Dairy farmer Mark Hinton was just about dancing in the rain after 40mm fell on his farm near Hawera on Monday and Tuesday.
"We absolutely needed it," he said. "It was probably a week too late."
Hinton, who milks 210 cows on his 70ha (effective) farm with wife Tracy, said conditions had been tough for the previous fortnight, even though their production was still ahead of last year's record.
"We need rain every 10 days to keep things ticking over."
Tracy Hinton described the rain as a godsend. "Bring it on - we could do with much more. But it has brought the water table up."
Jersey breeder Tony Landers said getting 40mm of rain on his Kaupokonui dairy farm was brilliant. "We needed it. It was as bad as it's ever been. Without that rain, it would have been a short season. Now we need follow-up rain."
The Taranaki Regional Council monitoring station near his farm was recording soil moisture at 10 per cent before the rain and 24 per cent afterwards.
DairyNZ Taranaki regional leader Katrina Knowles advised farmers to resist the temptation to speed up their grazing rotation after the rain.
Rather, they should maintain it at 25-30 days because one period of rain did not end a drought.
Farmers in extremely dry areas, particularly the coastal strip between Manaia and Okato, would need a second period of rain to boost pasture growth.
She said in other areas the rain would maintain growth, but farmers should continue to feed supplement for the next three weeks because the base of pastures was decaying.
Any farmers on 16-hour or once-a-day milking should continue that pattern until pasture was growing well.
Farmers could reduce demand on pasture by culling low producing cows, with decisions based on herd testing and pregnancy testing.
Urea could be applied on farms which received good rainfall and where ryegrass was growing.
She reminded farmers to check young stock that were grazing elsewhere. They should be fed no more than a kilogram of palm kernel expeller because their rumens were not as developed as yearlings. Calves at home should be fed 2kg of meal a day and trough space should be large enough to give them all a fair chance. They also needed 3kg of grass or silage/ baleage.
Knowles said farmers should also be taking precautions against facial eczema.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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