The Money Maker - Simmental 2024

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THE MONEY MAKER

THE NEW GENERATION

Increase productivity & boost your bottom line

THE HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION

Pound for pound Simmentals are unbeatable

EARLIER FINISHING

First-cross Simmentals gain weight rapidly and finish heavier than other breeds

2024
IMMENTALNZ

HEAVIER AND EARLIER FINISHING

MORE CALVES

SIMMENTAL BULLS ARE RENOWNED FOR THEIR EARLY PUBERTY, HIGH LIBIDO AND ABILITY TO HANDLE A HIGH MATING LOAD.

SIMMENTAL CROSS CATTLE ARE HIGHLY SOUGHT AFTER AS FOUR-DAY-OLD CALVES, WEANER CALVES, STORE CATTLE AND AT SLAUGHTER.

simmental.co.nz
MARKET FLEXIBILITY HIGHER CARCASS YIELDS IMMENTALNZ

CONGRATULATIONS TO

1974 TO 2024

50 YEARS AND STILL BREEDING SIMMENTAL CATTLE

IMPORTED HORNED PUREBRED COWS

WOOLSTON FASON (UK)

GLEN ANTONY EXCEL “ZUNDA”

DIRECT IMPORTATION FROM GERMANY

The oldest Simmental Stud in NZ to still hold an ANNUAL 2yr old BULL SALE

FEATURING POLLED BULLS BY ST JOHN GATTON

We hope to hold a 50th Jubilee afternoon tea on the 14th June. All clients of Glen Anthony past and present plus all Simmental Breeders past and present are cordially invited!

Please contact Tony by phone or text at 027 280 6148 or by email at glenanthony1@yahoo.co.nz

4 Simmental NZ
14TH JUNE 2024
2024- 36 TH BULL SALE ON FARM GLEN ANTHONY
GLEN ANTHONY (AL14) LIMITED EDITION ST JOHN GATTON IMPORTED
SEMEN
POLLED
50
simmental.co.nz 5 CONTENTS THE MONEY MAKER 2024 WHY SIMMENTAL 10 The History of Simmentals in New Zealand Simmental cattle first arrived in New Zealand in the early 1970s; their hybrid vigour continues to remain a big attraction for farmers across the country. 12 An Eye on the Future
late
Absolom is
a
Zealand
next generation are taking it. 17 High Performing Values Tony Thompson of Glen Anthony is rightfully proud of what he has achieved in 50 years of breeding Simmentals. Discover how he has used his own judgement and experience to breed some of the best. TECHNOLOGY & ADVANCEMENTS 21 Simmental Surge in Demand Imminent Demand is rising for sires that produce faster finishing cattle and heavier carcass weights. 23 The Ideal Choice for Angus Herds Black-coated Simmental bulls are tipped to become more mainstream as the surge in Angus cow numbers continues. 24 Collaborative Data for the Common Good Simmental NZ and International Genetic Solutions are collaborating to achieve improved data and predications. ONFARM 27 A Labour of Love Far North farmer Lance Oliver has taken a little over five years to confirm his preference for Simmental. 35 A Strong Reputation With finishers lining up at the door to take their calves, a bold decision to move to Simmentals continues to pay dividends in South Canterbury.
A Better Cash Flow Temperament, conformation and EBVs are drivers for these Simmental farmers in Wairoa, who measure success on being happy in their work. EVERY ISSUE 7 Welcome Note 8 Sale Calendar 9 Breeder Directory 50 From the Archives 36 17 10
The
John
widely regarded as
pioneer of the New
cattle industry, in particular the Simmental breed. Explore the beginnings of the Rissington Stud and where the
42

SAME BUT DIFFERENT

For almost 40 years we’ve been breeding and selling top-line Simmental terminal sires, turbocharging British-breed herds with faster and greater growth.

10 years ago we added another kind of Simmental to the fold: Simmental Black.

Hailing from the US, these Black Simmentals calve extra easy, grow extra fast and produce a quality carcass earlier, with more ribeye and marbling than traditional Simmentals which helps capture those quality premiums.

Their smaller mature size makes them an ideal maternal partner for Angus. B+LNZ Genetics think so too because they’ve got four in their latest Beef Progeny Test.

This sale season is your chance to secure one of our very special Simmental Blacks (limited numbers available!) alongside our reliable and reputable Reds.

Traditional Terminals or Maternal Blacks. All polled. All quiet. All ready to go. Get them before they’re gone. See you at the sale.

