Time for a drought strategy is now
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.