Dealing with drought conditions
Find out what to do during drought conditions and the help available to farmers, growers, and their families.
Every year, there is potential for dry conditions along the east coast of the country. This may lead to shortages of feed in some regions. Ongoing feed planning and budgeting is essential.
Feed planning support [PDF, 1.1 MB]
Case studies on managing sheep and beef farms through drought
- Winterhome – Kekerengu, Marlborough [PDF, 1.6 MB]
- Ridgecliff – Banks Peninsula, Canterbury [PDF, 2.4 MB]
- The Homestead – Ward Beach, Marlborough [PDF, 3.5 MB]
- Attadale – Middlemarch, Otago [PDF, 1.1 MB]
Support is available if you need help sourcing supplementary feed or grazing for your livestock.
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is funding DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, Federated Farmers, and other specialist providers to offer feed planning and coordination services up until 31 January 2022.
These services were set up in April 2020 during a severe drought when farmers had few options to access supplementary feed.
Use the Feed Coordination Service
The Feed Coordination Service helps connect farmers with surplus feed – such as hay, silage, or grazing – to farmers who need it. Use these online Feed Coordination Service forms to get or offer feed or grazing:
Need feed now? Call 0800 FARMING or 0800 32 76 46 and follow the voice prompts.
Get help with feed planning
The free Feed Planning Service connects farmers with an industry expert to get feed planning assistance. Having a feed budget can help you:
- calculate your feed demand
- calculate your feed supply
- investigate options to fill feed gaps
- proactively make decisions.
Getting a plan in place can help give you peace of mind. The service can help you do a snapshot feed plan in 20 minutes.
- For drystock farmers, freephone Beef + Lamb NZ on 0800 BEEFLAMB (0800 23 33 52)
- For dairy farmers, freephone DairyNZ on 0800 4 DairyNZ (0800 43 24 79 69)
Order alternative feed
If you believe you need supplementary feed, place an order with a feed merchant as soon as possible. This includes for grain from the South Island.
Some imported feeds – for example, PKE – can take 10 to 12 weeks to arrive after ordering so you need to bear this in mind when ordering. Suppliers may be able to advise on a range or mix of products to ensure your stock receive the best possible nutrition in these difficult times.
Your local trust can provide support and advice. It's free to use a Rural Support Trust. Talking to them is confidential. They can connect you with the services you need, whether it's financial and business advice or health services.
Freephone 0800 78 72 54 (0800 RURAL HELP).
Industry associations like Beef + Lamb New Zealand or DairyNZ can provide technical advice. Their websites have information on planning your feed budget and managing an animal's condition.
Talk to your bank and accountant early, and talk to them regularly.
Inland Revenue can answer questions relating to taxes, including access to variations to the Income Equalisation Scheme.
Work and Income can tell you about emergency benefits, special needs grants, or rural assistance payments.
Lifestyle and small block owners: Coping with drought [PDF, 1.9 MB]
Advice about on-farm emergency euthanasia [PDF, 3.7 MB]
Hawkes Bay Drought Recovery Plan (October 2021) [PDF, 13.8 MB]
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) commissioned the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) to draft a report on the socio-economic impacts of the 2019/2020 drought. You can read the full report here:
Economic impacts of the 2019 drought [PDF, 3.3 MB]
Who to contact
If you have questions about droughts or support for farmers, email firstname.lastname@example.org