2024 BULL SALE GET IN TOUCH

Garry & Julene McCorkindale

027

242 6735

glenside@rivernet.co.nz

www.glenside.co.nz

Thursday 23rd May

Starting at 2pm

1842 Manuka Gorge Highway

Waitahuna, Otago

6 Simmental NZ GLENSIDE SIMMENTALS

HELLO

Welcome to Simmental NZ Society’s 50th Anniversary publication, only slightly delayed from 2021 until now in 2024. None of us expected the world to change as markedly as it did in New Zealand in March 2020. Our son’s 21st birthday was one of the first gatherings prohibited by Lockdown and our country entered a new ‘normal’ which we are still feeling some of the effects from now, in mid-2024.

From plans for celebratory events came the more sober vision of a Simmental magazine, which celebrates the past while looking forward to the future. I hope that within these pages any beef farmer might find some nugget of inspiration or wisdom to take home and expand on.

Simmental was the second European breed to be introduced to New Zealand, and very quickly became the most populous behind Angus and Hereford. Honestly, Simmental NZ realised if our cattle were to gain acceptance as a breeding option, we needed to address that big elephant of docility in the room. And while it has taken a few more years than we would have liked, Simmental NZ can now say most of our stud breeders record a docility measurement and those who don’t generally cull hardest on temperament. We are the first breed society in New Zealand to record docility scores and produce an EBV for the same.

“Simmental NZ can now say most of our stud breeders record a docility measurement and those who don’t generally cull hardest on temperament.”

Simmental is the breed which gives options to forward-thinking commercial bull buyers wanting to access hybrid vigour in all parts of the country. A look through the Breeders Directory (page 9) will find Simmental from the far North to the deep South and all points in between.

In this, our 50th celebration magazine, I thank the breeders then and now, and hope the beef breeders of the future recognise what a valuable resource Simmental cattle are to our national herd now and in the future.

Tracey Neal Simmental NZ President potawa488@gmail.com

IMMENTALNZ

simmental.co.nz 7 Managing Editor Lucinda Diack Sub-editor Belinda O’Keefe Art Director Klaudia Krupa Contributors Annie Studholme Jackie Atkins Louise Savage Malcolm Pullman Tony Leggett Advertising Simmental NZ simmentalnz@pbbnz.com Printer Blue Star, Petone
Publisher The Money Maker 2024 magazine is published by CountryWide Media on behalf of Simmental NZ Cover Image Annie Studholme

