All well with Waitaki dairy farms

Waitaki's dairy farmers and their cows are wintering well.

North Otago Federated Farmers dairy section chairman Lyndon Strang told Central Rural Life that conditions before calving were ''pretty good''.

Heifers on many farms would begin to calve in mid to late July.

Although the mating period had been ''a bit of a problem for most people'', since then there had been good crop and grass growth, Mr Strang said.

''There's plenty of feed for winter.

''What little rainfall we've had has been hanging round. The cows are still on top of the paddocks and wintering quite well.''

North Otago tended to have a microclimate that insulated it from weather extremes that could affect surrounding districts, he said.

As farmers moved towards spring their main priority would be ''making sure cow condition is good''.

''Everyone I've been talking to is coping fairly well. And the payout is looking good.''

The dairy industry was ''calming down'' after seeing off ''bad press from an extreme position''. Most New Zealanders now realised that dairy farmers had gone to great lengths to protect waterways from livestock and improve their environmental stewardship, Mr Strang said.

''It's not an instantaneous fix. There was 150 years of agriculture to get us to where we are now. We're all going in the right direction.''

This was a good time to catch up on farm maintenance tasks, including checking irrigation systems, he said. Farmers were counting on the North Otago Irrigation Company expansion being able to deliver reliable water in the coming summer, after delays stymied what had been expected last summer.

Fortunately, a wet season meant farmers managed reasonably well without having to rely on irrigation.

-By Sally Brooker

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