A statewide issue is affecting saleyards in the Southern Highlands.
Drought is tightening its grip on farmers, with some forced to sell or euthanise their cattle.
The problem has presented itself at the Southern Regional Livestock Exchange (SRLX) in Moss Vale, where some farmers have had their underweight or weak cattle turned away, due to animal welfare guidelines.
Underweight or weak animals are often unable to be moved from the farm to the saleyards due to safety concerns.
Jim Hindmarsh from the Southern Regional Livestock Exchange said four animals were turned away in the last fortnight.
“People are selling because they can’t feed them or get feed. They can’t go back home,” he said.
“There’s only one thing they can do with them. It’s sad because people become attached to their cattle.
“It’s not restricted to [the Southern Highlands], it could happen anywhere.”
Wingecarribee Shire councillor Duncan Gair has been the chair of the SRLX advisory committee for 19 years.
“I have every sympathy for people with underweight cattle, but if we take cattle and they can’t be sold because they’re underweight or something happens to them [in transit] then we have to dispose of them. That attracts a $240 fee for the owner,” Councillor Gair said.
“It’s a bit extraordinary for the Wingecarribee Shire and the rest of NSW to be drought declared, and of course the shortage of feed. Even in bad years, it’s hasn’t been as bad as this.”
Department of Primary Industries chief animal welfare officer Kim Filmer said animals needed to be assessed before being loaded onto a truck.
“It’s the responsibility of the farmer and the driver,” Ms Filmer said. “If either is unsure the Local Land Services or stock and station agents can determine this. I’d encourage farmers to de-stock early if they think their animals are declining in condition.”
Visit www.mla.com.au for a guide to transporting cattle and ‘fit to load’ guidelines.