SIMMENTAL SALES 2024

AUTUMN AUCTIONS

PADDOCK SALES

Hampton Downs Simmentals Te Kauwhata

Waikite Simmentals Rotorua

Brooklands Simmentals Dannevirke

Kaingaroa Simmentals Kaitaia

Overland Simmentals Waimate

Caniwi Simmentals Waimamaku

Peplow Simmentals Shannon

Owhata Simmentals Kaitaia

SPRING SALES

Cornwall Park Simmentals Auckland

Lowridge Simmentals Hunterville

Blackbridge Simmentals Kaikohe

Rissington Simmentals Napier

8 Simmental NZ
16 May 2024 Ruaview Simmentals Onfarm Ohakune 17 May 2024 Opawa Simmentals Onfarm Albury 20 May 2024 Gold Creek Simmentals Onfarm Matawai 21 May 2024 Kerrah Simmentals Onfarm Wairoa 22 May 2024 Leafland Simmentals Onfarm Mosgiel 22 May 2024 Beresford Simmentals Onfarm Owaka 23 May 2024 Hill Valley Simmentals Onfarm Roxburgh 23 May 2024 Glenside Simmentals Onfarm Waitahuna 27 May 2024 Potawa Simmeantals Onfarm Piopio 5 June 2024 Beefit Simmentals Kaikohe Saleyards Kaikohe 14 June 2024 Glen Anthony Simmentals Onfarm Waipukurau
Photo Annie Studholme
simmental.co.nz 9 BREEDER NAME ADDRESS TOWN POSTCODE PHONE NORTHLAND BEEF IT A & B Gubb 95 Mudgeway Road, RD 2 Okaihau 0476 021 590 915 BLACKBRIDGE V & S Vujcich 6948 State Highway 1, RD 2 Kaikohe 0472 0274 968 706 BLUE WATER A Pedersen 942A Oneriri Road, RD 2 Kaiwaka 0573 021 761 957 CANIWI AJ Parlane PO Box 13 Waimamaku 0446 021 079 3816 KAINGAROA S Vinac 342 Pekerau Road, RD 3 Kaitaia 0483 021 0279 8580 MT TURIWIRI A Chapman & J Schimanski 6528 State Highway 12, RD 4 Dargaville 0374 021 139 7195 OAKDALE SD Trotter 143 Otaenga Road, RD 1 Kaikohe 0474 021 141 9556 OWHATA J & S Hammond 155 Owhata Road, RD 1 Kaitaia 0481 027 240 7705 STOUPE A & S Capstick 45 Hay Road, RD 2 Hikurangi 0182 021 464 820 WILLOWCREEK K & B Woolley 557 State Highway 1, RD 5 Wellsford 0975 09 431 4893 SOUTH AUCKLAND BLACK SHED C & C Kaelin 400 Arapuni Road, RD 2 Te Awamutu 3872 0274 955 260 CORNWALL PARK P Maxwell PO Box 26072, Epsom Auckland 1344 021 686 778 GILEAD SD Chesswas 472 Luck At Last Road, RD 2 Cambridge 3494 027 924 7593 HAMPTON DOWNS NJ Entwisle 347 Hampton Downs Road, RD 2 Te Kauwhata 3782 022 697 5002 MATATOKI R & J Boersen 142B Matatoki Road, RD 1 Thames 3578 027 682 9864 POTAWA A & T Neal 488 Mangaotaki Road, RD 1 Piopio 3971 027 366 5514 WAIKITE D Elliott PO Box 12075, Ahuriri Napier 4144 021 222 7324 TARANAKI HIGHPEAK JK & LJO Howe 845 Uruti Road, RD 48 Urenui 4378 027 817 0264 KURAWAI J & T Pullen 21 Hadfield Street Patea 4520 06 273 8448 CENTRAL DISTRICTS HILLBRAE BG Gledhill 278 Scotts Road, RD 2 Palmerston North 4472 021 519 190 LOWRIDGE K Farrell 2 Rowes Road, RD 5 Hunterville 4785 027 390 6178 MATAI JRC & DA Gloyn 141 Banks Road, RD 3 Palmerston North 4473 0274 841 719 PEPLOW M Malmo 217 Kingston Road, RD 4 Palmerston North 4474 027 608 5800 RUAVIEW JD & HD Hammond 801 Raetihi Ohakune Road, RD 1 Ohakune 4691 0274 314 992 RUSHBROOK C Pilet 607 Makirikiri Road, RD 3 Marton 4789 027 924 6802 HAWKES BAY BROOKLANDS C & C Hutching 329 Rakaiatai Road, RD 7 Dannevirke 4977 06 374 1802 GLEN ANTHONY AH Thompson 825 Farm Road, RD 4 Waipukurau 4284 027 280 6148 GOLD CREEK TW Sanson 4557 Matawai Road, RD 2 Te Karaka 4092 027 248 9098 HILLVIEW K & L Humphreys 20 Goodeve Road, RD 7 Dannevirke 4977 021 063 2774 KERRAH J Knauf 1447 Hereheretau Road, RD 6 Wairoa 4196 06 838 6793 LYNMAR KJ & LM Nankervis 165 Lower Flag Range Road, RD 9 Hastings 4179 027 600 5840 RISSINGTON D Absolom 55 Soldiers Settlement Road, RD 4 Napier 4184 021 989 067 NELSON/MARLBOROUGH/CANTERBURY DRY CREEK A & S Perkin 2152 Lake Brunner Road, RD 1 Kumara 7875 027 257 6883 JANEFIELD R & S Deacon 21 Browns Road, RD 3 Rangiora 7473 03 312 8443 OPAWA D & J Timperley 76 Wilfred Road, RD 14 Cave 7984 0274 375 881 OVERLAND S & L McRae 1062 Clarkesfield Road, RD 1 Waimate 7977 03 689 2832 SOUTHERN DISTRICTS BERESFORD WT Burgess 361 Puketiro Road, RD 2 Owaka 9586 027 408 4903 DRAGONFLY R & M Paterson 13 Remarkables Crescent, Frankton Queenstown 9300 027 227 8056 GLENSIDE GI McCorkindale 52 Johnston Road, RD 3 Lawrence 9593 027 242 6735 HILL VALLEY J Hill 77 Loop Road, RD 2 Roxburgh 9572 027 714 0160 JABULANI MS Pellett 178 Smaills Road, RD 5 Gore 9775 027 657 3268 LEAFLAND E & M Strauss 235 Waironga Road, RD 2 Mosgiel 9092 027 248 5024 TARA HILL EJ Conlan 943 Waikaka Valley Highway, RD 5 Gore 9775 027 222 1927 BREEDER DIRECTORY

HYBRID VIGOUR

STILL THE BIG ATTRACTION

Simmental cattle first arrived in New Zealand in the early 1970s in a wave of European breed imports intended to inject new life into beef production.

