5 Feb 2015

Farmers advised to plan feed carefully

2:01 pm on 5 February 2015

A dairy organisation has urged farmers in dry parts of the country to carefully consider their feed planning decisions as a feed shortage could be a potential risk.

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Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

DairyNZ said some farmers were facing increasingly severe situations, and were reaching the point where they had to make decisions on feed planning, stock numbers and milking frequency.

General manager of extention Craig McBeth said feed supply was strong at the moment, but if the dry weather continued, it would be used quickly.

"There are good levels of feed generally on hand on farms throughout the country but not every farmer will be in the same situation. There is also other feed available in terms of concentrated feed such as wheat, grains, barley and palm kernel coming into the country," he said.

"The challenge we have is the dry is quite extensive and as it stays dry for longer across large parts of the country then the supply of feed will rapidly diminish and the demand will be increasing, so it is a potential risk that the industry could be facing but at the moment things are looking relatively positive."

Mr McBeth said farmers needed to consider that drying off all their cows too soon was an expensive decision.

He said some farmers moved to milking once a day or every two days to manage stock feed supply, but each situation would be different.

"Each business has its own circumstances and the farmers need to understand their individual circumstances, come up with a plan that's going to be reflective of where their business is likely to head in terms of supply of feed, and the cows that they've got on hand that need feeding, and respond accordingly," he said.

"That will mean planning their feed supplies and also communicating with their bankers around their financial requirements to ensure that they can make good management decisions, which not only respond to their circumstances today but what they need to be planning for and focusing on in the months ahead."

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