10 Mar 2014

Palm kernel costs making life harder

10:01 am on 10 March 2014

The skyrocketing price of palm kernel is making life even more difficult for dairy farmers in Northland who have run out of pasture for their cows.

On Northland's west coast.

On Northland's west coast. Photo: SUPPLIED

DairyNZ Far North consulting officer Kylie Harnett says it is so dry that pastures are at permanent wilting point - and for many farmers there's no pasture at all.

Cow condition is beginning to deteriorate on some farms, she says, and the ever-increasing price of palm kernel isn't helping matters.

"It's skyrocketing on a daily basis, which is really, really hard for us, because we're not buying it to milk cows now, we're actually buying it for survival, to get our cows through until it rains. So yes, it does make things quite difficult.

"It's because other areas in New Zealand are starting to get drier too, so as soon as it dries out then there is more demand."

Ms Harnett says the local community is helping affected farmers through their second straight dry season.

"We're lucky, we've got a very good, close community around here."

However, she says it's important to make sure farmers access the services available.