23 Jun 2020

Hawke's Bay not in the clear after drought despite 'brilliant' rain

9:50 am on 23 June 2020

Rainfall in drought-hit Hawke's Bay was good news for farmers across the region but the impact of the long dry spell will be with them for the season.

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The daily grind of feeding and watering stock on parched Hawke's Bay paddocks during the drought was documented by 12-year-old Selby Jowsey on his family's farm at Kereru, 45km west of Hastings. Photo: Selby Jowsey

Despite "brilliant rain" over the past week many farmers were still running short of stock feed, Federated Farmers Hawke's Bay president Jim Galloway said.

"Most farmers are well down on the stock they would normally carry. They are very short of feed and every day they're looking at what they have to do or what they can do to get through."

Farmers have been destocking, and feeding some animals lower quality feed as they use the better feed for animals in lamb or calf.

The region will be 30 percent fewer lambs this season because farmers have had to sell off stock, he said.

That will not only affect farmers but meat works and potentially the whole community.

"Everyone's been working really hard since February. Most farmers have been feeding out every day. It's just been a slog and your head down. You're looking at your stock and what you can do to feed them better tomorrow or the next day or next month.

"It does take a mental toll as much as a physical toll."

*Read more: 12-year-old photographer brings drought struggles home

There has been good access to feed from the South Island and other part so the North Island. Getting out of lockdown and having saleyards operating again has been a big help to farmers, he said.

"The prices have been pretty shocking but at least they've been albe to move them and they know it's a market price."

Galloway said the slightly warmer than average weather has kept up soil temperatures, which would help grass growth.