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Dry winter affects east coast farmers

The dry winter on Tasmania's east coast is beginning to take its toll on superfine merino sheep farms.

Stock is being sold off much earlier than usual and hand feeding with grain has started on properties running low on grass and fodder crops.  

"For that three month winter period, we've had 22 mm of rain," Bruce Dunbabin said from his property at Mayfield, overlooking the Freycinet Peninsula. "So it's not an awful lot."

It is in stark contrast to last winter where around 300 millimetres of rain fell across the farm.

Further south towards Triabunna, William and Melissa Ferguson run around 20,000 merinos and 1,000 head of cattle across two properties.  They have had 33 millimetres of rain for winter.

"Our calves are not as heavy as they would normally be when I put them into our farm feedlot," Mr Ferguson said. "Instead of growing them on cheap grass in the spring time, they'll end up being grown and finished on grain. Some of our other young sheep will just go a bit early." 

(From ABC Rural - 4 September 2017)