Under pressure from drought and COVID-19, Woodville dairy farmer Ben Allomes says: ‘we can’t shut our doors and just walk away’.
The DairyNZ head of lower North Island says farmers in Tararua and Rangitikei are the worst hit.
But Brazendale says Taranaki is dry but not too bad at this stage and south of Palmerston North in the Horowhenua there are not too many signs of a drought.
But in the worst-hit areas, Brazendale says pasture covers are much lower than normal for this time of the year, crops are finished and a lot of farmers are starting to run out of silage. He says normally they would turn to PKE as an alternative, but they are under pressure to restrict their use of this.
“A lot of farmers are already on once a day milking or have started to dry cows off. From what I have heard, the maize crop has not been good and it appears that farmers have been harvesting it early to get what they can from the crop,” he says.
There is the potential for a feed pinch in many districts, but Brazendale emphasises that it is still only early March and if the rain comes soon and soil temperatures remain warm, then the season could quickly pick up.
“So we could still get good growth through April/May and could go into winter in a good position.” he says.
In terms of morale Brazendale says farmers seen to be coping with the drought and also the corona\virus situation. But he says what continues to concern them is the threats of climate change policy, zero carbon and other environmental policies which are in the pipeline.