ve been feeding our stock since Christmas.’’

Mr Crawford said it was crucial that farmers did not wait to make decisions about feed and water.

Lachlan King, leading animal health officer for the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, said farmers needed to prepare their budgets and make sure they had the flexibility to act early.

‘‘If there’s an El Nino event, it is often associated with drought and significant seasonal impact,’’ Mr King said.

‘‘If conditions deteriorate further, prices for sale stock may drop dramatically, agistment may become less available, fodder prices could rise and off-farm employment may become difficult to find.’’