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High Country Misses Rains


10 October 2001 PR152/01

High Country Misses Rains

Although farmers on the east coast of the South Island are welcoming the rain that has been falling over the past three days, Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc) remains concerned over the situation faced by many run holders in the South Island High Country.

Supplementary feed supplies in many parts of the high country are almost depleted and with most high country farmers now into lambing or calving the problems caused by months of well below average rainfall are compounding.

The situation in parts of inland Mackenzie, North and Central Otago is particularly disturbing, according to Alastair Ensor, Chairman of Federated Farmers' South Island High Country Committee. The Canterbury high country has seen very little of the rain that has been falling in the plains over the past days.

"None of the rains of the last few days has reached parts of the Omarama and inland Otago areas. There are properties in these areas which have received less than 125 mm of rain this year, Mr Ensor says. To put it in perspective that is roughly the same amount that has fallen in the Nelson area over the past weekend."

"Lack of rain restricted growth over the earlier part of the year which, in turn, meant that supplementary feed supplies going into the winter were not always ideal."

Animal welfare is the main concern, and Mr Ensor acknowledges that lambing or calving means that it is ill advised to move breeding stock. However, he does urge farmers who are experiencing feed shortages to start effecting contingency plans, if they have not done so already.

"Do not rely on rain coming in the next weeks, Mr Ensor says. This may mean having to send hoggets or breeding stock to the sales or the works, but this is preferable to having them on farm in a distressed condition - or worse."

Most importantly, a farmer experiencing problems should not "do nothing" says Mr. Ensor.

"Stock agents will be able to source feed for stock which cannot be moved, and MAF will offer welfare advice. If you need further assistance, contact your Federated Farmers Provincial or High Country representative. We have a very effective network at the disposal of our members."

ENDS

For more information: Alastair Ensor, PH 03 318 5826 or 025 364 422 Bob Douglas, PH 03 688 4096

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