Feeding stock is the next problem
Farmers have been left with no feed for stock after the fires wiped out everything on their properties. Photo: Jay Cronan
Farmers on burnt-out properties in southern NSW are desperately seeking feed supplies for sheep and cattle that have survived the bushfires this week.
The NSW government and NSW Farmers' Association have established an emergency fodder donation register and are calling on landholders in unaffected parts of the state to donate reserves of grain and hay.
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Farmers in natural disaster-declared areas could also be eligible for freight subsidies of up to 50 per cent for the transport of livestock and fodder, up to a maximum of $15,000.
"At this point authorities estimate some 10,000 stock, mostly sheep, have perished or have had to be put down,'' NSW Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson said.
"In the worst cases properties have been left without a blade of grass to feed livestock - this register is one way of helping farming families recover from this devastating event.''
Harden Shire mayor Chris Manchester said paddocks in Jugiong had been almost entirely wiped out for some landholders, leaving them with nothing to feed their surviving livestock.
''There's a real call for fodder like grain and hay,'' he said.
''They've got nothing to eat and the sooner they get something in the better.
''At the moment we are relying on donations.
''What we really need is five or six inches of soaking rain as soon as possible,'' Cr Manchester said.
Peter Williamson, a jackaroo on a Kybeyan Road property near Nimmitabel, said the farm was desperate for food for sheep and cattle that had survived a fire that burnt through 1200 hectares.
''We've got enough feed just to last the day,'' he said. ''Tom [the property owner] is going out because we've got to try to get feed. He said this is worse than drought.''
NSW Farmers' Association president Fiona Simson said that with a decent fall of rain, grassland could be restored on some properties within a month.
But in the meantime, landowners at Yass, Jugiong, Cooma, Tarcutta and Ivanhoe needed assistance.
Ms Simson said the donation register could be accessed online by farmers in need of help and those willing to donate.
''The north of the state particularly has had better rainfall than most areas and there may be people there who have reserves of fodder who might be in a position to donate it,'' she said.
''We are seeking those people.
''It's very distressing because for some years now they haven't had a good track of feed because of drought and now we're in a situation where they've lost thousands of acres of grass.
''It's hugely stressful for them and they're dealing with enough stress already.''
The fodder donation register is available at the NSW Department of Primary Industries website at www.dpi.nsw.gov.au.
Donations can also be registered by contacting 1800 814 647.