Rural round-up

Drought unlikely to trigger recession – James Weir:

The summer drought is likely to have the economy knocked backwards in the June quarter, possibly down 0.2 per cent, though there is no risk of a slide into recession, economists say.

While the official figures will be “unflattering” for the economy, after subdued growth of just 0.3 per cent in the March quarter, there should be a strong bounce in the September quarter forecasters say.

Official figures for economic growth are due on Thursday. They are expected to show the full damage from a slump in milk production and a drop in livestock slaughter numbers, after a spike up earlier in the year because of the drought. . .

Windy weather creates lambing headaches – Tim Cronshaw:

Gale-force winds have made life difficult for newborn lambs, and hill country farmers have their fingers crossed that the good luck for lambing on the Canterbury Plains lasts for them.

The lambing beat officially starts today for the hill and high country, and farmers there have watched lambs in the down country come through with a good run.

Survival rates have been high so far, although some mismothering was expected as a result of last Tuesday’s howling nor’westers, preventing lambs from moving and seeking warmth from ewes. . .

No evidence tail docking detrimental:

Preliminary findings of research into tail docking by Alliance Group have found that leaving a lamb’s tail longer or intact has no long-term beneficial or detrimental effect on its growth rate.

The southern-based company has just completed the first year of a three-year study.

Tail docking is common practice among New Zealand farmers. It is thought to help reduce dag formation and the risk of fly strike, a major cost to the sheep industry. However, to date there has been little objective information or research on the benefits, or otherwise, of the practice. . .

Fonterra has big plans for China – Dene Mackenzie:

Fonterra Co-operative Group has played down the implications of the whey contamination scare as it pushes ahead with a plan to double its milk production in China.

Although the world’s largest milk exporter identified some shortcomings in processes during the review, the co-operative says its staff on most occasions acted conscientiously on new information, and generally sought to do the right thing. . .

Need to enshrine horse heritage – Sally Rae:

Department of Conservation policies need to ensure that high country horse heritage is remembered, fostered and supported, horse-trekking enthusiasts say.

The High Country Pleasure Riders group, which was established in 1999 and is the largest horse-trekking club in the South Island, has made submissions to Doc’s draft conservation management strategies in both Canterbury and Otago.

The club has an annual calendar of weekend horse treks throughout the high country, often traversing public conservation land. . .

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