Greg and Anne Stones are hand feeding poddy lambs due to drought

For Gunnedah’s Stones Family the feeding of stock is almost a full time job during the drought.

With several hundred head of cattle and sheep, Anne and Greg Stones are doing everything they can to keep their stock fed.

The prolonged conditions have meant the couple have had to take in and hand feed 22 poddy lambs every day for the last several months.

“We would usually maybe only have to feed four or five poddy lambs a season,” Mrs Stones said.

“This year we are having to feed 22 and this purely down to the drought and the impact it’s having on our ewes and really all of our stock.”

Mrs Stones said the lambs were being fed on hay and other feed supplements.

“So far this year we have had two lots of lambs born and the second lot doesn’t even know what grass is,” she said.

“The first lot were born in early autumn so they at least have some idea, but we have been feeding all of our stock hay we bought from southern Victoria and our poddy lambs are getting pellets as well.”

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Mr Stones told Fairfax Media the region’s drought conditions were the worst he had ever seen.

“As far as I am aware, this is the first time we have not been able to plant a winter crop here,” Mr Stones said.

“Even in earlier droughts we have managed to plant something and perhaps grow a below average crop.

“However, this year we have not been able to grow anything at all and as far as I know, that would be the first time in nearly 100 years of my family being on the property.”

The second generation Broadwater property farmer said the family had also taken to droving to help feed their cattle.

“We are doing our best to hang onto our breeding stock,” Mr Stones said.

“At the moment we are running greatly reduced numbers to what we would usually have and that simply comes down to feed.

“Our droving permit allows us to graze our stock on some nearby pasture and that is helping us hang in there pretty well at the moment, but that isn’t going to be a permanent option.

“We will keep going and doing our best to hang onto our best breeders because in the future the drought will mean that it will take some time for breeders to hit the markets.”

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