Livestock producers chasing a wide range of feed supplements given to animals when grass and hay run low are being turned away as suppliers drown in demand.
Some can not schedule new dry lick production before mid January; waits on urea and phosphorus based supplements have run out to six weeks and all of this year's molasses production is now under contract.
Suppliers have hundreds of tonnes pre-booked ahead of them and animal nutritionists say some producers are going to have the choice of feeding through dry conditions taken from them.
The situation is not the same across the board, with some places, such as northern Queensland, reporting only needing the typical volumes of supplements and having no issues getting what they need.
For the areas where dry conditions are biting hard, however, it seems demand hit top gear harder and faster than expected, with reports of a number of producers being proactive and securing their supplies early.
Consultants have reported road train orders of five different supplements being made every two weeks to some big Queensland properties.
The story around ingredient supply is difficult to pin down. For example, urea imports have been at record levels but there have been distribution imbalances, leaving some regions with significant shortages.
The typical message going out to customers is company's expressing empathy but pointing to the rapid change in demand on the back of seasonal conditions and warning where orders are being accepted, delivery dates are subject to change without notice.
Queensland animal nutritionist Jim Wade said most of his clients had formulations sorted until the end of December.
Minor changes were being made where animals were consuming more than expected because dryer conditions had set in, he said.
"But if you've left it until now to get organised, it's really starting to bite and some will have no choice but to sell," he said.
"It's very early in a drought for this to be happening but that could be a good sign that people have got in early to secure supply."
Sugar mills report no molasses is being sold out of mills now and distributor's contracts for this season's production are likely all locked in.
In the 2018/19 drought, molasses was imported to meet demand in a very unusual move for Australia, with producers paying a massive $800 a tonne. At the moment, they are paying $250 to $300/t.
However, it seems no moves are underway yet to repeat that.
The Australian Sugar Milling Council's Jim Crane said it became clear early in this year's cane crush that molasses would be in short supply, as the climate outlook turned bad in many grazing areas.
"A very large proportion of molasses is contracted to the same people year-to-year," he said.
"The last time molasses was in short supply like this, a lot of work with Agforce was done to encourage producers to set up on-farm storage, as molasses keeps for a long time, and we believe that was quite successful and people do have supply ahead of them."
He said it takes three to four months for imported molasses to arrive and it was a risky proposition for the importer if not contracted and paid for.
Molasses tonnage sits at around 3pc of cane tonnage. Australia's cane production nationally is now forecast to be 30.931t, down 700,000t on start-of-season estimates, due to seasonal conditions taking a turn for the worse.
Some mills are on track to be finished as early as the end of this month but most will wrap up late November.
Mr Crane said during the last drought surveys were conducted that showed weekly demand for molasses from graziers was in the region of 7000 to 8000t.
Even if those volumes could be supplied, the supply of trucks and drivers to get it to farms is not there.
In NSW, molasses supply is down 20 per cent on last year, which itself was a massively reduced supply due to devastating floods.
The NSW Sugar Milling Co-operative's Chris Connors said no spot sales were being made now.
"There might be a few more tonnes we can dish out at the end of the season but it won't be much," he said.
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