Home' NZ Dairy Farmer : May 2013 Contents 24 The Dairyman MAY 2013
Feed shortages loom in south
SOUTHLAND farmers may have
dodged the worst effects of drought
experienced further north, but many
are now bracing themselves for looming
feed shortages this winter.
While widespread rain brought relief to
many dry parts of the country last week,
the Southland Plains recorded little more
than a few millimetres of rain in the six
days to April 23.
The Southland Rural Support Trust
called a meeting of 25 stakeholders in
the agricultural industry, including farm
consultants, advisers, rural businesses and
social networks, in Gore on April 19.
Trust chairman Lindsay Wright said
generally southern farmers had survived
the worst of the dry spell, but the real
concern now was lower grass and crop
yields as winter approaches.
‘‘Reports from across the province
indicated that grass covers are down
300-500kgDM/ha, and many winter crops
have reduced yields, some as much as 50
per cent,’’ Mr Wright said.
He said rainfall had been variable
throughout the province. Farmers on the
south coast had had a reasonable season
while northern and western Southland
and South Otago were very dry with little
Mr Wright said generally southern
farmers had had a very good summer and
made a lot of extra feed.
‘‘Certainly it has been the salvation
for some until now, but we don’t know if
there is sufficient feed left.
‘‘A lot of that surplus has been used to
keep stock condition up through the dry
spell. Some dairy farmers have exhausted
that surplus and are now starting to dip
into their reserves for winter to keep
Dairy NZ has advised the trust of an
even three-way split between southern
dairy farmers milking once a day, twice
a day or every 16 hours. Some dairy
herds in South Otago have been dried off
‘‘The issue now is to see if any feed
shortage can be met from within the
province itself or whether farmers will
need to look further afield for feed,’’ Mr
The trust is now waiting to hear back
from a working group of rural businesses
and farm advisers formed to establish a
more detailed picture of the overall feed
situation in Southland.
The trust plans to publish sample
feed budgets to give southern farmers a
comparison for their particular situation.
In the meantime farmers were encour-
aged to calculate their current feed budget
and if it was negative, plan how they
would address it.
Mr Wright said one of the key messag-
es to come out of the trust’s meeting
in Gore was that the impact of the dry
summer would be different on every farm,
depending on the amount of rainfall each
region and each property had received.
He said good communication between
farmers, graziers, advisers, banks and
accountants was vital to ensure no
surprises for any sector. Farmers with
financial or tax concerns should contact
their banks or accountants as soon as
possible, he added.
Southern Rural Support Trust
stakeholders will meet again on May 6.
Dairy NZ’s regional leader for
Southland and South Otago, Richard
Kyte said if cows were being wintered
off-farm, farmers should contact their
grazers to make sure they had sufficient
feed to carry them through winter.
Southland Federated Farmers’ presi-
dent Russell Macpherson said there had
been ‘‘no good rain since January’’ and
what little rain the province had had in
the past 10 days had been patchy.
He said he was confident there would
be enough feed available, but it may
come at a price and demand could cause
some speculation. Straw was still avail-
able from Southland and Canterbury for
dairy farmers to supplement feed for their
cows, he said.
Mr Macpherson said he was more
concerned for sheep and beef farmers
who had had a tough season with lower
returns for their lamb and would want to
cut costs to suit their income.
He urged the region’s farmers to stay
positive. ‘‘If we get rain in the next week
or so, the grass will pick up quite quickly,’’
he said. ‘‘Southland’s a great province.
It gets you down, but it never lets you
picture: Dean Kozanic
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29/04/2013 10:58:58 a.m.
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