Looking after cows is the No1 priority during the drought, DairyNZ South Otago consulting officer Mark Olsen-Vetland says.

Offering farmers some words of wisdom at the drought meeting in Tapanui last week, Mr Olsen-Vetland told them they needed to look after their lighter cows.

''The more we can do now is the more going forward to get back to normal as soon as possible.''

Farmers needed to work out the shortfall of dry matter and make a plan now, he said.


Some advice he offered farmers was to use the supplementary feed now and let the grass grow.

''Grass grows grass,'' he said.

He asked farmers to look at their culls, and the known empties, and consider their individual situation and if it was worth keeping them or not.

''Get the information as early as you can. Make decisions as early as you can.''

There was also the option of a tactical dry-off, but there were a few other roads that could be taken before that, Mr Olsen-Vetland said.

Supplements were important to be used now, as the response was going to be best now rather than later.

''This is when your cows need it. The price has gone up a bit but this is when the cows need the feed.''

Once-a-day milking or 16-hour milking was another path farmers could take, he said.


''Don't do it so much to try and save feed, do it to better look after your cows.''

The key was making good decisions now, as there was still a bit of time, and it would make a big difference down the track, Mr Olsen-Vetland said.

''Know your situation. Make a plan.''