Tuesday, 15 August 2017 14:55

Wet makes tough job tougher

Written by  Peter Burke
Parts of Hauraki Plains flooded earlier this year. Parts of Hauraki Plains flooded earlier this year.

Floods in April and continuing rain are costing some Bay of Plenty farmers up to $700 per cow to repair damage and buy extra feed.

Their average herd being 370 cows, these farmers face an extra $260,000 in operating costs.

Bay of Plenty Federated Farmers president Darryl Jensen, a dairy farmer, cites the cost of extra supplementary feed, off-farm grazing, pasture renewal and repairs to farm infrastructure.

“The wet trying conditions are making life very difficult and I am still personally involved in flood recovery around the Whakatane Eastern Bay district. We are still dealing with issues from that and the farmers want to see some sunshine to help dry things out.

“A lot of supplement is being used because the ground is so wet and pasture growth rates are not where they need to be; farmers are mindful of the need to minimise pasture damage.”

Jensen says the higher payout is very welcome by farmers, especially those hit badly by the floods.

Despite the wet conditions calving is going pretty well but they are making a tough job tougher. He hears of vets having to do more assisted calvings than normal.

“I have spoken to a few farmers whose stock has come back from winter grazing not quite in the condition they wanted them to be in; they put this down to the hard conditions that have made life a bit more difficult for everyone.”

He says the farmers struggling the most are those in wet, low lying areas; those on the slightly elevated hill country are faring better.

In northern Waikato, pasture damage on some farms is as high as 80-90%, says Feds provincial president Andrew McGiven.

The ongoing rain is compounding the problem caused by the floods in April. It takes only 3mm of rain for the ground to be suddenly sodden again.

“I’ve never seen so many pugged paddocks. The guys with standoff facilities have been using them overtime -- I certainly have. We thought we were going to have a good autumn but it’s turned out a bit of a nightmare.”

McGiven says most dairy farmers, himself included, are using more supplement than normal and pasture utilisation has been poor. Some farmers have had to re-grass their pastures two-three times and other farms are so badly damaged they won’t support grazing for a year.

“Everyone is tired of the rain. We are all doing our best with what we have. We are well aware of the requirements under animal welfare rules and are trying to look after the stock which is where our money comes from and minimise the pugging.”

McGiven says most guys coping well have a plan in place to deal with their predicament; and they appreciate the help from the Rural Support Trust and Feds.

More like this

Taking the heat off cows and people

As the hot weather starts to kick in around the country, DairyNZ has put out a special plea to farmers to protect themselves from the heat and also to ensure that their cows are kept cool.


OPINION: After years of fighting over farming, freshwater and sustainability Federated Farmers and Fish & Game are trying to kiss and make up.

Slow learners?

Our old mate does wonder about the financial acumen of brain’s trust running Federated Farmers these days!

Nice speech, but...

OPINION: Publisher Stuff and lobby group Federated Farmers both like to preach about their respective high-minded virtues – Stuff, about “funding journalism”, Feds about “supporting our farming communities”.


Dry cow therapy minus antibiotics

Taranaki sharemilker Shaun Eichstaedt was the first New Zealander to replace traditional antibiotic dry cow therapy (DCT) with a high-strength…

Changes are afoot

There has been a mixed response by the agriculture sector to the recently released Climate Change Commission’s 2021 draft report. 

Machinery & Products

Bigfoot comes up trumps

Call them what you will, but UTVs, or side-by-sides, have certainly found a place in much of New Zealand’s rural…

Merlo goes greener

Obviously not wishing to get left behind by some of its competitors, Italian manufacturer Merlo is planning to add to…

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

Milking It

Oat milk sells

OPINION: Fake milk works for some. Fashionable Swedish alt-milk brand Oatly is seeking a US stock market listing that could…

Labour shortage

If you think labour shortage on New Zealand dairy farms is unique to our country, then think again.

» Connect with Dairy News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter