The worsening situation facing drought-stricken Hawkes Bay farmers this Autumn seems to be getting lost amidst the media hype around COVID-19. We are seeing increasing evidence of severe feed shortages for many going into Winter, made worse by the reduced capacity for meat processors to take excess stock. The staff at VetsOne would like to acknowledge how stressful this is for our rural clients who we know are doing there absolute best to ensure the welfare of their stock going forward.


Actions points for now if you haven’t already done them:

  • Do a realistic feed budget for the next 6 months
  • Identify feed deficits & source additional feed
  • Identify stock which can be sold/sent for processing
  • Talk to your stock agents and/or meat processors about processing availability
  • Weigh up whether money in the hand now is better than the unknowns of carrying stock through – there is always next season!

Listed below are a number of resources you can access for drought information, advice & support:

1. The East Coast Rural Support Trust has a phone line you can ring 0800 787 254

2. Beef+Lamb update:

3. Hawkes Bay Regional Council:

4. HB Farmkill Meeanee (Brett 06 8422698) Happy to do emergency slaughter on farm processed at plant in Meeanee, Only for farmers own use ie not licensed to sell meat, Even If slaughtering for pet food – farmer needs to take the lot back. Charge for offal disposal. Slaughter/ travel/ butchery/ offal disposal about $600+GST more if large distance  ie $700- $900 all up

5. Apley Homekill (Jack Ellis, 470 Apley Road Puketapu, 068395755, 0274434525) Has a purpose built plant at Apley road – Homekill needs to be transported to plant, prefer Stephensens transport. Emergency slaughter on farm – will slaughter on farm and take back to plant. Must have front end loader/ digger to lift cattle carcass onto trailer. Can take meat if required as a contra for slaughter/ disposal.

6. A Regional Feed Coordinator has been set up and can be accessed in several ways (i) Ring the Rural Support Trust  0800 787 254 (ii) Ring Beef & Lamb NZ feed line 0800 23 33 52 (iii) Email the feed coordinator at drought& . The role of this Coordinator is to act as a central point for listing available feed supplies and distribute them to farms where they are needed most. They will want to view a farm feed plan as part of this service.

7. Financial support is now available through the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) – the contact person for this is Cheryl Nicholls –

8. Farmers can also apply for the Business Wage Subsidy as per other New Zealand businesses where they can show a 30% drop in income compared to previous years. This can be justified under the COVID banner rather than simply drought, due to saleyards being shut down, the reduced capacity of processing plants and export shutdowns. Follow the following link for further information and to apply :

Hopefully you can find something amongst this which is useful. I will continue to update this page with other useful links as they become available. Our Farm & Equine veterinarians are always available by phone if you need any further advice or an ear to listen 🙂

Regards, Jason & the VetsOne team