Sheep ‘art’ photo spells out NZ farmer’s feelings over drought

Sheep flock spelling the word bugger

© Mike Bowler

A New Zealand farmer has used his sheep to spell out exactly how he feels about the ongoing drought in his region.

North Canterbury farmer Mike Bowler has to feed his sheep daily and spells out a different word or name on the hillside of his paddock on his Parnassus farm.

Mr Bowler told Farmers Weekly his novel “sheep art” helped to relieve the monotony and stress of feeding out every day. He also liked to get the positive feedback and smiles from those who drove past on the road.

See also: Californian farmers face fourth year of devastating drought

“We have been feeding out barley to our ewes since the middle of January, because of the drought, which has been going on since December and is forecast to go on to next December,” he said.

“We have 500 ewe hoggets out grazing since the beginning of January, by the time we get them back after the winter, it will cost $65 a head [£30 a head].

“We have fed 150t of barley out so far and extra hay and balage (silage) we have to buy it in as well. We are looking at a bill of about $130,000 [£61,000] which is a huge impact on a 3,300 stock unit property.”

“It is not a great time for farmers in North Canterbury, most of us are facing a year of little to no feed, low stocking rates and substantial financial losses.”
Dan Hodgen, Federated Farmers of New Zealand

According to the Federated Farmers of New Zealand conditions in North Canterbury are getting increasingly tough which means many farmers will be struggling with some tough decisions.

“It is not a great time for farmers in North Canterbury, most of us are facing a year of little to no feed, low stocking rates and substantial financial losses,” said Dan Hodgen, Federated Farmers meat and fibre chairman.

“With the drought leaving us with a significant lack of grass and crop growth, we are either having to sell capital stock at a much lower rate than we usually would or having to buy in supplementary feed. Some farmers are doing both.”

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