Congratulations to all rural farming families for continuing to keep our economy moving during the COVID-19 lockdown period. It has been a good reminder of the important role we play in feeding New Zealanders.
During my career in the livestock industry, I have never been involved in such events that have seen sale yards, stores and towns virtually closed.
One of the amazing aspects, and hopefully lessons learned, will be that, although farming practises continued as essential services during the lockdown period, the pollution/carbon levels worldwide diminished very quickly. It is often reported in NZ that farming is one of the main contributors to pollution/carbon levels, so perhaps this could be some food for thought?
Weather: Many areas are green, and grass is growing, but in contrast, there is a lack of feed in several districts mainly Northland, Hawke’s Bay and Northern South Island, where they are experiencing massive droughts.
The impact of COVID-19 requirements has slowed the processing numbers at meat processors, creating a three-week delay in sending cattle from the farms to cull. Consequently, the schedule values have dropped significantly, and farmers are not able to purchase store cattle as they are unable to destock. Store cattle values are currently very low, and sale yards remain closed.
Dairy Livestock Sales: Although the COVID-19 situation has made sales more difficult to achieve, Carrfields Livestock has achieved greater sale numbers compared to last year, with dairy herd values remaining at similar averages also. There have been comments that herd values are dropping considerably, but the same rules apply most years, with herds often left for sale in May achieving lower end values. Good herds that would have sold between $1,750 - $2,000 are now selling between $1,400 - $1,700. Lower quality herds are selling on the market between $1,100 - $1,350.
Farm sales: Still added value for the farmers who provided, impeccable index recording, sound breeding history and health practices. All these things are required by farmers to pay higher values.
Live Export: There has been continual enquiry all this year which has been extremely important to farmers’ cashflows and keeping values stronger. There are still good requirements for Friesian and Jersey heifers, so contact your Carrfields Livestock agent who will be able to assist.
On Farm Clearing sales: The current COVID-19 situation has created significant problems in this area. We had several sales scheduled for April that had to be cancelled or delayed and subsequently, there will be minimal auctions this autumn. We currently have five vendors that are on hold, but dates cannot be finalised at this point. Visit our website www.carrfieldslivestock.co.nz to view sales details.
Livestock conditions: Even though it has been very challenging for dairy cattle feed, the majority of herds are in acceptable condition and cattle overall look in good heart. Virtual selling or video auctions: Carrfields Livestock have recently partnered with AuctionsPlus, who are the largest online livestock auction facilitator in Australia. Please contact your Carrfields Livestock representative to find out more about this option.
Recent times have been very demanding on everyone. We would like to sincerely thank our clients for their loyalty, patience and support during this challenging time. Carrfields Livestock has been working hard to adopt new strategies and initiatives that have enabled us to continue to provide our farmers with their required livestock services.
Please note this content is the opinion of Trevor Hancock, Carrfields Livestock National Dairy Manager. It was current as at 4 May 2020, details are subject to change.