MORE than 200 horses from drought-afflicted communities interstate have been saved.
An equine auction in Echuca on Friday attracted about double the usual number of buyers.
Auctioneer Andrew Wilson believed the increased interest and the 100 per cent clearance rate were in part because people wanted to save the horses from being euthanised.
That was the fate the horses would likely have faced, had they not found homes in a better position to feed and water them.
About 600 buyers attended the auction. Mr Wilson said there were lots of new faces among them, with people eager to do their bit.
"It was a great result," he said.
But, with another couple of hundred horses from drought-affected communities set to be auctioned in a fortnight, the relief is likely to be short-lived.
There were 25 thoroughbred horses among the 200 auctioned in Echuca on Friday.
One of the horses sold for $6500, and there were others that sold for a few thousands.
Mr Wilson said some quality horses were auctioned off.
He believed many of the buyers were interested in owning horses for recreational purposes.
More than 1100 farmers registered for support from Rural Aid last month - the highest monthly total on record.
The monthly average is usually closer to 400, charity co-founder Charles Alder said.
New farmer registrations have exceeded 1000 for the past two months.
"We believe these numbers are not only an indication of the worsening drought but the impact that the recent bushfires have had on many properties," Mr Alder said.
"There are now a large number of properties impacted by both drought and fire."
He said farmers had been forced to reduce their stock numbers and then hand feed their remaining stock - which, for many, was their breeding stock.
"Some farmers have de-stocked completely so have no income coming in," Mr Alder said.
He said Rural Aid was also getting more calls from farmers whose dams were drying up and who didn't know how they would provide water for their livestock.
November was Australia's driest on record.
The warm and dry weather is expected to continue, according to the Bureau of Meteorology's summer outlook.
Head of long-range forecasts, Dr Andrew Watkins said the outlook brought with it a risk of increased heatwaves.
"So it's important the community stays up to date with the latest information and advice from authorities," he said.
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