CATTLE grazier Bill Newman has been working the land in Eildon for half a century but he says this drought-like summer has tricked him.
Mr Newman, 73, runs about 120 breeding cows and 30 replacement heifers on his 226ha farm at Snobs Creek near Lake Eildon.
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He said it had been a "really different year" with parched conditions following a wet winter. Lake Eildon hasn't recorded a drop of rain since December 20.
"Everything's so dry now, anything you've got in the paddock is as dry as chips," Mr Newman said.
"I hope we've got enough hay to get through to winter, but we need a break, we need rain desperately."
He said a shower this week would make him feel better, but "what we get now will only get burnt off again".
"We want it in March and April because then it might stay ... it'll be starting to get cold and we won't have enough feed."
After spending thousands of dollars buying extra hay during previous dry spells, Mr Newman said it would be too expensive to do so again.
"We'll just have to start dropping a few numbers. It's better to sell a few cattle than to buy feed in, because the price of hay will just get dearer."