The reality of the East Coast drought continued to be felt on Tuesday when a huge yarding of cattle went under the hammer at Matawhero Saleyards.
Farmers are still unloading stock and 3500 animals in good condition went on sale in front of a big bench of buyers and a crowd of more than 100.
With plenty of grass in the west and northern parts of the island, there was still strong demand for cattle and prices on Tuesday were right up to the best at major centres, with some allowances for freight differences, said farming commentator Barrie Gordon.
Gisborne-based vet Dr John Meban said the recent rain had not been enough to rescue the situation for some farmers who had to plan ahead.
"De-stocking is a hard decision to make, but should be done sooner rather than later," he said.
Because the impact of poor nutrition crept up gradually, farmers might not realise how undernourished their animals had become.
Underfed stock were vulnerable to many problems and farmers should weigh their animals and physically condition-score them, he said.
With lambing and calving ahead, farmers should assess their feed situation and plan ahead for the last third of pregnancy, when there is the greatest demand for feed.