10 Simmental NZ HISTORY

Seven Simmental bulls were among consignments of four exotic breeds in the first shipment which arrived in Wellington Harbour in April 1972. The bulls spent their first 30 weeks in quarantine on Somes Island before being released for evaluation on several government-owned research properties.

For their journey from the ship to Somes Island they were enclosed in individual crates swung beneath an Air Force Iroquois helicopter, dubbed ‘Operation Bull-ship’, to minimise any biosecurity risks from importing live cattle.

“As a breed society, we were the first to introduce an estimated breeding value (EBV) for docility and to measure docility in our heifers.”

The bulls were selected in France the previous year by highly respected Ruakura geneticist Dr Alan Carter, who said at the time the bulls were released that he was interested in the growth rate and carcass quality of the steer progeny, but also in the performance of the crossbred female progeny as hill country beef cows.

The other breeds in the original shipment were Blonde d’Aquitaine, Limousin, and Maine-Anjou, but none of them have gained the foothold of the Simmental breed in New Zealand.

Small consignments of purebred heifers were imported in the following years along with semen from several countries.

One of the first purebred heifer consignments imported was a group of 24 from Germany, again organised by the government which selected half for its Lands & Survey farms and offered the other half to breeders through a ballot system. Those lucky in the ballot made their selections while the cattle were completing quarantine on Somes Island in Wellington Harbour.

Not surprisingly, there was enormous demand for any purebred Simmental or Simmental cross cattle in those early days, and prices reflected it. Commercial cattlemen also began to discover hybrid vigour and Simmental bulls were increasingly being used in crossbreeding programmes over the mostly British breeds throughout the country.

At one stage, the New Zealand Simmental Cattle Breeders Society (Simmental NZ) boasted more than 1,000 members, including a future Minister of Agriculture, Jim Sutton. Adding to the membership in the early days were many Australian breeders who joined when New Zealand became the route for imports of live cattle and semen to Australia.

Just over 50 years later, there are now 45 registered studs active on the herd book and the Simmental breed is the third ranked breed for registered stud females in the country.

Current Simmental NZ President Tracey Neal says the opportunity for crossbreeding with the large British breed cow base here in New Zealand remains a major attraction for Simmentals as it was in the seventies. “Heterosis was in play and it was a free lunch for many breeders who used Simmental bulls over their British breed cows. The progeny were exceptional and Simmentalsired weaners are often still among the top-priced pens of calves sold at weaner fairs right across the country.”

Tracey says the terminal sire bull market remains the primary outlet for Simmental bull breeders, but many are now targeting the dairy bull market and Simmentals are prominent in the rankings within Beef + Lamb NZ’s Dairy Beef Progeny Test.

It hasn’t all been plain sailing for the breed in New Zealand. It took 15 years and heavy culling to overcome the stigma of Simmentals being renowned as a stroppy breed. “As a breed society, we were the first to introduce an estimated breeding value (EBV) for docility and to measure docility in our heifers at both weaner and rising two-year-old stage, so we could cull poorly ranked cattle from our herds,” she says.

At an individual stud level, just two studs, both in Hawke’s Bay, have reached the milestone of 50 years of breeding Simmental cattle. The Absolom family’s Rissington stud at Rissington notched up five decades in 2021 and Tony Thompson joined Simmental NZ in 1971 but registered his Glen Anthony stud in 1973, initially at Matamata then Waipukurau.

simmental.co.nz 11 HISTORY
Photo Brad Hanson

JOHN ABSOLOM, RISSINGTON STUD

The late John Absolom is widely regarded as a pioneer in the development of the New Zealand cattle industry and particularly the Simmental breed. His association with Simmental started in 1971 when he and wife Star visited the United States and Canada, combining studying the local cattle industry with enjoying the hospitality of friends and relations.

Massey University Animal Scientist

Bob Barton had given them several great contacts to visit on their trip, and one of the first stops on their list was to Davis University in California where they were given a presentation from Professor Caldwell on the results from a lengthy trial comparing all the European breeds. The breeds in the trials were the Maine-Anjou, Gelbvieh,

Blonde d’Aquitaine, Limousin, Simmental and Charolais. Sires from these breeds had been crossed over Hereford and Angus cows for further analysis of their progeny.

