Canterbury farmers, with the support of local contractors, cartage operators, and KiwiRail, donated and delivered about 2000 big bales of feed to their drought-stretched counterparts in Hawke’s Bay over the past couple of months.
“Besides the farmers who donated the feed, the other champions have been the local transports and contractors who carted and re-wrapped the bales. They’ve all just been bloody amazing,” farmer and Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) director Nicky Hyslop told Country-Wide.
Hyslop got the ball rolling in South Canterbury with farms across the region donating anything from a few bales to whole unit loads, mostly of balage. Local cartage and contractor companies mustered and re-wrapped the feed at three depots – Waimate Showgrounds, Temuka Saleyards, and Fairlie Showgrounds – before Toll carted it to a rail siding for KiwiRail to haul north.
Meanwhile in Mid Canterbury, dairy farmers Ben and Mary-Anne Stock put the word out in that region and ended up with about 1100 bales donated, roughly half balage and half ryegrass straw, which was consolidated at Quigley Contracting’s yard in Ashburton before transferring to trains.
Bell Gunson of East Coast Rural Support Trust has been administering distribution as the feed arrives in Hawke’s Bay.
“We’re incredibly grateful for every bale, whatever it might be: round, square, balage or straw, wrapped or not,” she told Country-Wide.
Hundreds of farms had received allocations, with recipients “triaged” based on declarations made to the B+LNZ 0800 hotline or reports of probable animal or social welfare issues to the Rural Support Trust.
“We’re being as fair as we possibly can be,” Gunson said.
Hyslop said a reminder of how Hawke’s Bay farmers had helped South Canterbury in its big snow of 1992, including her parents on Clayton Station, prompted her to see what they could do now to return the favour.
“I thought: ‘we’ve had an okay season, surely there’s something we can do?’ But I’m just the one that picked up the phone: it’s been an absolute team effort.”
Gunson noted the South Island donations follow similarly generous help from some North Island regions earlier in the autumn.
“We’re still getting some trucks coming from the Wairarapa but I wouldn’t expect much more North Island feed because the drought’s been so widespread.”
Recent rains had turned the grey-brown landscape green but feed would remain desperately short until spring growth really kicked in, she added.