Finally, we have had some rain, not enough but a great start.

We were teased by forecasters and media the previous weekend, so it was good to the see the spider in the rain gauge needing to evacuate.

It had been a very dry start to 2019, in Turakina the driest two months for 30 years. It snuck up on us, after a fantastic late winter and spring, topped off with a 50mm present on Christmas Day. Great for growth, but our rainfall since September 1 to the end of February at 250mm was only half of our average.

The NIWA soil moisture graphs are a great tool and can help forewarn us of our moisture levels below the top two inches. With the moisture, we have the usual issues with fungi and worms to watch out for.

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Most of us rely on our anthelmintic drenches to protect our production through the high parasite challenge period of autumn. Without effective drenches, could we still finish lambs? What stocking rate could we carry? What would be the financial hit on our farms' profitability?

The issue is real, with many cases of triple drench resistance being identified. Startech and Zolvic are two new drench families, but they are likely to be the last we will ever have.

The failure of our drenches is the biggest threat to the productivity of sheep farming. There are strategies to manage drench resistance, but they rely on the farmer having the knowledge of how well their drenches are working.

A simple cheap egg count done by the vet clinic 10 days after drenching can identify if there is a potential drench failure to further investigate with a full drench test.

There is much publicity around drench resistance. Why do we choose to ignore what could have a huge impact on our farming systems?

We can't control the weather, there is much regulation coming that is going to be hard to influence, there is no excuse for farmers to ignore something that is inside the farm gate that we can manage and influence.

Talk to your drench seller, do a drench test and understand how this issue is and may impact on your business.


Mike Cranstone is president of Wanganui Federated Farmers