Professor Caldwell provided some advice which the Absoloms adopted. He told them to do their homework first before setting up a stud and to concentrate on one breed, and to go for large numbers to enable greater selection pressure.

A visit to the University of Guelph and many AI studs where most of the bulls were Simmental confirmed to them Simmental was the breed to go with, even though the Maine-Anjou appeared to be winning out on the growth rate trials. After returning home they were delighted to find the New Zealand Government had allowed

the importation of Simmental semen (no Maine-Anjou was available), so it was the obvious choice.

The option of grading up from a base of commercial cows rather than importing their own purebred or fullblood stock was a simple one. At $10 per straw for the semen and another $10 per insemination, it stacked up well against a $20,000 purebred animal – if you could find one – with no background data on any of them.

Embryo transplanting was being used elsewhere with mixed results on many of the imported purebred heifers. The top-priced purebred heifer (sold at an early sale for $48,000) never conceived.

At $10–$15 per straw with nothing other than a pretty picture

12 Simmental NZ HISTORY
ABOVE Stud sire LBJ Jade with John Absolom on the halter at one of his many show outings.

to help with selection of the sire, the Absoloms decided to take a different route to establish their stud. A small group of Angus cows were inseminated to Swiss Simmental bulls late in the season, resulting in 20 F1 calves in 1972.

Mindful of earlier advice about getting numbers up quickly, John bought half-bred heifers from various sources, always targeting mating 100 half-bred heifers in 1973.

During a visit to their financiers, stock firm Williams & Kettle, he organised a $20,000 loan to purchase these heifers under the condition they would have bulls to sell. No written conditions were required, but John Nott (a former Ministry of Agriculture consultant) who was Williams & Kettle’s newly appointed finance controller, managed to convince the company’s Chief Executive Philip Giblin that he had a good case.

Two years later the pin was pulled on the loan, but instead of repaying the money by selling off heifers, John cut his farm operating costs by not replacing one labour unit, and shearing his own ewes among other savings. Deferring of fertiliser application for a year was an added saving, regretted in hindsight.

However, the Rissington Simmental herd remained intact with the 100 halfbred heifers calving down in 1974. Lots of lessons were learned which stood the stud in good stead from its early days. Among them were:

• Sire selection – unfortunately restricted to bulls with little data and glossy photos.

• Artificial insemination – success demands good nutrition, animal health, heat detection and semen quality.

• Measure the important economic traits – calving ease, birth weight, gestation length, weaning weight.

• Cull any heifers needing assistance at calving, and their progeny.

• Cull any stock with poor temperament or structure.

The first registered calves under the Rissington prefix were born in 1972. With an eye on costs over the following decade, the herd developed on good commercial practices with all males being steered, heifers given a chance to get in calf and all dries culled.

The only purebred heifer purchased by Rissington was a French heifer called Comete which was one of the 24 heifers imported into New Zealand by the government in 1974. Half were kept by the government and the other half were sold to farmers in a private ballot.

Together with good friends Robin Lowry and Brian Pattullo, the Absoloms entered the ballot on the understanding that if one was successful, they would all share equally in that heifer. John drew one and PABLO Genetics was formed by the trio.

The selection on Somes Island in Wellington Harbour was memorable. Their pick was supposed to be number five but only two had been picked when their turn came. The trip back to Rissington with Comete in Chris Sheratt’s horse float was uneventful and seeing her released on to a grassy paddock was superb after nearly 12 months in quarantine.

more than 100 calves being born by him in one year.

In 1978, the first year Simmental were allowed to be shown by the breed association, he was taken to the Hawke’s Bay Royal Show at Hastings where he was awarded the Supreme Award for his breed and achieved a second place in the Meat & Wool Cup behind a three-year-old Angus heifer that had never had a calf but was reputed to be in calf. The joys of showing!

With Simmental cross heifers selling well, the Absoloms relied on nature rather than weight to tell them which ones to mate. Provided the heifers cycled (teaser bulls with chain harnesses were used) they were mated. Some were as light as 250 kg.

The other main learning was the benefit of hybrid vigour. Compared to the seven-eighth and purebred cattle, the half-breds were more fertile and held their condition well in adverse conditions. The purebreds had superior weight gain and mature weight, but their longevity and the percentage of calf weight weaned per cow mated was less than the firstcross females.

