Feed management needed after spring

North Canterbury farmers say they are experiencing ''an average season'', despite a challenging spring.

Federated Farmers North Canterbury president Lynda Murchison, of Waipara, said the season was progressing well for dryland farmers, considering the mixed weather and the windstorms in late September.

''We had a kind winter and a kind spring, so I haven't heard of any horror stories. The only thing I've heard is that the grass growth is bit slower because of the mixed weather. But that's farming. We survive and we carry on.''

The windstorms had not had a major impact on dryland farmers, apart from uprooting trees, but the slower grass growth was making it more challenging for farmers to get lambs off to the works before Christmas, Mrs Murchison said.

''As far as I've heard, there are plenty of lambs out there, but the works are screaming out for lambs, but some are taking a wee bit longer. We can't quite meet demand at the moment.''

Sharemilkers' spokesman James Bourke, of Culverden, said a mild spring meant his production was ahead of last year and there had been just enough rain so far for farmers to get by without their storm-damaged irrigators, providing they had plenty of supplements.

''As long as you've got irrigation, it's a pretty good season. For the others, palm kernel is flying out of the bunkers and silage is pretty scarce.

''Cow condition was pretty good coming out of winter and into the early spring and everything looks pretty good - and with the $8-plus payout forecast it should be a good season.''

Artificial insemination had gone well, submission rates having been good, ''so hopefully we will get some good pregnancies'', Mr Bourke said.

However, he warned there could be a shortage of supplements come autumn, but it was ''just a case of doing your maths and keeping an eye on the budget''.

Kirwee cropping farmer Murray Rowlands said dairy farmers should keep in contact with their local cropping farmers to ensure their feed requirements were met. ''Silage is in demand. The dairy boys are looking very hard for feed.

''Dairy farmers and cropping farmers need to talk to each other. I suggest to the dairy guys, drive up the driveway and have a chat. We are always happy to discuss it. ''A lot of the dairy farmers are seeing the advantage of the grain, especially with the $8.30 payout being forecast.''

Overall, the crop was looking good, Mr Rowlands said. Those with irrigation would be fine, but those without might struggle if the summer was too dry, he said.

By David Hill.