Green drought and a white winter: North Canterbury prepares

- Feed covers in North Canterbury are generally 50-60% of normal levels - Experienced farmers tell newcomers to prepare for snow on top of drought.

Published on Friday, June 12, 2020

Farmers in dry parts of North Canterbury are likely to get a phone call to check in on how they are doing as the region moves from drought to winter, says Claire Ford, coordinator for the North Canterbury Rural Support Trust, who are driving a phone tree campaign.

“Our calls just remind people of the support that is available, and give us a chance to get a feel for farmer wellbeing after a long lockdown period in drought,” says Claire.

“Generally farmers seem to be doing well and their main concern is how they will cope for feed if they get a hard winter or a big dump of snow.”

Winton Dalley, Chair of the Hurunui Adverse Events Committee, says that while some useful dollops of rain landed over the last two months, it wasn’t sufficient and timely enough for a full recovery before heading in to winter.

“The district has moved to a green drought, with feed covers at 50-60% of normal levels on many farms.  Farmers acted early and prepared by buying in feed, destocking and finding grazing – one of the few benefits of past drought experiences.”

Dan Maxwell, Meat & Wool Chair of North Canterbury Federated Farmers, says while most people will have a plan in place for some snow, it pays to think about how farmers will cope with an extreme event. 

“Give some thought to where you can position your stock so they have sufficient shelter and they're accessible to feed supplements if possible and have sufficient animal health supplies on hand to deal with any sleepy sickness that may arise,” advises Dan.

 “Have a look at the Snow Guidelines put out by Beef+Lamb New Zealand which has useful management and feeding tips to help develop a plan. You can find it on their website or give your local rep a call. MPI also has advice on their website on looking after livestock affected by a snowstorm”.

Winton Dalley says not to underestimate the value of local experience.

“If you are new to the district get some advice now from neighbours who’ve been in this situation in the past. An extreme snow event is a time when we see neighbours really pull together. There is still feed out there so get it now for winter.

“Have a look on the AgriHQ Feed Noticeboard, or use the free Feed Planning and Feed Coordination Services which are running this month for farmers all over the country.”


Key links: drought 0800 787 254 (0800 RURAL HELP)

Free feed planning support

Call the free winter feed planning service to talk through your options:

•             0800 BEEFLAMB (0800 23 33 52)

•             0800 4 DairyNZ (0800 43 24 79 69)

Feed coordination service

Feed coordinators have been appointed to help connect up farmers with available feed sources. Unfortunately as there are shortages nationwide, they may not be able to find the feed you need. They are coordinating offers and requests in each region, working with the primary sector groups and trusts.

To use this service, you need to have a feed budget for the next few months so that they can help you get through.

For further information contact:

Winton Dalley, Chair Hurunui Adverse Events Committee   029 770 2866.

North Canterbury Rural Support Trust, Chair, Gayle Litchfield 027 417 1812

Dan Maxwell, Meat & Wool Chairperson, North Canterbury Federated Farmers 027 906 6077




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Author: Terri Anderson

Categories: National, North Canterbury




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