Taking stock of feed resources in the wake of floods

// Feed Planning and Strategies

Farmers dealing with the aftermath of recent floods are being advised to take stock of their feed resources and make a plan for the coming weeks and months.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Southern South Island Extension Manager Olivia Ross, says putting together a feed budget will help farmers quickly identify feed deficits so they can make a plan to deal with them.

Options may include grazing stock off farm, buying in feed such as grain and establishing a greenfeed cereal crop (such as triticale or ryecorn) or a perennial pasture for use in late spring. She recommends farmers talk to their agronomists about their forage options.

It is important to have realistic expectations, she says.

“It is too late to establish a short-term ryegrass for winter feed."

“Rather accept and plan for feed deficits this winter and look to maximise production next spring.”

Other issues farmers are dealing with are silt-damaged pastures and flood-damaged baleage.

Olivia says there is detailed information about re-grassing silt damaged pastures in the B+LNZ Flood Recovery Factsheet along with a decision tree to help clarify thinking around the post-flood recovery process.

She warns against feeding forage or feed contaminated by flood water to stock, particularly breeding stock.

“If in doubt, talk your vet or animal health professional.”
Water-damaged baleage could potentially become an environmental hazard if not dealt with correctly.

Olivia says Environment Southland is wanting to hear from farmers who would like help disposing of baleage. Once they get a clear picture of the scale of the problem, they will work with industry and farmers to find solutions.

She encourages flood-affected farmers to talk to their business support people, such as their bank manager, accountant, agronomist and vet to get the best advice for their farm and situation.

“They should be able to help you make decisions that will help get your business back up and running as quickly as possible.”

To Do list

  1. Secure fences and fix water systems.
  2. Document damage and actions for possible government assistance, insurance claims and your own records.
  3. Assess pasture damage – pastures under water for two to three days will probably recover, any longer and the likelihood of pasture loss increases.
  4. Soil test silted paddocks.
  5. Dispose of water contaminated baleage.
  6. Carry out a feed inventory and complete a feed budget. Make a plan to meet short and long-term feed and production goals.
  7. Consider ways to reduce stock numbers/feed requirements e.g cull, dry off a proportion of the herd, graze off.
  8. Get agronomic and fertilizer advice.
  9. Tap into farmer support services such as the Rural Support Trust.

Help at hand

Baleage disposal

Call 0508baleage for help with baleage disposal. You will need the following information:

  1. Farm address.
  2. Contact details for the person in charge.
  3. Number of bales.
  4. Where the bales are located.
  5. Accessibility.
  6. Condition of the baleage. Intact or not. Wet or dry?
  7. Are they in or near a waterway?
  8. Any other comments regarding difficulties of recovering, using, or disposing of baleage. They want to clearly know what help is needed.


Donations to the Southland Rural Support Trust to assist their work with flood affected farmers can be made to bank account 03-0915-0414113-000.