Big dry starting to hit Taranaki, too

Taranaki is still a little way away from being declared a drought zone, but farmers are feeling the pinch.

Drought has been declared in Northland and Waikato farmers are sure they're in the grip of one.

DairyNZ Taranaki regional leader Katrina Knowles said Taranaki conditions were a long way behind Waikato but with no forecast rain, conditions would worsen.

Taranaki Federated Farmers president Harvey Leach, of Rawhitiroa, near Eltham, is advising farmers to look carefully at their financial and feed budgets and to ensure they plan feed demand through to calving. "Planning ahead is crucial," he said.

South Taranaki's Phil Nixon said every day it didn't rain put more pressure on farmers.

"If we don't get rain in the next three weeks, it'll be as bad as it's ever been."

He's feeding his herd on maize left over from last season, grass silage, palm kernel expeller and a 10-tonne turnip crop which had been a godsend.

"I'm comfortable, but I'd be happier if we had rain. Life would be easier if we had more grass."

Production on his 110ha Inaha farm is behind last season, but he's milking fewer cows after planting a paddock in maize. He's milking 230 cows and about to begin autumn calving of 150 cows.

North Taranaki dairy farmer Rosemary Kuriger, of Wai-iti, said she and her husband Michael were now spending half the day feeding out.

"Thank goodness for silage and PKE," she said.

Production on their 67ha farm, where they milk 250 cows, had dropped, but not as much as she expected.

"We're pumping in supplements, and we're still 5 per cent ahead of last year's record.

"We're slipping behind this month, though.

"We try to remain in positive. The rain will eventually come and we just have to hang in until it arrives," she said.

Mrs Knowles said it was important farmers looked after themselves and kept in touch with each other.

"You are not alone," she said.

"It can be a real help to talk to neighbours, or attend your local discussion group and find out how they are managing the situation."

Farmers should take particular care of young stock, both on and off the farm, and ensure they were achieving target weights.

Farmers wanting information about farming in the dry should check the DairyNZ website and talk to rural professionals and other farmers.

Taranaki Daily News