PASSION FOR SHEEP: Karen Huskisson is a wool and sheep grower from outside Tara.
PASSION FOR SHEEP: Karen Huskisson is a wool and sheep grower from outside Tara. Brooke Duncan

'It has taken its toll'

WOOL and sheep prices might be holding at strong highs, but as drought continues through much of Queensland not all growers can celebrate.

Karen Huskisson is a wool and sheep grower from outside Tara and runs her family merino and poll merino stud.

She explained ongoing drought conditions and high feed prices were starting to affect growers throughout the eastern states.

"It has taken its toll on everyone cause it's the whole eastern seaboard, it's right across eastern Australia,” Ms Huskisson said.

The drought, she explained, is causing a feed shortage with prices on the rise.

"Fodder's a big one for everybody because virtually there's no fodder locally, because none was grown,” she said.

"So even people down Wellington and that in NSW who mass produce fodder, hay... haven't produced any and they're actually buying fodder in to service their clients.

"So when you've got those people that normally mass grow fodder, hay, grain, whatever it is, not producing that it becomes very scarce and very valuable. So we'll probably see that same old scenario where the price will go through the roof for very inferior hay.”

And while prices are strong for wool and lamb, if the drought continues Ms Huskisson said people may have to start selling their breeding nucleus.

"Once they go it's going to be extremely hard to replace, those are extremely expensive.”

AgForce Sheep and Wool Board vice-president and treasurer Brett Smith said the sheep industry in Queensland overall is a "big rebuilding phase”.

"The wild dogs have been a big issue and we're starting to see a bit of success there with exclusion fencing, and then wool prices are at extraordinarily high levels, probably the best we've seen in 30 years so that's given everyone a lot of confidence to get up and get going on that side.”

But he also acknowledged the potential problem of feed shortages as dry weather continued.

"Feed supplies are getting restricted in general because it's quite dry across a lot of New South Wales and Queensland so feed is getting hard to source so that's proving a challenge.”

For both Mr Smith and Ms Huskisson, it comes down to getting much-needed rain.

"If we can get some decent summer rain, go back to our normal rainfall patterns Queensland sees we'll be pretty right,” Mr Smith said.

"Droughts will come and go, we're always going to have them and that's probably where sheep fit in, they can handle the dry time a lot better than other enterprises.”


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