Farm­ers get tips

Matamata Chronicle - - Front Page - By KASHKA TUN­STALL and NI­COLA STE­WART

Long-awaited rain early this week would have done lit­tle to ease the pres­sure on Mata­mata farm­ers as they look for ways to cope with more hot, dry weather.

More than 60 farm­ers, con­trac­tors, agri-bankers, vets, and agri-fi­nance ad­vis­ers at­tended a DairyNZ Big Dry meet­ing in Mata­mata on Fri­day.

Farm­ers were ad­vised to fo­cus on what they could con­trol – cow culling, bet­ter feed man­age­ment, dry­ing off early, re­sow­ing pas­ture and cow con­di­tion.

Most farm­ers at the meet­ing had al­ready dried off, or partly dried off, their herds.

Their main con­cern now was get­ting ac­cess to feed and ni­trate ap­pli­ca­tion to pas­ture fol­low­ing the pre­dicted week­end rain.

DairyNZ staff, pas­ture ex­perts and fi­nan­cial ad­vis­ers gave farm­ers a clearer pic­ture of what the next few weeks have in store and how to shift their fo­cus and pre­pare for the next pro­duc­tion sea­son.

But, while farm­ers came away feel­ing a lit­tle more pos­i­tive, the gen­eral con­sen­sus was that the meet­ing did not pro­duce any new in­for­ma­tion.

‘‘I have heard a lot of it be­fore but it’s just get­ting some fresh ideas,’’ Wal­ton dairy farmer Rob Jones said.

‘‘It’s really just to find the best op­tions go­ing for­ward and what to do next.’’

Jones milks 120 cows and said his sit­u­a­tion was sim­i­lar to most farm­ers across the re­gion – very dry pas­ture with only palm ker­nel and silage for feed. He ex­pe­ri­enced the 2008 drought, but said it was the first drought meet­ing he had at­tended.

It was Mata­mata farmer Cameron Houghton’s first drought meet­ing, too.

‘‘I came to see how bad ev­ery­one else is, so I know I’m not the only one.’’

Forty per cent of Houghton’s pas­ture land is ir­ri­gated. He has 450 cows on his farm on two sep­a­rate ro­ta­tions, one milk­ing once a day year-round and the other twice a day.

But, with 60 per cent of his land dry, Houghton said the meet­ing helped him re­think how he was farm­ing and what he needed to do to once the rain came.

Mean­while, the Pu­taruru Ti­rau Mata­mata Sheep­dog Trial Club had to can­cel lo­cal tri­als ear­lier this month due to a lack of graz­ing pas­ture.

Pa­tron Al­lan Smith said it was the first time in at least 40 years the club has had to can­cel tri­als. ‘‘ We are very dis­ap­pointed, we will have to wait for next year now.’’

Tri­als across Hawke’s Bay, King Coun­try and Whanganui were also can­celled, he said.

‘‘All the sheep are start­ing to show the ef­fects of the dry weather.’’

North Is­land and New Zealand Cham­pi­onships were still sched­uled to go ahead at Orakie-Ko­rako Rd, Taupo from May 27.

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