Farmers celebrate summer rain

JILL GALLOWAY
Last updated 12:56 12/02/2014

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Agribusiness

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Widespread rain has been welcomed by farmers in the Manawatu region but added grass growth has not yet kicked in.

Summer wind had stripped moisture out of the soil, so farmers said it was good to get a few days' rain to put some much-needed water back in pasture and crops.

Feilding-based farm adviser Gary Massicks, from Stantiall and Keeling, said stock were in good condition, with ewes and beef cattle holding condition during the past dry period.

The wind had dried things out and widespread rain of 25 to 40 millimetres was "fantastic" at this time of the year, he said.

"Any rain in summer is great. It has been brilliant and we're just seeing some new grass shoots on paddocks that had been cut for hay."

Maize was looking really good, with heat in December and January helping crops, he said.

"It's 10 feet tall and cobs are high up and filled out. It looks fantastic."

However, he said dairy cows were lighter than they were a month ago as they had lost some condition as they were milked into February.

But DairyTeam adviser Ian McNab said cows would be dried off in better condition than they were last autumn, when the drought was at its peak.

Dairy farmers usually stopped milking cows in late April or early May. Those farms that had crops this year had cows on them to boost summer milk production.

Mr McNab said some dairy farmers had planted plantain or chicory crops for dairy cows - a change from turnips, which used to be the crop of choice.

Dairy farmers were also now making better grass silage for cows.

It took the same amount of money to make good silage as bad, but good silage provided more energy to cows, Mr McNab said.

"People say rubbish in, rubbish out when it comes to supplementary feed."

Totally Vets veterinary practice in Feilding said the weather over the past few months had been kind and as a result stock finishing (fattening for meat plants), production and reproduction should all go well.

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- Manawatu Standard

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