Mindful of earlier advice about getting numbers up quickly, John bought half-bred heifers from various sources, always targeting mating 100 halfbred heifers in 1973.

Comete was flushed a couple of times with ordinary results. Rissington Extra was her first son and he was hand-mated to 20 cows when just 10 months of age while still on his Jersey recipient mother at the time. His enthusiasm for the job meant with all four feet off the ground he was able to successfully serve each cow. His dilemma on returning to his mother of whether to mount her or drink off her was the cause of much hilarity to onlookers. Rissington Extra went on to be used extensively with

Artificial insemination was widely used in the stud with more than 300 cows being mated. The most notable bulls used were the Scottish Milk Marketing Board Bulls – Scottish Herod, Marquis, Hope, Neptune and Neff, plus the English Milk Marketing Board bulls – MMB Langle, Rebholz and Thierauch.

New Zealand sires Tattenhall Amendment and Balig Agent, both sons of Scottish Neff, were both used extensively. Balig Agent sired the impressive bull LBJ Jade.

simmental.co.nz 13 HISTORY

Salz and Siegfried were two Austrian bulls used in the eighties that came with meaningful performance data.

Calving problems in the early years were all too common along with the vet callouts, so the Absoloms were ruthless in their culling and also placed heavy emphasis on calving ease for all their females.

In 1980, they started looking for another bull to follow on from the great work Rissington Extra had achieved. This led to the purchase of LBJ Jade from John Robins at the Temuka sale in 1982 for $6,500, the top price paid for a Simmental that year but an investment John later admitted was probably the best he made.

quite a stir. Rissington went on to win the coveted trophy five times in a row – three with Jade and two with Monitor – a feat never repeated since. Gisborne farmers purchased 20–30 bulls each year for the following 20 years, reflecting the showing success of LBJ Jade and his progeny.

Jade’s semen rights for Australia were bought by Jim Mahoney, Tusmore Simmental, South Australia, and Wes Arnold from South Dakota purchased the United States rights for $20,000. A visit to the US a decade later to see the Jade females where they were the pride of the Arnolds’ herd was one of the highlights of John and Star’s cattle-breeding years.

Staying focused on profitability for their clients is always a balance between the fresh thinking which comes from the younger generation and wisdom and experience of the current and past generations.

Jade almost single-handedly put both the breed and Rissington “on the map” with six Meat & Wool Cup wins at Hawke’s Bay, Gisborne and one at the Royal Show in Palmerston North. His first win was at Gisborne, the home of the traditional breeds, which caused

With more than 1,000 recorded progeny in New Zealand, Australia and the USA, plus $1 million worth of progeny and semen sales, Jade was certainly a superb investment.

In 1980 their first seven-eighth bulls were sold to good mate and Gisborne

farmer Gerald Kemp at $500 each, equal to $100 more than works price.

In 1981 they sold 12 bulls, then double that number the following year. When Gerald’s first line of 18-month steers averaged 325 kg carcass weight, word travelled fast around the region and independent stock agent Eric Gordon arrived at Rissington with several farmers to buy bulls.

A field day was organised to display the bulls in 1982, but anyone who had purchased before or shown interest was contacted before the event. Of the 24 bulls on show, only two were left to sell on the day. The dilemma of how to satisfy the demand resulted in the agents from five different stock firms, suddenly keen to be involved in running a sale. Their advice was to run an auction and 30 young bulls were sold in the first auction at Rissington in 1983 and built up to over 80 bulls by the late 1980s.

In 1985, John and Star; Bill Hall who owned Woolrest; Eddie Dixon and Guy Sargent of Dalstud joined together to import Simmental embryos from the world-acclaimed Bar 5 Simmental in Canada. At the time it was considered a big gamble given the nature of the project and the capital required. The media followed the process from Bar 5 in Canada to the sale of the calves at Rissington and it was featured in an episode of Country Calendar

The gamble paid off with sale of the 39 calves grossing $324,000, averaging $8,300 and selling to New Zealand and Australian breeders. As they say, the rest is history.

John Absolom served on the Simmental NZ Society for 11 years and he judged many shows throughout New Zealand and internationally in Australia and Paraguay. In 2015, John’s contribution to the Simmental breed was recognised when he was made an Honorary Life Member.

