A West Coast farming expert says he is seeing first hand the
pressures being put on farmers battling to combat the effects
of the big dry.
CRT technical feed specialist for the West Coast, Tasman and
Marlborough, Andrew Mitchell said he'd seen a significant
increase in demand for feed from farmers.
"The market changes from season to season, but we are
definitely seeing a fairly significant rise in what we are
"In terms of what I'm doing I am very busy, so it's a pretty
good indication of what's happening.
"The difficulty has been securing good quality feed because
there's a lot of it that's been going to the North Island."
Mr Mitchell said at the moment there was no supply of pine
kernels, as current stocks had been exhausted.
He had also seen an increased demand for high-quality hay
baleage and high-protein feeds, to help ensure dairy herds
kept producing milk.
"I have farmed on the West Coast for the best part of 25
years and been in the industry all my life, and I'd say this
is the biggest event in terms of a summer dry I've seen."
Mr Mitchell said another area of concern was the danger
current conditions posed to the health of farming families.
"Definitely a significant impact on farmer mental health, and
that's something we all need to be aware of, the stresses
which are being put on the family as a unit.
"Because most farms are run as a family unit, the impact we
are seeing in terms of cash flow is significant."
He said the severity of the dry weather also varied across
"There are areas on the Coast which are significantly worse
than others. Murchison certainly has seen quite a bit of
"But perhaps Tapawera didn't, and the Grey Valley and
Rotomanu, Inchbody, those areas are still under severe
pressure from moisture."
Mr Mitchell was working hard to impress upon farmers the
importance of working out how many animals they could afford
to feed, and which needed to be dried off.
"That's one thing I have been trying to get farms to do, is
to sit down and see what it's costing them to feed their cows
every day, and assess what the milk yield is.
"Each farmer has to individually do that assessment to see
whether it's viable for them going forward to continue
Mr Mitchell said decisions on stock levels needed to be taken
now to ensure farmers had enough feed put by to cater for
their animals in the spring.
"What we are doing is trying to ensure people aren't digging
themselves a bigger hole ... this is a significant event and
it needs to be treated as such."
- by Ben Aulakh of The Westport News