The far North is used to a dry summer but this year a kind winter and spring provided little in the way of moisture so Northland has found itself very short not only of feed but water as well.
The days have provided great beach weather but made trading stock very difficult and while the store cattle markets are ticking along on low volume, trying to get stock into processors is proving to be a battle.
PGG Wrightson agent Vaughan Vujcich said good foresight by farmers at the end of last year means there is not a lot of store stock trading. “Farmers traded a lot of cattle before Christmas as they knew it was going to get dry and that has taken the heat off now. We had the smallest sales for the start of a year ever at Kaikohe.” That is fortunate given local demand for cattle is non-existent with no stock moving in the paddock and other yards also trading at very low levels. Requests are for rain as soon as possible though, as the beef weaner fair season is creeping up.
While the store markets are unusually quiet the processors are working as hard as they can to offload stock for farmers but that is being met with challenges including lack of staff and water restrictions at a time when it needs to be full steam ahead. Spring calving is not far off and dairy farmers are scanning to offload empties though they are meeting big wait times. Some cattle do head to processors further down the island but they are also working to full capacity and so can take only restricted volume. Another challenge is that Mycoplasma bovis cattle are priority and taking space off regular customers. “It is a lot of little, significant factors plus the dry conditions that are making this season a tricky one and while schedules have been relatively good compared to other years they are on a downwards spiral,” Vujcich said.