Dairy

Farmer heart-broken at herd sale

By Country News

Nathan McGann worked out it was going to cost him about $170000 to get his 150-cow milking herd through the next seven months to spring.

Best-case scenario he was looking at a $34000 shortfall; worst-case scenario he had no idea where the numbers would finish.

The Cohuna farmer made the business decision to sell his herd and, at the start of February, they boarded a semi and left for their new home at Maffra.

Mr McGann had spoken to his stock agent well before Christmas and had a buyer lined up but it was still an extremely stressful time and a hard decision.

‘‘It was purely economical but I am still sad and emotionally I am buggered,’’ he said.

‘‘I could no longer afford to be sentimental, I am running a business and financially it just didn’t work any more.’’

Mr McGann knew at the start of the season things were going to be tough.

He had dried his autumn calvers off early and was milking 90 spring cows to stretch the milking feed as far as he could.

‘‘I said to myself if it didn’t rain by a certain time the cows would have to go so I sold the lot. I have milked cows for 25 years and I had my favourites, but I had to sell them all and I do miss them.’’

Mr McGann still has his young stock but the way things are going, he is thinking they will probably go too.

But he still insists he is one of the lucky ones.

He can survive on off-farm income because he has another career as a nurse, but he worries about others in his community who aren’t so fortunate.

‘‘Five years ago there were 62 farms from Gunbower through to Cohuna that milked cows, now there are just 17 and more will go in the future.

‘‘In the last drought it was the 60-year-olds that got out, now it’s down to the 50-year-olds, all the young start-up farms and the 40-year-olds who are pulling the pin.

‘‘Lending has tightened up and land price is devaluing significantly. People are leaving the area which flows on to business, schools and the general community.’’