Disasters cause food shortage

Rueben HaleThe West Australian

A major livestock feed supplier has warned demand for nutrients in the wake of the fires and freak storms could outstrip supply.

It has been a tumultuous time for southern livestock producers after what has been called "the unstoppable fire" burned through more than 30,000ha of rich agricultural farmland, leaving a trail of burnt-out pastures in its wake.

The fire had an impact on more than 410 agricultural properties in the Yarloop, Harvey and Waroona areas, with many producers relying on feed donations to keep their animals nourished.

Last week's sudden freak storms in the State's southern region added more woes for producers.

The downpour added to feed supply shortages after rainfall as high as 150mm in some areas drowned thousands of hectares of valuable dry pastures and left many producers with no alternative than to hand-feed their soaked and hungry animals.

The Department of Agriculture and Food has appealed to South-West and Great Southern livestock producers to forward plan for feeding after the fires and rains and, where possible, relocate animals to a shed or an area with solid shelter and ensure adequate nutrition.

Milne Feeds sales manager Dean Maughan said the extensive damage to the pastures in the wake of the disasters was expected to compound demand.

He said the company had been extremely busy with extra orders but would do its best to supply all existing producers that have been affected and as many new clients as possible.

"In the case of the rains, even where the pastures weren't completely drowned, rainfall above 30mm would cause them to be nutritionally depleted," he said.

"The loss needs to be made up somehow and we will be supplying a pellet that can be used to boost the nutritional performance for cattle and sheep on sub-standard pasture."

Mr Maughan said the cost of feed pellets would likely rise if the company has to buy in more grain to make extra feed.

"Grain prices are subject to many influences and increase as the result of basis, world markets and the value of the Australian dollar," he said.

"But prices for livestock remains at reasonable levels and any modest adjustment in the price of feed should be offset."

Milne mill manager Konrad Clemmans said the company had gone into full production mode.

"Our staff have pulled together to produce every minute we can and some of our management have volunteered to go back on to the production floor to help ensure that we cover as much demand as is possible," he said.

"At the moment, we are able to cover the requirements of our existing customers with our production capacity, but we do not generally stockpile large quantities of pellets.

"Existing and potential new clients should assess their likely requirements and discuss them with us - we will do our best to help."

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails