RECENT thunderstorms have put a smile on the face of some Central West farmers, but have failed to lift the overall mood in the absence of a widespread soaking.
Wool farmers say their production is down 15 to 20 per cent because of the severe drought in the region and it will have an impact on their profitability for the next three to five years.
Farmers, however, were relieved that the wool quality had not deteriorated.
“There is a little bit more dust penetration in wool, but that is because it’s dry everywhere,” Orange-based farmer Floyd Legge said.
Mr Legge said production is down because sheep are not getting the same protein as they normally would.
“There is no substitute for natural grown feed. We are feeding lots of expensive grain and hay, but it is just not the same protein balance,” he said.
There is no substitute for natural grown feed. We are feeding lots of expensive grain and hay, but it is just not the same protein balance.Floyd Legge
Mr Legge said Orange had a few storms, but they were not enough to make any significant dent in overall drought conditions.
Orange and Dubbo did, however, get their average monthly rainfall in January.
Bathurst, Lithgow, Oberon, Canowindra, Cowra, Young, Grenfell and Narromine, by comparison, received more than their average monthly rainfall in the same month.
Peter Moore, who farms at Tarana, between Bathurst and Lithgow, says he has benefited from the recent thunderstorms in the area.
"This area is in a pretty good spot at the moment. Bathurst and Lithgow are good isolated spots, but it can't be said for other areas in the Central West," Mr Moore said.
"The storms resulted in lots of grasses, which is good for the summer and autumn period."
Wool farmers are not running at a loss thanks to the price of wool, which has gone up in the past year, and due to high margins.
But they are making less profit than before because they have to buy expensive feed.
About 99.5 per cent of the state is still in drought, which experts say has been one of the worst in 100 years.
Mr Legge said the current wool prices have helped people hold on to their sheep for longer and buy expensive feed for them.
"Business is still profitable. We will go back to the same level of production when it rains," he said.
Australian Wool Growers Association director Martin Oppenheimer said farmers are experiencing higher temperatures and more dry conditions than what they are used to facing.
"The yield has dropped somewhere between 12 per cent and 20 per cent," Mr Oppenheimer said.
"It means all farmers are having to reassess their production for the next six to eight months.
"Returns are higher for wool, but farmers' profits are affected because of the reduced stock and high land maintenance costs. This will have a severe impact over the next three to five years on the profitability of these farms."
Returns are higher for wool, but farmers' profits are affected because of the reduced stock and high land maintenance costs. This will have a severe impact over the next three to five years on the profitability of these farms.Martin Oppenheimer
Mr Moore said he sold his stock last year because he was concerned about being overstocked in the drought.
"My numbers are down by 25 per cent, which means I will cut 25 per cent less wool," he said.
Mr Moore said he will breed stock when the region is out of drought.