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It's getting tough. Very tough.

It is a very tough time at the moment for the sheep industry in Australia, and yet, sheep meat demand and prices are very high outside of Australia. It would be nice if the weather was the only cause of the sheep industry's woes at the moment! Governments continue to cause food production strife in Australia that is far more damaging than a drought.

As you can see from the rainfall chart below, we have been relatively very dry since October 2023, and since November, we have had a very hot and windy summer. And it is not over yet. February is usually our hottest month.

However, my favourite grass (kikuyu) continues to hang in there trying to grow as you can see in the photos taken this week. Unfortunately, the downside of our highish stocking rates (was over 50 DSE/ha), is that the sheep are rotating through the paddocks very quickly now - only 1-2 days in each paddock for our mobs greater than 2,000 sheep. There is no significant bulk in the pastures for the sheep anymore and we are now supplementing with straw and grain. Hay is not available from most sources. Sold out.

Even though it has been so hot (many days 37-45C so far), windy, and very dry, the kikuyu is greening up within days of being eaten to the ground, over and over.

We have sold some sheep at long last for a reasonable price, but to a market over 3,000km away. Freight took a large chunk of that income, but we have been unable to sell sheep to abattoirs here in Western Australia, so far. That looks like it is changing soon, so hopefully there will be some openings at the abattoirs for our sheep, and at a reasonable price.

We have an autofeeder in a gravel pit that we have started using with some selected ewes and lambs, and will put 2,000+ lambs in there with them, however, sensor breakdowns are delaying us putting the lambs into this holding area. We ideally need two more autofeeders so that we can take a few thousand more sheep off the paddocks and let the kikuyu grow. When the rains come, ideally we will keep as many sheep as possible off the paddocks for a few more weeks to let the kikuyu run again and bulk up. We would then have a wedge of feed ahead of each rotation and the ground cover would be better.

Alas, we only have one autofeeder at the moment, and hay is no longer available, and grain and pellets are very expensive. And on top of that, it is still very hard to get sheep into the markets. If we manage to get a few hundred in, the price here in Western Australia is woeful (eg <$1.50/kg carcass weight for mutton).

Despite the gloom and tough times, most of our ewes and lambs are looking good. The ewes in-lamb are due to lamb from 25th March to the end of April, so it would be nice if we had multiple soaking rains before then to get the kikuyu growing faster. The 220 SIL ewes (born 2022) we have for sale are still with us and in 10 more days, they will be staying here because we will not be allowed to freight them. They will be only one month away from starting to lamb. They are in very good condition despite such hot and tough conditions for the past few months.

Hopefully the next few weeks will bring better news, and some rain.

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