Extreme weather creates testing time for farmers

// Biosecurity

Extreme weather is affecting farmers at both ends of the country and while they are very different weather events, they both require farmers to make timely decisions.


Will Halliday, Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Senior Advisor Animal Welfare and Biosecurity, says flood affected farmers in the north will be dealing with infrastructure damage as well as silt damaged pastures and feed crops, while farmers in the south are facing feed and water shortages due to the on-going hot, dry weather.

He says the immediate priority in northern regions is the safety and well-being of people and he urges farmers and farm staff not to take any risks when trying to tend to livestock or damaged infrastructure.

“While obviously the care and welfare of livestock is important, the safety of people is the number one priority before ensuring stock are contained and have access to feed and water.”

He says immediate support is available for farmers through the Rural Support Trust on 0800 787 254 and B+LNZ has excellent flood resources available.

The 'Recovering from a flood' factsheet covers four aspects of the business; people, livestock, operational and land and provides timelines and action-plans around each. This factsheet includes a decision tree to support decision-making and a detailed guide for re-grassing sediment.

The 'Health and safety post-flood' factsheet outlines farmers’ responsibilities when dealing with a volunteer workforce, covers-off the regulatory requirements for farmers and volunteers and provides practical advice on ensuring everyone’s safety in what can be a dangerous environment.

In Southland, Central Otago and the West Coast, farmers are facing a more insidious situation with the on-going dry weather and Will encourages farmers to be proactive in their decision-making.

“A bad decision made early will always beat a good decision made late and farmers who have had experience dealing with prolonged drought always talk about the importance of early decision-making.”

He recommends farmers set dates and if the situation hasn’t changed by that date, then a pre-determined action should be taken.

“This might be buying in supplementary feed or finding off-farm grazing for ewe lambs or any number of scenarios that will help protect the performance of capital stock as much as possible. It’s best not to delay a decision in the hope it will rain instead.”

B+LNZ has drought resources available which include advice and case studies from farmers who have farmed through drought and financial advice for drought-affected farmers.

For detailed information on managing in the aftermath of a flood event or drought go to: