Another blow for farmers

Mr Graham Schutz, clearing hay off a fence at Kym and Sandy Rathjen’s property on the corner of Lablacks Road, Cookes Hill and Main Road, Springton on Sunday.

Strong wind last Friday has blown recently cut hay out of paddocks and across roads, causing headaches for farmers enduring another dry season.

Drivers travelling from Angaston along the Eden Valley Road through Mount McKenzie, Eden Valley and Springton viewed hay piled up along the roadside and clogging fences in a sight that has resulted in considerable loss for affected land owners.

Mrs Sandy Rathjen, of Glenjoy Friesian Stud, said westerly winds had blown some of their recently cut pasture away before they had a chance to bale it.

“It was close to being baled and it was quite dry. So, because the wind was so severe, it just blew all up against the fence,” Sandy said.

“We probably lost between 80 and 100 big rolls…One of our bales is 6×5, that’s probably the equivalent of 30 small bales….So, you are looking roughly at about 3,000 small square bales that we lost.”

Their employee, Mr Graham Schutz, was clearing the hay off the fence on Sunday morning, trying to salvage stock feed.

“He will recover some…That’s just what has been caught up in the fence but there was a lot flying over the road and I don’t know where it’s ended up. Somebody must have a lot of hay somewhere!” Sandy said.

“It was sort of heading east…there were other paddocks where we just recently cut and it was still quite green so they haven’t been affected because there is still quite a lot of moisture in it.”

The loss has added extra pressure for farmers who have already been buying in feed for their animals.

“Last year and this year we have had to buy hay to keep things going,” said Sandy.

“Normally we make all our own hay so we don’t have to buy it in, enough to support all the animals we have on the property. So we milk about 200 head of dairy cattle, we’ve got close to 1,000 sheep and about 100 head of beef cattle.

“We’ve definitely had a better year this year than we did last year, but it’s probably still below average.”

More hay was piled thickly against the fence line of Vic Patrick’s property on the edge of Eden Valley Road.

The beef farmer said it was hard to estimate his loss.

“I don’t know exactly how much it would be… If it was the same as last year it would be a couple of hundred bales gone,” he told The Leader on Monday.

“The contractor is coming out either late today or tomorrow to see if there is anything worth salvaging. There might be 10 percent of the paddock or 20 percent that we might get something off, but the majority of it has

The hay on his property was cut, ready to be windrowed and baled. However, nature got to it first, meaning Vic will need to buy in feed for the second year in a row.

“It’s just a nuisance because that’s the hay we were going to feed our next lot of cattle. You feed the cattle you buy in January on the hay you’ve cut in Spring,” said Vic.

“It’s not a disaster, but it’s a major inconvenience. It basically means instead of feeding our own hay, I’ll be purchasing it.”

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