Send away stock, farmers advised

Minister for Agriculture Damien O’Connor (second from left) talks with DairyNZ Southland/South Otago regional manager Richard Kyte (back to camera) and Balfour dairy farmers Lyall and Jan Hopcroft last week about the drought at the Hopcrofts’ farm. PHOTO:
Minister for Agriculture Damien O’Connor (second from left) talks with DairyNZ Southland/South Otago regional manager Richard Kyte (back to camera) and Balfour dairy farmers Lyall and Jan Hopcroft last week about the drought at the Hopcrofts’ farm. PHOTO: NICOLE SHARP
Farmers in the South continue to deal with the repercussions of the dry weather, as store lambs are sold and others sent to the works early. In the dairy sector, some farmers are switching to once-a-day milking or 16-hour milking, and drying off early has been considered. Nicole Sharp looks into the situation.

‘‘Look after your top paddock.’’

These were the main words of advice offered by Doug Avery to farmers at a drought meeting in West Otago last week.

Mr Avery was in the South offering some words of advice to southern farmers struggling with the dry conditions.

‘‘I’ve never ever farmed in Southland [but] you’re battling Mother Nature and if you don’t get on side with her you will come last.’’

He encouraged farmers to do what they needed to do now, and look forward to next year.

‘‘Get the stock you’re going to sell out of the way and try to look at next year.’’

One of the things Mr Avery continued to see was people battling on, he said.

‘‘The ewe lambs get smaller, calves get smaller.’’

These animals would be on farm for the rest of their lives, producing at a lower level, he said.

He encouraged farmers to send away stock they could, look after their capital, make a plan and look to the future.

‘‘Look after your top paddock.’’

Farmers needed to look after each other, check on their neighbours, and be ready for when the rain did come, he said.

The same day Mr Avery talked to southern farmers, Minister for Agriculture Damien O’Connor was also in the South, visiting drought-affected farmers.

Southland was normally an easy farming province, but without the rain it was clear things were getting pretty tough, Mr O’Connor said.

Drought was declared in Southland and Otago on January 30, and not long after, it rained. Some parts of the province received more than 50mm.

‘‘I’ve got a bit of a record of going somewhere and the rain follows,’’ he said.

It was clear travelling around the region that Southland was dealing with the repercussions of the dry, and there were ongoing challenges with stock and feed.

Niwa’s latest hotspot watch for February 2 revealed the only hotspot in the South Island continued to be in Southland, which was classified ‘‘severe drought’’.

Federated Farmers had a feed line available, 0800 327 646, where farmers could sell and buy feed.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand, DairyNZ, and the Ministry for Primary Industries all had resources available for farmers to help them get through.

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