Planning ahead for adverse weather events

// Farm Planning

The recent cold snap created some challenges for farmers grazing winter forage crops and highlighted the importance of having plans in place for adverse weather events such as extreme cold, heavy snow or rain.

image of cow grazing in winter crops

Tom Orchiston B+LNZ’s Environment Capability Manager-South Island, says poor weather is inevitable over winter, and to help protect soil, water and animal welfare, farmers intensively grazing winter forage crops should have plans in place to manage stock and crops through adverse weather.

This could include budgeting extra feed and increasing the area available to livestock. Saving crop in a lower risk, sheltered part of the paddock for use in wet weather or snow can be useful, as can moving stock to lower risk paddocks. For example, moving stock off paddocks with heavier soils to paddocks with lighter soils during prolonged periods of wet weather.

Standing stock off the crop and onto laneways and rough grass paddocks is a good short-term strategy, but it is important to remember when using laneways or feed pads, that stock need to have access to comfortable loafing areas.

Other factors to consider when planning for adverse weather events include shelter for stock, the ability to safely access the paddock to keep soil damage to a minimum and the safety of the farm team. It is important to keep a watch for poor weather and keep an eye on the latest forecasts and weather warnings. 

“Put together a plan and have a conversation with the farm team so everyone knows what to do during the worst of winter.”

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