10 MAY 2020
With no green feed available drought-stricken farmers will feed grain to their livestock, Mid Canterbury Rural Support Trust chairman and livestock grazier Peter Reveley says.
Grazing, balage and silage right across the South Island is all taken up, leaving grain pretty much the only option, Reveley said.
“From the top of the south to the bottom and from the North Island too, both personally and from an RST view we’re getting inquiry coming from virtually everywhere but we just can’t help with green feed.
“We are hearing from some pretty desperate farmers but the reality is there is no green grazing left. The South Island is not completely out but farmers here have to make sure they get to the other end of the season too.”
Grain is available and is a good option to sacrifice paddocks, Reveley said.
“I am full up with my usual quota of cattle for the winter but I am taking another 1000 cows yet and to do that I am feeding grain.”
Speaking to other graziers and agents Reveley said everyone is doing everything they can to help, including helping to find people to buy animals to get them away for desperate farmers.
“There is plenty of grain available and feeding in conjunction with the feed you have got doubles the time for pasture growth, saving feed and allowing the grass to grow.
“That’s what we are doing and weighing every fortnight.
“I’ve got cattle here that have gone from pretty average to gaining 1.4 kilograms a day and we’re making grass and fodder beet last twice as long,” Reveley said.
In South Canterbury AgMatch, an online, farmers’ trading community, has pulled together a viable operation to get locally grown grain to drought-stricken Hawke’s Bay farmers.
“There’s desperate need and we had grain available so it just made good sense to make it happen,” AgMatch director Ken Algie said.
Algie put together a group that includes grain growers, transport and seed companies, a coastal shipping operation and a bulk storage-distribution facility in Napier.
From the grower to the end destination Algie has facilitated a process making it viable to ship the grain to the North Island.
“Everybody has stood up and supported it, in fact been bloody fantastic.
“It’s all being done in a fair and reasonable means. It has to be. If anybody is greedy it’s not going to work.”
The grain is shipped in bulk to Napier though it can be bagged before shipping but the bagging process is easier and more efficient in Napier.
“We have managed to organise a competitive option for shipping the grain from Timaru to Napier. The first shipment has been completed so the system is proven. It landed on budget and in good condition.”
Barley at $380 a tonne plus GST ex farm will cost about $480 plus GST landed in Napier ex store in bulk bags for distribution. Bulk grain is cheaper.
The first shipment of rolled wheat cost $500 plus GST ex storage in Napier.
Algie doesn’t expected the prices to move significantly.
“But it always remains a possibility as feed pricing is pretty volatile at present but our growers have a responsible attitude to pricing and want to make this work.”
Other feeds are available in that price range but all feeds must be ordered before shipping.
The next shipment will head north in the first week of June and depending on demand a second shipment is likely in mid June.
A drought block is also available.
Formulated in Australia to boost drought-affected animals it is an option that has proved effective there.
The Primary Industries Ministry has hired two feed co-ordinators, one in each island, to take inquires from farmers who need feed or have feed to sell.
The co-ordinators will assess the scale of the feed shortage and work quickly to connect farmers with available sources.
MPI urges farmers to do feed budgets through to spring, do them once, do them right and do them long-term.
Ken Algie, 021 337 626
Dry stock sector, 0800 233 352
Dairy sector, 0800 4 324 7969