Today, Rissington Cattle Company has expanded to include Angus which Star’s family had been breeding since 1936, Profit Maker, a trademarked composite breed predominantly made up of Angus and Simmental, and

14 Simmental NZ HISTORY
ABOVE Rissington is now in the hands of Jeremy, Daniel and Ben Absolom.

Charolais cattle. The operation is in the hands of three of John and Star’s four sons, Jeremy, Daniel and Ben. The brothers continue to operate under the foundation and philosophy established by their late father John and four earlier generations of the Absolom family who have lived at Rissington. They run a unique partnering programme with their contract beef and dairy customers, providing them with price and specification certainty up to two years out, which also supports the ongoing investment in genetic gain. “We take this same long-term approach to our beef breeding programmes dedicated to sustainable and profitable beef production for our farmer partners and customers,” Daniel says. “We comprehensively measure the inputs and outputs of all our cattle and utilise advanced genetic testing to identify and produce the very best natural service and artificial insemination bulls available for our beef and dairy farmer partners.”

A feature of the Rissington business is the long-term collaborations with local and international cattlemen and companies. Many of these relationships span more than 20 years, some nearly 50 years, and often across generations. A great example is the nearly 40-year connection with Leachman Cattle at Fort Collins in Colorado, United States. “Our two programmes have been pursuing very similar selection goals and with the recent increased emphasis on beef quality here in New Zealand and increasingly global marketplace, our selection goals are essentially the same today,” Daniel says. It was an easy decision to combine their genetic predictions into a single analysis, he explains. In spite of the significant environmental differences between Rissington and Leachman Cattle, the birth weights, weight per day of age through to 400 days and mature cow weights are very similar. It is the same with their ultrasound comparisons. “This exciting development allowed our

cattle to be truly compared on a global scale. This enables us to see first-hand the latest genetics and developments and keep abreast of market developments,” he says.

In 2023 Rissington was awarded the prestigious Leachman ‘Hairpin Award’ at their Annual Spring Sale.

Other key partnerships include the likes of Vytelle. Rissington were the first to pioneer their unique equipment back in 2018 which allows them to measure individual feed intake on their cattle, global genomics company Zoetis, dairy co-operative Livestock Improvement Corporation and reproductive company Animal Breeding Services.

There’s always one eye on the future at Rissington, especially with another generation of the family beginning their involvement in the business. Staying focused on profitability for their clients is always a balance between the fresh thinking which comes from the younger generation and wisdom and experience of the current and past generations.

simmental.co.nz 15
ABOVE Pictured in 1982, John Absolom, Rissington, and Rod Cox, Levels Stud, Timaru, who bought Rissington Major for $20,000, making it the highest-priced Simmental bull in New Zealand.
16 Simmental NZ Want to get the most out of your herd? Start by using testing portfolio Ella Holland, National Territory Manager M: 027 386 2410 E: ella@pbbnz.com pbbnz.com To find out more information Trudy Bensted, South Island Territory Manager M: 027 211 1916 E: trudy@pbbnz.com pbbnz.com PBB, PO Box 503, 75 South Street, Feilding 4740 P: 0800 248 247 E: tags@pbbnz.com | pbbnz.com For all your tag requirements Look pretty in TALK TO THE TAG EXPERTS pink . . . or whatever colour you want.

TONY THOMPSON, GLEN ANTHONY STUD

An unexpected visit to the Simme Valley in Switzerland in the late 1960s while completing his ‘OE’ had a huge impact on Tony Thompson’s life. As the name suggests, the Simme Valley is the original home of the Simmental breed.

Tony had completed his final year at the newly minted Massey College Veterinary School and headed off on a P&O round-the-world cruise with his wife Glennis. During a holiday break from studying equine embryology at the University of Cambridge, the couple bought a minivan and headed for the Continent, winding their way through several countries including Switzerland.

Their visit to Simme Valley coincided with a local cattle auction and the Thompsons were able to see locally bred Simmental animals up close for the first time. When live imports to New Zealand began a few years later, they were keen to get involved. Their Glen Anthony Simmental stud is herd number 299, registered in 1973, but Tony says it took another year before “we really got going with our stud”.

He and Glennis moved to 10 ha at Matamata in 1971 after Tony joined a local veterinary practice. They moved south in 1974 to a 93 ha rolling property just outside Waipukurau, when Tony joined Vet Services Hawke’s Bay.

In those early days, many breeders were busy grading up animals to 15/16ths to gain purebred status by using imported semen. But Tony and Glennis made a conscious decision to buy purebred females, rather than grading up. One of their early purchases included a quarter share in

a cow imported to New Zealand by the Norwood family in 1972. When the Norwoods struck difficulties getting her in calf, they passed her over to Tony to see if he could get her to conceive.

