This page provides lots of information to help our farmers in drought.
We know that this year’s persistent and severe drought, particularly in Central Hawke’s Bay, combined with Covid-19 pressures, had a major impact on farmers.
That’s why the Hawke’s Bay Rural Advisory Group in partnership with Hawke’s Bay Emergency Management and Hawke’s Bay Regional Council created this drought support hub.
The Rural Advisory Group have now moved from a drought response to recovery stage.
It’s not too late to develop a plan for this drought. A good plan will reduce stress and mitigate the effects of the drought for next year’s production.
It may not be easy to predict when it will rain, but a plan provides the framework for what decisions need to be made and when. The plan needs to be reviewed as conditions change.
Monday 19 April
The showery weather over the past week delivered about 5 mm in lowland areas and 20 mm in the ranges (35 mm in the very far north). The totals haven’t made a big difference to how we are tracking compared to average rainfall for the month. Most areas sit on 20-25% of normal April rainfall.
Soil moisture hasn’t made great gains either. Both Bridge Pa and Crownthorpe are in the lowest 10th percentile of readings for the time of year. Taharua has also just snuck into that category. Ongaonga looks positively healthy in comparison but is still below the median for mid-April. Hangaroa, in the north, is the standout and soil moisture there is above median levels. The temperatures have cooled – 13 °C on the Heretaunga Plains, 15 °C on the Ruataniwha Plains and 12 °C in the ranges. All of which looks near to below normal for the time of year.
The region should get some rain this week from a low that crosses the North Island during Tuesday and Wednesday and a front that approaches from the west over the weekend. A cold snap and some more rain may feature early next week. The northwest ranges are likely to see the highest falls over the period of about 40 mm and with any luck much of the region will see 10-20 mm, with some hill country areas reaching 30 mm possibly.
Feed co-ordinators have been appointed in the North and South Island. Their role is to collect information about feed needs, and where possible connect farmers with any feed that may be available.
MPI has appointed feed co-ordinators. Their role is to collect information about feed needs, and where possible connect farmers with any feed that may be available.
To use this service you can call your feed budget support number who will take your information:
As the feed you usually want may not be available, it's critical that you have built a feed budget to identify how you are going to balance limited grass, silage and baleage supplies with grain and other feeds.
Email your existing feed plan to : email@example.com
Use the “I Need Feed” link online. :
This service does not give free feed, nor subsidise costs.
Use the new feed budgeting service. The first two levels of help are FREE.
The third tier of support is using a consultant, either from those recommended or one of your choosing and it’s at your own cost.
Call 0800 4DAIRYNZ or 0800 BEEFLAMB
Hawke’s Bay is experiencing feed shortages, exacerbated by a reduction in processing capacity as a result of the new protocols that processing companies have to follow in order to operate during the Covid-19 lockdown.
Beef and Lamb NZ are urging farmers to act now and to figure out how much feed they have and what steps they need to take, in case they are not able to get their stock processed when they want.
Supplied by Greg Tattersfield, Vet Services Hawkes Bay.
It takes time for the rumen to adjust to a change in diet, the more contrasting the diet the longer it takes. There is a significant risk of milk fever in spreading ewes on lush, nitrogen boosted feed after a period of supplementary feeding, especially after yarding or significant time off feed.
For ewes on high grain/pellet rations the allocation should be gradually reduced over a 7-10 day period to nil concentrate feed 2-3 days before set stocking. The resulting decrease in energy intake should be accounted for by increasing or at least maintaining the fibre source being feed and increasing the pasture allocation.
Ewes need to mobilise calcium from their bones to grow the lamb and produce colostrum. This is a fine balance especially in older, multiple bearing ewes. It takes 2-3 days for a ewe to adjust the calcium balance after a change in feed type or quantity. Grazing ewes on plantain pre-lamb then set stocking on perennial pastures will almost certainly induce milk fever.
