With the sheer grind from this year's wet winter behind us, spring is now turning into a busy summer and Christmas is approaching at break-neck speed. It has been a tumultuous year, full of challenges, change and surprises.
Too often we can feel discouraged and crushed by negative public perceptions and bad news stories. So before we plunge into the final few weeks of the year, it may be an opportune time to reflect and acknowledge some of the changes and future challenges this year has brought.
One of the most obvious challenges has been the long wet winter. Just juggling pasture growth and pugging, feed budgets, effluent management, stock condition, calving and/or lambing and setting up for mating has been a major achievement in these trying conditions for the majority of farmers, so take a deep breath and pat yourself on the back for getting through it all.
"Supplementary feed alternatives to palm kernel extract will require greater forward planning and management of ration transition. There is no one cookie-cutter solution across all farms; in the meantime maize silage is in demand."
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Will the summer ahead be hot and dry, leading to pasture and water shortages, or warm and wet, with facial eczema management at the fore? As we look towards the potential impacts of climate change, perhaps there are some tricks and tips from this season that could help in future.
Market drivers for some have also shifted direction this year. Whilst the price of wool is not recouping shearing costs, beef and lamb prices are looking healthy. Milk prices are fluctuating, and the new product quality parameters around the Fat Evaluation Index (FEI) may encourage systematic feed budget changes in the dairy industry.
Supplementary feed alternatives to palm kernel extract will require greater forward planning and management of ration transition. There is no one cookie-cutter solution across all farms; in the meantime maize silage is in demand.
The regulatory conditions we operate under are constantly shifting as we strive to produce our premium products in the most efficient and effective of ways. Central government changes, and a proposed new regional plan, will dictate where we focus our efforts.
But New Zealand farmers are the masters of change. We are adaptable and innovative, mostly running family-owned businesses, who take our role as guardians and caretakers of the land (and water, animals, etc) seriously. And we have been adapting to changes and challenges continuously for some time now.
So with Christmas and school holidays approaching fast, I hope you set aside time to reflect on how far you've come in your farming career, the joys, the hard-won lessons from the challenges, and have pride in the healthy, safe products we grow. Plan now to take time to rest, recharge and meet the new year with energy and enthusiasm.