12 Jul 2017

South Island farmers well prepared for snow

4:55 pm on 12 July 2017

While the wintry blast is closing roads and causing delays across the country - farmers say they are well prepared for the first storm of winter.

Cattle in the snow on Blair Drysdale's farm in Southland.

Cattle in the snow on Blair Drysdale's farm in Southland. Photo: Supplied / Blair Drysdale

Some farmers in the South Island woke up to a blanket of snow this morning and snow is also falling in parts of the North island.

Just off the Inland Kaikōura road is Whalesback station, a 4000 hectare sheep, beef and deer farm owned by the Northcote family.

It is the highest altitude farm in the area, with grazing up to 900 metres.

Hugh Northcote said it was a cold and white start to the day.

"We've had 20 centimetres of snow overnight and luckily just a few snow showers this morning so it hasn't really built up much more.

Mr Northcote said it's a farm that catches the snow from time to time and he always has a plan in place.

"The Metservice had been talking about this cold southerly coming through so we pushed on with that plan which involved moving stock to areas that catch less snow and tend to clear more quickly.

"The stock we had behind break fences we've moved onto hill blocks just simply because it's not practical to break fence under these conditions."

Snow has already fallen to low levels in the South Island and more snow showers are forecast through Wednesday and Thursday in southern and eastern areas.

More snow would be bad news for the farm, said Mr Northcote.

"Once the snow gets deep and the stock can't move around it becomes a different scenario for us. We've either got to get feed to them or get them on to ridges and areas that will clear first and keep hoping it doesn't get deeper."

He said Metservice is talking about the weather turning to the north west, which is good news because it will start to thaw his farm.

Further down the island, in Balfour, Southland sheep and beef farmer Blair Drysdale has had less snow and said it was business as usual.

"Just a couple of inches on the ground, nothing too major - winter as to be expected. We were well forewarned about it so people should have been well prepared for it."

Mr Drysdale said he was making sure the cattle had a good feed to get them through the cold snap.

"I'm putting out plenty of supplements so they've got plenty of tucker in front of them through today and tomorrow as well... they're pretty happy and content.

"We're very used to it and cope with it well. Farmers are very resilient people as a rule and we deal with these situations as they come upon us."

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