Otago and Southland farmers have welcomed a month of hot fine weather after so much rain and cold conditions earlier this summer.Southland Federated Farmer’s meat and wool section chairman Andrew Morrison, who farms in the Waikaka Valley, said his real concern was for farmers facing very dry conditions in the North Island.

“In Southland and South Otago where we farm, we’ve had good moisture over the holiday period and some good heat producing good grass. Stock is really enjoying the heat after so many days with rain on their backs,” he said.

While he was happy with lamb growth, Mr Morrison said because of the way the schedule had dropped, he had decided to carry lambs through to heavier weights for a better return.

“Once you’ve got lambs on the ground and the schedule is sitting where it is, the only other option you’ve got is to put weight on your animals,” he said.

At the moment at least farmers in Otago and Southland had enough grass to hold on to stock and were not forced to sell on a low schedule.

“With the schedule where it is, I really feel for those people who have to sell on the store market.”

Mr Morrison said he did not think anyone was happy with current prices, which were a reflection of three factors – the high New Zealand dollar, competition from Australia and markets still heavily impacted by the global recession.

He said unless meat companies could maintain a sustainable meat schedule, they would risk seriously reducing stock numbers next year and have less stock to process in future.

North Otago is another region counting its blessings for another excellent season, according to North Otago Federated Farmers’ president Richard Strowger.

“We’ve had three summers in a row where there’s been plenty of moisture, which is quite incredible really,” Mr Strowger said.

He said he understood some of the larger stations had held on-farm store lamb sales and fetched pretty reasonable prices.

“The majority of sheep farms in North Otago are probably going to be able to finish all their stock this year and wont have to sell stores at all,” he said.

Meanwhile, PGG Wrightson’s Otago livestock manager Chris Swale told Straight Furrow demand for store lambs in Otago remained strong because of the amount of feed available.

He said prices at on-farm store lamb sales ranged from $68 to $74 a head.

“For the last three weeks we’ve been selling on a grass market,” he said. Prices were more affordable for a wider range of buyers and some farmers were replacing stock that had already been processed.

“It’s not a great outlay for store stock this year at $50 to $70 a head as opposed to $90 to $120 last year,” Mr Swale said. “It’s bought the regular store lamb buyers back into the market this year.”

With the amount of feed around and breeding ewe fairs starting around the region last week, he said it was a good opportunity for farmers to cull older ewes and replace them with younger stock at heavily discounted prices compared to last season.

Source: Straight Furrow