1 Jan 2021

Farmers urged to have good stock welfare plans

5:02 pm on 1 January 2021

The government spent $19 million in 2020 on rural communities affected by drought.

NIWA is predicting more trying weather conditions this summer.

NIWA is predicting more trying weather conditions this summer. Photo: Supplied / MPI

The Ministry for Primary Industries said some of the money went into feed planning and coordination services, with an additional $350,000 allocated to extend the service until the end of June this year.

The director of animal health and welfare was advising farmers to ensure they had good plans for managing stock welfare as summer sets in.

Weather forecasters said the La Niña weather pattern could mean below-average rainfall for parts of the South Island and lower North Island in the weeks ahead.

The most likely affected areas would be west and south of Christchurch, with a more humid than average summer, according to the Crown Research Institute's latest Seasonal Climate Outlook.

Dr Chris Rodwell, who was also the Ministry for Primary Industries' veterinarian, said most farmers were good at managing year-round weather extremes, but right now the priority was on ensuring that stock had access to shelter and water.

"A good plan will reduce stress and ensure that the dry summer will not impact on the following season's production."

As the fire season set in, Dr Rodwell said it was important to have a proper evacuation plan in place for staff and livestock.

"If it's not safe for you, it's not safe for your animals."

Dr Chris Rodwell, the director of animal health and welfare and MPI veterinarian.

Dr Chris Rodwell, the director of animal health and welfare and MPI veterinarian. Photo: Supplied / MPI

He said if farmers had to evacuate, but could not take stock with them, then they needed to leave open gates, and ensure stock had access to water.

Dr Rodwell said livestock needed to be safe from heat and cold stress, with dairy cows more sensitive to heat than cold.

He added that a good idea during summer was to graze cows close to the dairy shed, to reduce walking distances for milking and allow them move at their own pace.

It was also wiser to milk cows later in the afternoon or early evening when the temperature has dropped, provide supplementary feed at night and provide shade or use a sprinkler system in the dairy yard, while cows waited to be milked.

Dr Rodwell said dairy cows could each drink more than 100 litres a day in summer, so it was imperative they had access to clean drinking water.

Livestock like these cows need to be protected from weather extremes, the  Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) says.

Livestock needs to be protected from weather extremes, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) says. Photo: Supplied / MPI

Farmers who needed support had several avenues open to them

Feed planning service

This service helps farmers set a feed budget.

0800 BEEFLAMB (0800 23 33 52)

0800 4 DairyNZ (0800 4 324 7969)

Feed coordination service

Farmers short of feed are encouraged to register here.

Rural Support Trust

0800 RURAL HELP or 0800 787 254

Beef + Lamb New Zealand

A comprehensive dry management toolkit for sheep and beef farmers.

DairyNZ

Resources to help dairy farmers manage through a dry period.

Federated Farmers