It's like a desert: farming family urgently searching for agistment

The Middleton family, near Tenterfield, need agistment for their 120 cows

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THE BIG DRY: Some of the Middleton family's cattle 60 kilometres west of Tenterfield. Picture: Brooke Middleton

THE BIG DRY: Some of the Middleton family's cattle 60 kilometres west of Tenterfield. Picture: Brooke Middleton

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"Nobody has ever seen it this bad."

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It's hard to imagine that this paddock should be brimming with green grass. It looks like a desert and the greenest thing on the horizon are the leaves on the trees.

This is the bleak reality for the Middleton family who have been farming 60 kilometres west of Tenterfield in the small town of Mingoola for 40 years.

They've already spent $250,000 trying to keep their 120 Santa cross Angus cattle alive and are now urgently looking for agistment so they aren't forced to sell the lot.

The family is looking for agistment in the Lower Hunter or north of the Hunter. A handful of drought-stricken farmers have found a refuge for their animals in the Maitland area over the past year, and one landholder even offered a paddock free of charge.

THE BIG DRY: Some of the Middleton family's cattle 60 kilometres west of Tenterfield. Picture: Brooke Middleton

THE BIG DRY: Some of the Middleton family's cattle 60 kilometres west of Tenterfield. Picture: Brooke Middleton

The Middletons are happy to split the herd into three lots if that makes it easier for a landholder to accommodate a smaller number.

They would like a paddock that will supply enough grass to sustain the herd, so they don't have the extra expense of buying hay.

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"The freight of feed, when we find it, is literally worth more than the bale of hay itself," Ms Middleton said.

"We've hit the cap on the freight subsidy already so we can't get any more money back from that. It's hard to find hay with any kind of quality and we can't afford to keep feeding them."

Ms Middleton has lived on the property her whole life and helps her two aunts Heather and Carol Middleton run the place.

THE BIG DRY: Some of the Middleton family's cattle 60 kilometres west of Tenterfield. Picture: Brooke Middleton

THE BIG DRY: Some of the Middleton family's cattle 60 kilometres west of Tenterfield. Picture: Brooke Middleton

"To me this is a way of life," she said.

"I love the animal side of things, it's so challenging and in a normal time it's fun and I like a good challenge. This is a bit overboard though, this whole drought thing."

"Nobody has ever seen it this bad, even some of the blokes in the area who are in their late 80s have never seen it like this before."

This article first appeared in the Maitland Mercury.

The story It's like a desert: farming family urgently searching for agistment first appeared on The Maitland Mercury.

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