Livestock report: The ups and downs of Southland grass growth
The grass is lush and plentiful in Southland but that can bring both good and bad news, says PGG Wrightson’s livestock manager for the region, Andrew Martin.
Feed-wise things were looking great, Martin told The County’s Jamie Mackay.
“We’re probably as good as we’ve been for many a year.”
Even though Southland hadn’t had “the warmest start to the summer,” Martin said this ended up being a positive.
“It’s probably a bit cooler than normal, however, the feed levels on the back of that ... it’s pretty much green across the entire province.”
As a result, balers, and the “hay and silage guys” were “going flat out,” Martin said.
While feed wasn’t an issue at the moment, that didn’t mean the situation would stay that way, he warned.
“We all know things can change reasonably quickly.”
One problem with grass at this time of the year is it starts going to seed which makes pasture management a challenge.
For example, while ewes had come through weaning in good condition and had milked well - reflected in weights of around “18 to early 20 kilos” - there was a downside, Martin said.
“It has created a demand for stock. We’ve currently got farmers looking for all types of store-stock, yearling and 2-year-old cattle - store lambs in particular.
“Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot on the market and demand is currently outstripping supply quite comfortably.”
Martin said the “three-pronged attack” of runaway farm costs, higher interest rates, and reduced farm income had culminated in “one of those tough years” for the market.
“It doesn’t make for, a pleasant cocktail of ingredients for a successful season, unfortunately.”
However, there were still some positives out there, with space at the meat processing works looking “pretty good” and Martin said Southland farmers fattening up lambs were still able to take advantage of that impressive grass growth.
“Obviously with this grass we’ve got down here at the moment they’re going to try and get lambs to those optimal weights as best they can to get as many dollars in on the kill sheets.”
Martin said that, while this could also lead to an issue in the future, now was the time to focus on the upside of Southland’s grass growth.
“If we try and crystal ball gaze into the season it might create some space tightening around that February, March, April period but we’ll just have to wait and see if that eventuates.
“At this stage trying to maximize the grass and the weight would be the key, you know, one of the strategies to negate these more difficult times.”