PETERBOROUGH grazier Craig Philp began hand-feeding sheep in November 2017 and heavily destocked his property to help his family "withstand" the drought.
Three years ago, Mr Philp ran more than 5000 Merino breeders and 20 Murray Grey cross Hereford cattle across 10,000 hectares but after receiving just 280 millimetres of rain in the past two years, he destocked to less than half of his livestock numbers.
"We are down to six cows and we sold about 2500 ewes in the past seasons, and 400 ewes were also sold a month ago," he said.
"We cannot go through another summer with too many breeders, last summer was a big hit for us because we lost a lot of sheep during it."
Mr Philp said after a "disaster lambing" this year with lambing percentages of less than 8 per cent, he had bought four B-double loads of hay in preparation for next year.
"The ewes left the lambs and the rams did not join properly because of poor ewe condition," he said.
"But we have to try keep the numbers we have left so we bought enough hay to last us until May."
RELATED READING: $3000 drought payment still not available
Mr Philp counted himself lucky that hay prices had dropped in the past 12 months, after he paid more than $20,000 a truckload last year while waiting for feed support that was being offered across the country.
Mr Philp said he reached out to a rural charity for feed supplies 12 months ago but received hay just two weeks ago.
"We are really lucky to have received the hay but if it arrived last year it would have got me through until June this year when we had a bit of rain."
Mr Philp said the Salvation Army had offered financial support and organised in-store credit for pastoralists, with this "the best support so far".
"It was really straightforward because there was no mucking around - it was simple," he said.
"There are support services that no one is applying for because of the hassles and wait period for help."
RELATED READING: Drought: More farmers able to access farm household support
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