Wednesday, 20 May 2020 07:55

Hawke’s Bay’s ‘worst ever’ drought?

Written by  Peter Burke
The parched land on Hawkes Bay Fed Farmers president Jim Galloway’s farm shows just how dry it is in the region. The parched land on Hawkes Bay Fed Farmers president Jim Galloway’s farm shows just how dry it is in the region.

Farmers in Hawkes Bay are facing a desperate situation with no relief in sight from the disastrous drought gripping the region.

In-lamb ewes and in-calf cows are being slaughtered simply because there is no feed on farms for them. Peter Burke reports.

Federated Farmers Hawkes Bay chair Jim Galloway says farmers he’s spoken with – who’ve lived in the area for a long time – say it’s the worst drought they have experienced and possibly the worst in living memory. 

“It just keeps going on and on,” he told Rural News.

Galloway says the small dairy industry in the region has taken a big hit, especially those who are autumn calving.

He says many sheep and beef farmers have already drafted out the bottom third of their hoggets and, instead of putting them in the main flock, have either sent them to sales or the freezing works. Vets have told him that, as a result of this and the lack of feed, scanning numbers are down.

“Let’s face it, we are not far from June and pasture growth in some of the higher country will slow markedly – even if they get rain. They will be struggling to grow their way out of the drought,” he told Rural News.

Galloway says one of the worst hit areas is just under the ranges around Kereru and Crownthorp, but it is also bad around Tikokino and Takapau.

He says a lot of farmers are trying to work out the next class of stock they can sell, if they even will sell and what effect this may have on the viability of their business long term. 

“The reality is that the quicker they make decisions the better because if they get rid of stock they will have less worry and it will be better for them in the long term,” he says.

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