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A Difficult Start to the Season

Greetings Readers

Early indicators that this will be a substantially different farming season from last year are showing up.

Lambing and calving is underway with stock feeling the effect of a colder and in some parts more recently a wetter winter than experienced for the past season or two.

Early spring growth seems to have less energy as a result of the cold and wet dull days of the past six weeks. A circuit through the Manawatu today showed a reasonable incidence of downer dairy cows resting or being attended to in sheltered paddocks visible from the road.

With supplements expensive and expectations for a good season being high farmers will be using their best risk management techniques to balance the purchase of further supplements against the hope that the feed will grow in the next week or two.

A disturbing element of the media’s interest in farming at the moment is the focus on starved stock and the neglect of individual farmers in allowing these things to happen.

At this time it seems that the management capabilities of a few poor farmers have provided an opportunity for implied criticism of all farmers. But even worse is the contention that our markets will judge all on the neglect of the few.

Livestock farmers are in a pincer movement between the fixed perceptions of animal welfare by a critical urban community and the quite variable conditions provided by nature.

The farmers’ dilemma is much like that of the power generation industry, if the climate strays too far from the norm nothing can change the low flow of rivers into the storage lakes. However, it is unlikely that the generation companies will be taken before the court to answer for their neglect in starving the electricity consumer.

Spring is a stressful time for farmers but the added burden of providing suitable stock feed in a season like this, compounds the worry. It is a time for neighbourly support and a helpful approach where problems become visible over the next week or two.

Good farming

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