29 Jun 2015

Farmers share stock to combat drought

8:00 am on 29 June 2015

Farmers, stock agents and meat processors in North Canterbury are working together to find grazing solutions for drought-affected farmers and their stock.

There has been no heavy rain in the area since June of last year.

There has been no heavy rain in the area since June of last year. Photo: RNZ / Patrick Phelps

North Canterbury is suffering one of the worst droughts the region has ever seen, and freezing temperatures mean the ground is now too cold for any new grass to grow.

Federated Farmers North Canterbury meat and fibre chair Dan Hodgen said that as feed supplies in the region dwindle, large numbers of stock either had to be relocated, or other solutions such as farm sharing would have to be found.

He said the farm sharing idea came from Cheviot farmer Nick Ensor.

"The idea was to try and find solutions for some of these ewes that may not be able to come home for lambing given just where they're at up there ... we're estimating 50 to 60,000 ewes are away on grazing and it's going to be quite difficult for some of those to come back.

"The aim, and what they've said they'll do, is work together to try and find share farming arrangements, which doesn't happen a lot with sheep, but has happened in the past with beef.

"Or find other ways for them to go in the hope of perhaps keeping some of those valuable capital stock alive and able to come back home at some stage."

Mr Hodgen said he had never heard of this happening before.

"These are commercial rivals I guess, and they've committed to coming together because they can see the situation is pretty untidy and by doing so they can help."

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