Farmers now in drought mode
South Auckland farmers are bracing for drought as a hot, dry weather continues over the country.
Federated Farmers Auckland president Wendy Clark says most South Auckland farmers are prepared for drought but rising costs are "starting to bite", particularly for supplementary feed.
The dry spell also means the price of meat is dropping at markets as sheep and beef farmers cull stock.
Ms Clark is looking at offloading her surplus cattle to another farmer who wants to build up his herd for next year.
Other actions farmers can take to reduce the effects of the drought include going on to once a day or 16-hourly milking or ceasing the milking of younger or skinnier stock, she says.
Milk prices for the 340 dairy farmers across the Auckland region are likely to remain steady despite the drought because they are largely determined by overseas events.
But although a couple of light showers are expected this week "I can't see any substantial rain on the horizon", Ms Clark says.
"Farmers in this area are always prepared for the summer but it's not fun like last summer."
Rain over 2011-12 produced up to three times as much grass as normal so stock could be put out to pasture at any time.
"It made everything so easy."
The heat was expected as the country moved from a La Nina to an El Nino weather pattern, which brings drying weather and sunnier days.
Ms Clark says her Patumahoe dairy farm has had just 17mm of rain this January. That's just up from the driest January the farm has experienced in 1988 when it had 12mm.
Auckland usually receives around 70mm of rain in January, Ms Clark says.