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Farmers enjoy cash cows

BUMPER TIME: Cattle farmer Mick Hain has made more sales so far this year than in 2014. Picture: Max Mason-HubersHUNTER cattle farmers are facing a promising autumn with strong stock prices and good growing conditions.

Cattle prices are between 50 and 60¢ a kilogram higher than this time last year, and while prices have dropped slightly from the three year high five weeks ago, Bowe and Lidbury stock and station agent Rodney McDonald is adamant the good prices will continue.

He said the drop related to the ‘‘supply and demand in the market’’, and there had been ‘‘a little bit of an oversupply of cattle which has brought the price back’’.

Farmers are cashing in on the good prices and restocking to make the most of the feed in their paddocks.

Others are choosing to make hay from those paddocks instead.

‘‘When you’ve got excess feed you’ll make hay or buy more cattle, and when most people are buying cattle you’ll see the price change and that’s what’s happened here,’’ Mr McDonald said.

‘‘Cattle coming off a well-run farm that are fat and in good condition will fetch a good price, and every week you’ll see some cattle a bit dearer and some a bit, depending on the quality of the animal.’’

Mr McDonald said the region needed at least 25 millimetres of rain each week to ‘‘keep the ground moist and keep the feed growing in the paddocks’’.

‘‘The Lower Hunter is going a lot better than elsewhere in the state like the west and north-west because we’ve had more moisture.’’

Tarro cattle farmer Mick Hain earned more money from the cattle he sold this year than he did during a sale at the end of 2014.

He agreed the ‘‘trend looked good’’ but emphasised that the fluctuating price made it difficult for farmers to make a decent living.

He has 80 head on his property and said the hours he had to put in to fatten the cattle often outweighed the money he made.

He thinks the future of ‘‘mum and dad farms’’ is bleak, and breeding and selling cattle will become more of a ‘‘lifestyle’’ choice, rather than the sole income stream.

‘‘I got a good price in comparison to what it has been in the last few years, but I think it’s still not a sustainable price for people like me who are trying to make an income,’’ he said.

‘‘The money you get impacts on your farm operations and your own lifestyle.

‘‘If you don’t get a good price then you miss out and your family misses out.’’

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