The estimated combined output of NSW livestock and livestock products was $6,438 million, up 5% year-on-year.
Beef remained the largest contributor to output by value, with an increase in production being the driving factor. Wool performed well, with a 21.8% year-on-year increase in price more than offsetting a small fall in production. The high price of feed grains, growing concerns over the availability of hay, and dwindling livestock water supplies put pressure on both extensive and intensive livestock systems.
Pasture growth across much of inland NSW during winter 2017 was affected by dry, frosty conditions, with extremely low growth across most of the southern half of inland NSW and the north west. Stock condition remained good, although supplementation was necessary in areas where forage crops were not available.
Some parts of the state reached drought status by early summer. Variable rainfall and poor pasture growth resulted in widespread supplementary feeding of stock where ground cover levels were low. Daytime temperatures were nearly 2°C higher than average across the state. Onground indicators highlight the very poor condition of the pasture base in these areas.
The widespread nature and intensity of the agronomic drought experienced in the final quarter of 2017–18 put livestock feed supplies under considerable strain, and in some areas total grazing pressure is providing additional stress. For livestock farming, a defining feature of the current drought event is the impact on pasture production, with the widespread failure of the 2018 autumn growing season creating significant feed-gaps.