While no-one can make it rain, there are management strategies that farmers can put in place to protect the future performance of their capital breeding stock, such as early weaning, body condition scoring and feed budgets.
Most importantly, farmers need to look after the well-being of themselves and their families. As well as making use of networks (friends, family and neighbours, rural professionals) there are local agencies, such as the Rural Support Trust who are there to support farming families. Please don’t hesitate to seek assistance.
Below is a list of resources and decision-support tools to help you and your staff manage in this exceptional weather.
Feed planning support contact information
B+LNZ’s feed planning service is still up and running and will help farmers put together a feed budget and consolidate their thinking around feed and stock management. Farmers facing feed deficits are encouraged to make use of this service.
- Dry stock sector – Beef + Lamb New Zealand: 0800BEEFLAMB (0800 233 352).
- Dairy sector – DairyNZ: 0800 4 DairyNZ (0800 4 3247969).
Tools for extreme dry management
- Download - Extreme Dry Management Toolkit
This comprehensive booklet is laid out in three sections: Leading into extreme dry; as the dry intensifies; and recovery from extreme dry. In this way, you can cut to the section that is
relevant to you at a particular point in time. There is also search functionality and further reading links throughout the document.
- Download - Strategies used by farmers in drought
This fact sheet outlines strategies used by South Island farmers in 2015/16 to manage and mitigate the effects of drought.
- Web Link - Coping with stress on the farm?
Stress is a normal physical response to changes or events. This fantastic website has tips on what you can do to manage stress, as well as information and support available.
- Web Link - Rural people helping rural people
Free support from local rural people who really understand the pressures of rural life.
- Podcast - Breakfeed: Managing your farm and your feed budget in dry conditions
Richmond Beetham, a consultant for BakerAg talks with Beef + Lamb New Zealand Extension Manager Mark Harris and Wairarapa farmer Sam Johnston about how best to tackle a drought.
- Download - Guidance on extreme dry management
This fact sheet provides help and guidance on managing the effects of extreme dry and focusing particularly on feed requirements.
- Video - Drought Decisions
Filmed during the 2016 drought, the B+LNZ Northern North Island Farmer Council talk to a local farmer about the importance of proactive decision making.
- Web Link - NIWA daily climate maps
These daily maps keep you updated with soil moisture and rainfall measurements and is a simple measure of drought.
- Web Link - Weather forecast for New Zealand
This Norwegian website forecasts New Zealand weather with a high level of detail for climatic conditions.
- Web Link - NIWA outlook for seasonal climate conditions
Take a look at NIWA’s outlook for future indicators affecting the climate in New Zealand.
- Web Link - Pasture Growth Forecaster
This tool calculates pasture growth from predicted NIWA climate forecasts based on environmental conditions across New Zealand.
- Web Link - Take extra care with fire
Check the Rural Fire Season status for your location here. For tips around reducing fire risk, check out the Rural farm and business fire safety checklist here.
- Case studies: B+LNZ commissioned case studies in Apri 2020 from around the country that provide real life examples of the best handling the current drought situation from a feed and financial perspective that may be useful for farmers as they consider their tactical and strategic decisions. They include:
- B+LNZ Drought Management Regional Case Study – Dargaville, Northland (April 2020)
- B+LNZ Regional Case Study – Southland (April 2020)
- Hawke's Bay Feed Management AgFirst Case Study (April 2020)
- Future Farm Feed Management Case Study (April 2020)
Animal Health & Welfare Tools
- Download - Maintaining the welfare and productivity of sheep and cattle
Keeping grazed livestock at a comfortable temperature makes good sense for both animal welfare and productivity reasons.
- Download - Managing stressed stock
Whatever the cause of the event, the priorities for stock management when stress occurs remains the same: water, feed, shelter and maintaining good health.
- Download - Flystrike
Controlling flystrike requires attention to many factors. What does it look like, what can be done and ways to manage are included in this fact sheet.
- Download - Trace element nutrition of cattle
Assessing the trace element status of your herd should be part of your animal health programme.
- Download (NI only) - Understanding Facial Eczema
From short to long term management, the findings in this book are based on research.
- Download - Worm management
Minimise the impact of worms on animal performance while minimising the selection for drench resistance.
- Web Link - AgPest text alerts
Sign up to get free region-specific texts to your phone to help you deal with pasture pests and weeds.
- Web Link - Lucerne text alerts
Sign up to get free management updates to your phone. These will help you get the best out of this drought-tolerant forage.
- Podcast - Tips on how to get the best out of your flock
Peter Young has spent a couple of decades farming in one of the most extreme climates in NZ. On this podcast Peter shares his knowledge to increase the profitability of your flock.
Feeding decision tools
- Web Link - Feed Budgeting
A summary of all Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s tools and guides for feed planning in one place.
- Podcast - Feed quality
San Jolly, a well-known farm consultant from Australia, talks to us about feed quality on this podcast.
- App Download - FeedSmart – feed budgeting app
Free to download, this app helps make feeding decisions and once downloaded, is available offline on your device, anytime.
- Video - Using the FeedSmart app – an introduction
This video provides an overview of the FeedSmart app, developed to calculate feed requirements for animals.
- Download - FeedSmart user guide
This user guide has step by step instructions on how to download and use this free feed planning app.
- Web Link - Principles of feeding: growing and grazing pasture
Available on our knowledge hub, this module will help you to understand the main types of pastures and how to effectively graze them.
- Web Link - Feed fundamentals
Available on our knowledge hub, this module will help you to understand the fundamentals of feed quantity, feed quality and animal energy requirements to increase farm profitability.
- Download - A guide to feed planning for sheep farmers
This book is one to keep on hand to refer to when it comes to feed planning, animal needs and seasonal considerations.
- Download - Guide to New Zealand Cattle Farming
From breeding, feed and efficiency, through to animal health and welfare, this 144-page book has a wealth of information to help make the most of your cattle herd.
- Download - Energy requirements of cattle
This fact sheet provides a summary of energy requirements for cattle including maintenance, pregnancy, condition score and liveweight change.
- Request - Sward stick and fact sheet
A sward stick is a simple but effective tool to measure pasture height. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll send you a sward stick as well as a fact sheet on how to use it.
- Web Link - FeedSmart workshops
This workshop helps to take the guesswork out of feed planning and you will leave the workshop with an improved understanding of pasture management. Visit our events page to see when one is available in your region or contact your local B+LNZ Extension Manager.
Body Condition Scoring Tools
- Web Link - Body condition scoring – sheep
Know why BCS sheep is important and learn the basics of how to BCS your sheep.
- Download - Body condition scoring - beef cows
This resource book covers the “when”, “how” and “parts to consider” when BCS your beef cows.
- Web Link - Body condition scoring workshop – sheep or beef
By attending either of these workshops, you will be provided with a platform to bring together all the critical elements of condition scoring. Visit our events page to see when one is available in your region or contact your local B+LNZ Extension Manager.
Regional Council Water-Use Advisory
Over summer, Regional Councils will often place water-use restrictions in some regions and catchments in response to dry weather. Please ensure you keep up-to-date with these by clicking on the relevant links below. Compliance is important to ensure there is enough water to meet the needs of all users and the environment.
- Northland Regional Council
- Auckland Council
- Waikato Regional Council
- Gisborne District Council
- Hawke’s Bay Regional Council
- Horizons Regional Council
- Greater Wellington Regional Council
- Bay of Plenty Regional Council
- Tasman District Council
- Marlborough District Council
- West Coast Regional Council
- Environment Canterbury
- Otago Regional Council
- Environment Southland