Yarding heavily pregnant ewes even for a few hours can induce milk fever. The risk is increased after a prolonged period of under feeding and in older multiple bearing ewes. If ewes go down shortly after yarding/off feed its more likely to be milk fever than sleepy sickness.
This means the time off feed should be minimised, this is more important the closer lambing gets
Low body condition score ewes (BCS 2.5 and below) are much more prone to worms, combined with underfeeding, these ewes would benefit from a long acting drench. A cost effective increase in lamb survival, lamb weaning weight, ewe survival and ewe body condition score is expected. This is especially evident in 2 tooth ewes and light twinning ewes.
Lice infestations also affect productivity, a ewe burning energy rubbing on a fence and not eating is losing body condition. If ewes are lousy now use a product that will “knockdown” adult lice. Insect growth regulators don’t kill the adult lice so affect won’t be visible for 3-4 weeks after treatment. It’s much harder to achieve control of lice in long wool sheep. Talk to your vet about control options.
Trace Element Status
Vitamin B12 and Selenium status in ewes is likely to be lower than normal for your farm due to prolonged decrease in pasture intakes. There are various B12 and Selenium treatment options available, some combined with a clostridial vaccination.
Low body condition score ewes may not produce high enough quality colostrum to protect lambs until weaning
Poplars and willows can be pollarded for supplementary feed by removal of leaders and branches from the tree trunk above cattle grazing height. Trees will easily regrow new branches, and trees can be pollarded on a 2 – 3 year cycle. Poplar and willows leaves have 65–70% dry matter digestibility, with a crude protein level of 15%. Cattle eat trimmings up to 10mm diameter and sheep up to 5mm diameter.
Operator safety is paramount when pruning or pollarding poplars and willows; remember it is dangerous and illegal to use a chainsaw above shoulder height. However with the right precautions and equipment, trees can be harvested efficiently and safely. More information on pruning, pollarding and safety advice can be found via these links:
Beef + Lamb say that nitrogen fertiliser is worth considering as a short-term tactical response, when in recovery mode. After a period of dry, there is some release of nitrogen in the soil, but a small amount of nitrogen fertiliser (25-30kgN/ha) applied to growing grass with adequate soil moisture and temperature– ideally immediately before rain – will boost growth.
The Regional Council recognises that this drought is unprecedented and farmers are facing major feed shortages and stock issues.
Some dairy farmers may be concerned about how adding extra nitrogen fertiliser will impact their resource consents in the Tukituki catchment.
Nitrogen-leaching in Overseer tends to occur from excess nitrogen excreted in urine. The excess nitrogen comes from cows eating pasture, so given there is less pasture, it would follow that there will be lower amounts of nitrogen leached compared to previous years.
However, farmers may need to keep stock on for longer due to lack of grazing elsewhere, and other reasons, which could increase N-leaching further.
Given every farm system is different, the Regional Council is encouraging farmers to seek advice from their farm consultant/adviser, milk supply company or accredited farm plan provider as to how any changes proposed to their system for drought recovery may affect their nitrogen leaching. Any changes to the farm system must be recorded in your farm’s year end nutrient budget.
Please see this directory of Hawke’s Bay water providers.
For those who have consented irrigation water takes, the water can be used for stock and domestic use, however please talk to the regional council before doing this so we can understand where the water is being used. Contact the water irrigation team here.
If you need help with planning and budgeting for your farm, the Rural Support Trust can point you in the right direction.
Contact Cheryl Nicholls on 029 660 0060 or firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
Livestock are susceptible to nitrate poisoning in certain conditions. Rapidly growing plants after a drought, growing in a rich, nitrogenous soil, are the most dangerous. The main risk plants include second-growth rape, choumollier and turnips, immature green oats and annual rotation grasses. A frost or low sunlight days can increase the risk.
Poisoning is related to the rate of ingestion rather than the quantity and also depends on the type of feed, the amount of carbohydrate in the feed and the time the animal has had to adapt to the nitrate in the feed. Nitrate is converted to nitrite in the rumen which is then absorbed and binds to blood, reducing oxygen carrying capacity.
