Farmers get tips
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.