Under Level 2 the more usual methods of sale, such as sale yards, will be available. Hybrid sale yards using online and in person methods will continue and the meat works will be able to make further increases in processing capacity to clear the backlog of stock.
Processing capacity Update 13 May 2020
While we appreciate that processing capacity has created on-going challenges in many regions, companies have continued to improve processing capacity as the companies bed in the new standards under the Alert Level 2 protocol. Most processing companies are now operating bovine processing at 85-90 percent capacity.
Companies are making good inroads into the backlog on the back of achieving processing efficiencies, adding extra shifts, overtime, weekend processing and transporting stock from the South Island to the North Island to free up capacity in the South. Even with these extra provisions in place farmers in the south are likely to be heading into winter carrying more cows than they would want, especially given the feed situation.
We continue to encourage farmers to keep in contact with their processors and stock agents to ensure they are clear on their individual situation and can plan accordingly.
We’ve heard from some farmers that the wait times they are hearing about from their livestock agents with regard to cull cows are not the same as the published figures from some meat processors. If this has happened to you please call 0800 4 DAIRYNZ and ask to speak to your regional animal care specialist so we can gather more detail from you and try to help. We have good relationships with many of the groups representing the supply chain which help us to support farmers where we can with these anomalies.
Cull Cows - What farmers can do
For those farmers likely to be affected by the challenge of stocking rates and feed availability, our advice is to act now. The following is a checklist to consider, collated from our resources and industry experts.
- Get an accurate tally of how many stock you wish to have processed, and by what date.
- Talk to your meat company representative to find out what’s changed. Identify the implications for you – how many animals delayed and for how long? Let them know your processing needs. Stay up to date with likely revised collection dates of cull stock by remaining in contact with your stock agent.
- Complete a feed budget from now until Spring, based on likely processing dates. Contact your local consulting officer for more information and assistance.
- Assess your current pasture covers
- What readily available supplements and crops do you have?
- What is your pasture growth going to be?
- What will the pasture growth response be to fertiliser N?(Consider moisture, temp and how quickly it can be applied.)
- What is your feed demand going to be?
- What is the additional demand with those extra months you will have to carry stock?
- What does that mean for your target pasture covers and target animal production targets?
- Update and revise feed budgets when required.
- If there’s a feed deficit, what are your options?
- Are there supplements that can brought in? Barley, Silage, Balage, PKE. (Consider price, availability, equipment, utilisation and labour required.
- Grazing out options. Consider performance arrangements.
- Other options for selling or destocking such as StockX, MyLiveStock, Bidr, AgOnline.
- Ensure you prepare stock well for transport as they may be going to a plant further away than you expect. Preparing stock well for transport ensures a comfortable and safe journey for cattle, reduces effluent on public roads, and ensures cattle arrive at their destination fit and healthy. Check out https://www.dairynz.co.nz/animal/transporting-stock/
- Look at the cashflow consequences and talk to your financial advisors and your financiers as early as possible.
- Keep an eye on yourself and your neighbours. Talk about the issues over the fence (with appropriate distancing), or on the phone, and don’t hesitate to reach out to other trusted advisors.
- If you want to talk to someone, confidentially, about your situation or the situation of someone you are concerned about, contact Rural Support Trust.
- Consider a 'virtual discussion group' – use tools like Skype or Zoom to have a discussion with other farmers. A problem shared is a problem halved.
- Ensure that you have good on-farm COVID-19 risk management processes which will ensure the safety of your own people and those essential services you work with. Recognise that given the current COVID-19 restrictions across the industry, things will take longer, so acting early is critical.
Transport of animals between properties, or between farm and slaughter plants can be arranged with your local stock carrier. Arrangements must allow for no direct contact between people. Talk to your transporter about the protocols they have in place for staff, owner and animals.