Farm­ers revel in rain as feed grows

South Waikato News - - RURAL DELIVERY -

South Waikato farm­ers were sing­ing in the rain this week­end as a storm lashed the up­per North Is­land.

Rain fell per­sis­tently for sev­eral days, just in time for dairy farm­ers in their third drought in four years.

Con­di­tions in mid-De­cem­ber were likened to those nor­mally seen in Novem­ber fol­low­ing a spate of fine weather.

Rain be­fore Christ­mas sus­tained most farm­ers through early Jan­uary but con­di­tions had started dry­ing up again last week said Ru­ral Sup­port Trust chair­man Neil Ba­teup.

‘‘There’s still feed from the rain we had be­fore Christ­mas,’’ he said last week ‘‘But it is run­ning out quite fast. We were in a sit­u­a­tion where rain this week was be­com­ing al­most vi­tal again.

‘‘Pro­duc­tion lifted sig­nif­i­cantly af­ter the rain be­fore Christ­mas but na­tional lev­els were start­ing to drop off again.’’

Mr Ba­teup said be­fore the week­end’s storm farm­ers could have a re­ally good sea­son if it kept rain­ing or a re­ally bad one if it didn’t.

‘‘A cou­ple of rains by the end of Fe­bru­ary and nor­mal rain­fall af­ter that could pay off.’’

Mr Ba­teup said the Ru­ral Sup­port Trust’s phone­line, which gave help and ad­vice to farm­ers, had a few calls when the drought was de­clared but none since Christ­mas.

‘‘I am sure that most farm­ers have come up with a plan, over the last three or four years and put some mea­sures in place.

‘‘Those peo­ple who con­tracted palm ker­nel still have ac­cess, si­lage is short, maize crops are vari­able.’’

Ti­rau farm man­ager An­drew Mell­sopp is keep­ing his 240-cow herd fed from the pad­dock, while neigh­bour­ing farms are strug­gling.

‘‘I have heaps of grass com­pared with a lot of the neigh­bours,’’ Mr Mell­sopp said.

‘‘I am on 2.3 cows per hectare, and a lot are on 3.5 cows per hectare or 5.’’

His farm re­mains on tar­get to pro­duce 85,000kg of milk solids.

Mr Mell­sopp said the hilly con­tour of the farm was also to thank for the grass growth.

‘‘It’s not a flat farm and we are up quite high.’’

Mike Bor­rie,

nutrition op­er­a­tions man­ager for RD1, based in Hamil­ton, warned farm­ers against buy­ing feed on the spot mar­ket as re­tail­ers could only guar­an­tee sup­plies for those who had pre-pur­chased feed through for­ward con­tracts.

‘‘It’s look­ing like it’s get­ting dry again but there is a fore­cast for some rain Tues­day and Wed­nes­day,’’ he said.

De­spite that the sup­plier had plenty in stock and a shipload of palm ker­nel ex­tract had ar­rived at Tau­ranga at the week­end but things could change rapidly.

Tony Mof­fat, busi­ness devel­op­ment man­ager at Mor­rinsville stock feed com­pany Seales, said many im­porters had tight sup­ply since mid-De­cem­ber, al­though his com­pany had good sup­plies.

‘‘The lift in pay­out, cou­pled with Christ­mas rain has en­cour­aged farm­ers to feed more in an at­tempt to max­imise rev­enue and make the most of what is prov­ing to be a chal­leng­ing sea­son,’’ he said.

‘‘For­ward raw ma­te­rial sup­ply is good al­though the price will re­main firm due to the sit­u­a­tion in Aus­tralia and Europe.’’

Be­tween 100-300mm of rain fell over the week­end across the North Is­land with mi­nor flood­ing re­ported in sev­eral cen­tres. said Trop­i­cal Cy­clone Wilma would reach New Zealand this week­end bring­ing wind and rain to north­ern and north east­ern New Zealand. The sys­tem was ex­pected to bring rain to the South Waikato, en­sur­ing farm­ers had a wet week­end.

RAIN RADAR: A Metser­vice im­age shows rain blan­ket­ing the North Is­land at 9am on Sun­day morn­ing.

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