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Out on the farm: Summer 23 - 24

Head of Sales and Marketing, Russell MacKay, has a fifth-generation family sheep and beef farm near Queenstown. Here's his farming update as we head into the summer months.

And just like that, it is summer. How the hell did that happen?  

All experts are still saying El Nino is going to sting the country, but for the time being, most farmers have got feed in front of them as we head into the normal drought months.

Two places which are notorious for drying up early, Canterbury and Hawkes Bay, are green and the feed budgets are healthy. Hawkes Bay farmers destocked due to forecasted drought and now they don't have the stock to take advantage of the feed, nor can they afford to buy in stores – Murphy’s Law I tell ya! Perhaps the meteorologists are right though and the feed reserve will be needed later.  

In Southland where I am farming, late spring was cooler than desirable; lambs needed some sun on the backs, while milking platforms required a bit more heat in the soil. The big yellow thing in the sky has since shown face and everything is now ticking along as it should.   
All in all, it has been a tough year for all agribusinesses in New Zealand. Increasing expenses and interest rates, dropping income, political uncertainty, and plenty of adverse weather – what a mongrel of a year, to put it frankly.  

Christmas and New Years is a great opportunity to do a bit of a reset, take a step back and look at what worked and what did not. Ask yourself: "Why am I farming? What do I love about it?". Better yet, try to ask these questions to yourself when you’re off farm, with the ones you love.