Meat & Livestock News

Planning for Anticipated Severe Drought

Key figures in the primary sector are preparing for the possibility of one of the nation’s most severe droughts. Lochie MacGillivray, a consultant with AgFirst based in Hawke’s Bay, extensively researches strategies East Coast farmers can employ to cope with a drought.

MacGillivray highlights that many farmers are already grappling with financial challenges due to depressed commodity prices and the costs incurred from damages caused by Cyclone Gabrielle and subsequent rainfall. 

Northern Hawke’s Bay, in particular, has witnessed significant infrastructure damage. While some repairs have been made, others are pending, and temporary fixes will eventually require permanent solutions.

Another challenge is the ongoing movement of hills, which hinders fence repairs. This has resulted in larger groups of sheep, contrasting the usual smaller groups.

 On a brighter note, many farms report high lambing percentages with many triplets, and their survival rates are commendable. 

However, MacGillivray points out that the current value of livestock might be lower than usual. He cautions about the impending challenges, especially with the onset of a dry period.

The primary concern is the added strain on farmers transitioning from a particularly wet winter to rapidly drying conditions. 

MacGillivray emphasises the importance of early and meticulous planning to navigate the drought. He cites examples of farmers who have effectively used whiteboards to list and manage decisions, setting specific trigger points for action. 

Such meticulous planning, even for seemingly minor decisions, has proven beneficial in past droughts. MacGillivray encourages farmers to seek external support and regularly review their strategies.