Animals may be found dead or may show unsteadiness, collapse, difficulty breathing, brown gums and around eyes, and brown blood. Can also lead to abortion in pregnant animals.
If signs of poisoning are seen, move animals slowly and carefully off the toxic feed, feed them hay and seek advice from your vet. Animals that won't move must be treated where they are as pushing them to move can be fatal.
There are ways to manage different levels of toxicity in your crops and it is advisable to talk this through with your vet. Some possible options include:
1. Test any suspect forage before it is grazed.
2. Feed hay before introducing animals to the paddock so they are not as hungry.
3. Only graze the paddock for short times each day eg. half an hour.
4. Wait until the frost has lifted before putting animals on the crop.
5. Get advice around using nitrogen fertilisers (urea) late in the season.
MPI is helping to co-ordinate animal welfare services if needed for affected animals or their owners.
If you have any questions about animal welfare, email email@example.com
MPI is talking to meat companies to help ensure there is capacity at the works for farmers wanting to destock.
Wild Game Salami
|Hawke’s Bay||027 855 9773|
|Hawke’s Bay||027 226 6671|
CHB Meat Processors
|Waipukurau||06 858 8224|
|Clive||06 870 0364|
|HB Farmkill||Napier||06 842 2698|
Medallion Pet Food
0800 364 882
|Carlyle Vet Clinic||
06 835 1096
06 842 2033
|CHB Vets Ltd||
06 858 6555
|Vet Services HB
Vet Services HB
Vet Services HB
06 843 5308
|Vets One||Hastings||06 878 firstname.lastname@example.org|
0800 00 83 33
Call 0800 422 923 for urgent access to essential household goods and services (7am-7pm). If you are unable to call between these hours, fill out a welfare needs referral form here.
It’s understandable to be stressed given the pressures from the drought, combined with the lock down restrictions.
It’s ok, to not be ok.
Here are some simple actions to consider:
• Stay connected with your community and networks, and don’t be afraid to ask for help
• Be kind to yourself and others.
• Keep active, eat well, get sufficient sleep.
• Enjoy the little things in life and take time out.
If you need further support, don’t hesitate to call or text 1737, at any time 24/7 to speak with a trained counsellor.
In this video series, Lance Burdett, of Wellness, Awareness, Resilience and Negotiation (WARN) International, talks directly to farmers about the different aspects of mental well being.
The drought is proving challenging for lifestyle blocks owners who haven’t experienced these kind of conditions.
The Rural Advisory Group is available for support and advice to those who need it. If you want to speak with someone to get some advice, fill in the contact form on this page.
Small block owners can ring AgFirst on 0508 AGFIRST (243 477) for assistance with feed planning. It’s not a service that provides feed, but will help small block owners come up with a plan to care for their stock.
Here are some useful links:
Check out this video of Karen Phillips of CHB Vets discussing pasture and animal welfare - https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=708302450028553
The following recycling providers deal with farm plastic wastes.
Agrecovery (containers only)
How do I prepare my plastic waste for recycling?
Alternative disposal methods
If you need support, call 0800 787 254, and you can speak with a representative from the East Coast Rural Support Trust, who are experienced in managing severe drought conditions on farms.
Our Farmers Hub is a one stop shop for all the information farmers may need from us.
If you would like support and advice from the RAG and satellite teams, contact email@example.com
Applications for the Drought Relief Fund are now closed.
If you need assistance, please do not hesitate to contact the East Coast Rural Support Trust
http://www.rural-support.org.nz - 0800 787 254
Keep in touch with the latest news and information through the Rural Advisory Group's regular e-newsletter.
Sign up to the mailing list to receive the e-newsletter into your inbox.
The 'Hawke's Bay Drought' Facebook page was started by a Maraekakaho farmer. It’s proving to be a great way for people to connect and share experiences. Join the group by using the link below.
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