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Parched Taranaki farms need rain

Winter supplies already low

SUE O'DOWD
Last updated 05:00 14/02/2013
tdn farm stand
ROBERT CHARLES

BACK IN TIME: Taranaki's prolonged dry spell has seriously dented farmers' ability to make enough fodder for next winter, but it won't deter these blokes from demonstrating how oats were harvested bac

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Taranaki farmers are searching the skies for follow-up rain after last week's brief respite.

Most of the province received 40mm-60mm of rain early last week, but Hawera farm consultant Debbie McCallum said while it had a greening effect, farmers wanted more to boost pasture growth.

It might be a forlorn hope as there is little rain on the horizon.

"Silage on-farm is down on other years, but a lot of PKE [palm kernel expeller] is being fed.

"It's readily available and reasonably priced."

Maize silage would be available in six to eight weeks.

"Cows are being culled and we hope it'll be a short dry spell," she said.

Some farmers were on 16-hour milkings and many would move to once-a-day if there was no significant rain in the next three weeks.

Production was ahead of last season for most farmers, although this month it was falling behind last February's exceptional figures.

Farmers were stocking up on winter supplements because not much silage was made this season, particularly in coastal Taranaki, after slow growth last spring, Ms McCallum said.

South Taranaki contractor Paul Kalin said those seeking supplements should get in early before supplies ran out.

He predicted they would have to come from the South Island within three weeks unless rain fell in Taranaki. "And it will be dearer."

He was not aware of any southern supplement being brought to Taranaki yet.

"But I'm selling a fair bit of hay and straw locally.

"Most of it will be gone in a couple of weeks - unless we get rain."

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- Taranaki Daily News

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