Time for a drought strat­egy is now

South Waikato News - - RURAL DELIVERY -

Waikato farm­ers have been warned to act now as an­other drought seemed im­mi­nent in the re­gion.

With the drought of­fi­cially an­nounced in North­land and ex­pected to be de­clared in other ar­eas, the Waikato Far­mWise con­sul­tant Ken Bartlett said farm­ers needed to im­ple­ment a drought man­age­ment strat­egy now.

‘‘The im­me­di­ate goal for dairy farm­ers is to keep as many cows in milk as pos­si­ble,’’ he said. ‘‘ And re­duce the feed de­mand on the farm.’’

‘‘To do this farm­ers need in­for­ma­tion about their herd so they can cull lower pro­duc­ing cows and put oth­ers on once a day milk­ing.’’

He said gain­ing in­di­vid­ual cow in­for­ma­tion was crit­i­cal to de­ci­sion mak­ing and ef­fec­tive drought man­age­ment.

‘‘It’s very dry and we don’t know when it’s go­ing to rain, some weather pre­dic­tions are fore­cast­ing a wet sum­mer, oth­ers a long hot dry one, so farm­ers need a strat­egy to help them cope.

‘‘The in­for­ma­tion farm­ers gain from herd test­ing is nec­es­sary for mak­ing in­formed de­ci­sions.

‘‘Herd test­ing will iden­tify low pro­duc­ing cows, cows that are bet­ter suited for once a day milk­ing and iden­tify those with high so­matic cell counts.

‘‘From that in­for­ma­tion farm­ers can de­cide which cows to feed sup­ple­ments to and iden­tify which lower pro­duc­ing an­i­mals and those not needed for next sea­son to cull. Mr Bartlett pre­dicted a short­age of sup­ple­ment feed if the rain con­tin­ued to hold off and said this would re­sult in the cost of feed in­creas­ing.

‘‘ Sum­mer crops, like turnips, are in many ar­eas fail­ing to ger­mi­nate due to lack of rain, com­pound­ing the prob­lem of feed short­age on farm.

‘‘ Culling an­i­mals nat­u­rally re­duces feed de­mand on the farm. We can’t do any­thing about the weather but by herd test­ing farm­ers can en­sure they are feed­ing the bet­ter pro­duc­ing an­i­mals and culling the poorer pro­duc­ers from the herd, it means im­por­tant de­ci­sions are not based on guess­work.’’

ACT NOW: Far­mWise con­sul­tant Ken Bartlett is urg­ing farm­ers not to pro­cras­ti­nate ahead of a likely drought.

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