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Life is getting tougher by the day for farmers

COST OF LIVING: Ethan Carter feeds the family’s blonde d’aquitaine bull at Widgee, where times are tough and getting tougher.
COST OF LIVING: Ethan Carter feeds the family’s blonde d’aquitaine bull at Widgee, where times are tough and getting tougher. Renee Pilcher

THE Carter family of Widgee is like so many rural families struggling through the drought - there are just not enough hours in the day.

Hay is becoming increasingly scarce and almost impossible to get hold of locally.

It is not cheap, and is getting more expensive as the drought endures.

The Carters made a lifestyle choice many years ago to live at Widgee and run cattle.

Jo's husband works away in the mines and Jo at the Widgee school.

Her 17-year-old son Ethan helps run the 100ha family farm, as well as working at the Daddamarine cattle property at Booubyjan.

Despite the hardship of the drought, Ethan still loves being a farmer and hopes to be able to do it always.

The drought has hit the Carters hard, but Jo is quick to point out that it has hit other families much harder.

The Carters have almost no feed for their 70 head of droughtmaster and droughtmaster-cross, but at least they have water.

Every day when Jo arrives home from work, she and her children round up a paddock of their cattle and take them out to the road reserve to graze until nightfall.

"To try to buy feed locally now is almost impossible," she says.

"We have to go a long way to get it.

"The closest I could get it (last time) was Kumbia.

"Most people who are doing hay now have sold before they even have it baled.

"There is just not enough to go around so it's very expensive."

A round bale of grassy lucerne costs about $170, and is enough to feed about six head for a week.

Trying to offload cattle at market is getting tougher with the worsening glut.

The official report from the Gympie pig and calf sale this week said "a large offering of 705 saw the market much cheaper for all descriptions".

That is putting it mildly.

Dairy calves sold for as little as $2 per calf on Monday, and the highest price was $10 a calf.

Prime calves, two to six weeks old, sold for as little as $12 each.

It would barely be enough to cover the cost of petrol to get them into town.

Bookings are closed for the next two cattle sales, and anyone wanting to consign calves is asked to contact Sullivan Livestock and Rural Services first.

Topics:  drought editors picks farming

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