Counting the cost of the snow

The south has had reasonable weather for lambing and calving.

Even after last weekend’s cold snap there haven’t been reports of many stock losses.

It’s been much tougher in the Central North Island.

“This brutally cold southerly flow couldn’t have come at a worse time for Hawke’s Bay farmers. There’s a massive risk that the combination of snow and cold winds could put stress on newborn livestock,” says Kevin Mitchell, Federated Farmers Hawke’s Bay president.

“Several Hawke’s Bay farmers are in the middle of late lambing and sadly, some newborns may perish in the freezing conditions. The snow has unfortunately hit at a critical time in the farming cycle. Farmers I have spoken to worked through the night in order to save as many lambs as possible.

This unseasonal snow comes after a very dry autumn and in the face of falling prices.

Lambs which would have sold for $90 last summer are expected to fetch only $70 this year. Demand is high and supplies are low, but the high dollar is being blamed for depressing returns to farmers.

2 Responses to Counting the cost of the snow

  1. gravedodger says:

    20 years on Wairarapa hill country had two major weather challenges and when they coincided it could be brutal.
    One was the too often autumn drought depleteing natures grass reserves to a point in Late May or June where the only grass was fresh and green and the metabolic disorders reared their ugly head. Off farm grazing being the only solution as supplementary feeding on the steeper farms was difficult and the off farm grazing option came under pressure.
    The second was the october southerly phenomena we have just witnessed (thankfully in our case never as serious as this) where the wind seemed to come from Antarctica often with little rain but wind chill that was unbelievable. Again with feed supplies under pressure as winter gave way to spring metabolic disorders became major challenges for the beef cows. Lambs were on the ground and setback to growth was their biggest challenge, for the cows it was lethal.
    The worst hit areas for this storm are at quite high altitude and the lambing is happening now, I feel for those farmers and their animals.
    Global warming, climate change and disturbed weather patterns bah humbug. As someone said elsewhere yesterday just let the sun get some freckles


  2. Ed Snack says:

    You’re right about the prices though, overseas lamb prices are good, very good even, but with the US$ exchange at 0.73, that really takes a bite out of the returns. I doubt that any processor is making even a return at the plant level, let alone on overheads, at the moment. Tough times.


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