15 Feb 2010

Wet summer brings Hawke's Bay farmers new challenges

6:01 am on 15 February 2010

A Hawke's Bay hill country farmer says the region's unexpected summer rainfall has left farmers with not enough stock to eat the extra grass.

Bruce Wills, who farms in the ranges off the Napier Taupo Road, says after three years of adjusting to almost continual drought, farmers are now coping with the other extreme.

He says his Northern Hawke's Bay farm received 475mm of rain last month, when it would normally get none.

Apart from Cyclone Bola in 1988, no other month since 1955 came anywhere near that.

He says livestock are thriving in the rare summer growth conditions, but it's left farmers wondering where to find the stock to eat all the extra grass.

Mr Wills says the average farm in northern Hawke's Bay is 25% down on normal stock levels.

He says the rain has filled dams that have been empty for years but there are stock health challenges too, with farmers having to dip and drench stock more frequently to keep down fly numbers and internal parasites.