12 Apr 2010

Drought-hit farmer determined to hold onto stock

2:07 pm on 12 April 2010

A farmer on an island in the Hauraki Gulf, says sheep and beef farmers in the drought zone are doing all they can to hang onto their stock.

Last week the Government extended the drought zone in the upper North Island at Northland, to include Waikato, and the Rodney, Papakura and Manukau districts.

Richard Chamberlain, farms at Ponui Island near Waiheke Island, says it is the driest he's seen in several decades, and he's been forced to graze half of his stock on the mainland.

Many sheep and beef farmers were forced to sell stock at very low prices during the devastating 2008 drought, he says, and he's hoping this won't happen again.

"You're selling stock into a depressed market anyway, and then when you're buying back in, obviously there's easier demand, so you're caught both ends."

However Mr Chamberlain says he can't let animals lose condition, so if it stays dry till June he may be forced to sell stock.

Mr Chamberlain says the island's last significant rainfall was in December and the ground is rock hard, with cracks appearing.