Bought for $18,000, the Thompsons and their fellow investors were thrilled when Woolstan Fassan’s first calf was a heifer which they later sold to an Australian buyer soon after for $14,000. This cow was actually transferred to Geoff and Marion Mathis’ Marfrey herd in the Waikato and didn’t make the journey to Hawke’s Bay.

simmental.co.nz 17
ABOVE Tony and Glennis Thompson with their Simmental bull Yardstick. BELOW Simmentals have been a way of life for over 50 years for the Thompson family. Photos Brad Hanson.

They were also lucky to be in the group of Simmental NZ members who successfully applied through a ballot system to buy a purebred heifer each from a consignment of 24 imported from Germany by the government (Lands & Survey) and the fledgling Simmental NZ Society in the early seventies.

near Christchurch. “We got three bull calves in the first flush, two of which we later sold for $2,000 each at the national sale at Palmerston North the following year.”

“I use my own eye and judgement to retain animals within the herd where the major qualities I look for are soundness, temperament, easy calving conformation (not birth weight), good carcass qualities, and eye appeal.”

Lands & Survey selected half the heifers and 12 Simmental members got one each. Tony says he liked the German cattle type and knew they came with robust progeny test data on key traits like milk and growth. “Progeny test data is more accurate than any computer-generated breeding value, so I asked Simmental NZ to get all the information on the full line of heifers,” he says.

They selected a heifer which Tony describes as “a bit ugly”. She had a mostly white coat but appealed because she came with excellent data. Later, they managed to buy more cows off Lands & Survey from that original importation line to boost their own stud numbers.

They sent their German heifer, named Glen Anthony Excel, to a new embryo transplant facility set up by former MP David Carter and his father

Excel went on to leave eight heifers for their stud over the following 10 years. And just recently, breeders in the United States have realised the significance of Excel’s sire, the German bull Haxl. Tony is proud to be the only stud in Australasia to benefit from that bloodline.

In the early eighties, the Thompsons began to show their cattle at regional A&P shows along with other Simmental studs. He credits the late John Absolom with putting Simmental cattle on the map when he started showing a bull he had bought from a South Island sale. “That bull, LBJ Jade, was the bull that got tongues wagging. Phenotypically, he was almost perfect and we fed off John’s success and continued showing our own cattle when John stopped.”

For the next 40 years, Glen Anthony had a show team of up to 20 animals per show and enjoyed fantastic success with more than 20 ‘supreme championship of all

18 Simmental NZ HISTORY
ABOVE Simmental bulls feeding on Tony Thompson’s farm. RIGHT Tony Thompson with one of his bulls. Photos Brad Hanson.

breeds awards’ (Meat & Wool Cup). “Covid-19 put the handbrake on showing and once you stop the cycle of breaking in a few calves or a yearling, it takes time to get back into it again.”

Over the many years of breeding, Tony has acknowledged the rising awareness from bull buyers for performance recording information. He’s respectful of that but has his own take on the accuracy and emphasis to be placed on estimated breeding values. “I use my own eye and judgement to retain animals within the herd where the major qualities I look for are soundness, temperament, easy calving conformation (not birth weight), good carcass qualities, and eye appeal. I want cattle to actually perform in real time and real weight gain.

“While I have respect for estimated breeding values, it is not in my opinion sufficient. Through using my own stock judgement and experience over 50 years of breeding, I have now bred a line of polled, high-performing Simmental cattle, of a very similar phenotype, that is easy on the eye.”

A trip by Tony and Glennis to the 2012 Simmental World Congress in

Germany proved a game changer when they saw how studs there had successfully bred the horns off their cattle in 15 years. “We came home from that trip and decided we would do the same, so from 2013 we started only selecting for polled bulls. Of the 62 calves born in the spring of 2022, we only dehorned three.”

The Glen Anthony sale draws a large group of repeat buyers, including several who started buying bulls back in the seventies. “We continue to try to offer different bloodlines to other studs. We’ve brought in semen from North American bulls in recent years to get away from any narrowing of genetic scope for the breed.”

He’s proud of their many show and sale achievements, including countless Royal and regional show ribbons plus an enviable record from 34 years of two-year-old bull sales. The 2022 annual sale was Glen Anthony’s best yet when the first eight bulls to enter the sale ring were bought by other studs, keen to access the Glen Anthony Executive bloodline.

At the rising two-year weight date, Executive was 100 kg heavier than his contemporaries and his eye muscle area was about a third bigger than the

A trip by Tony and Glennis to the 2012 Simmental World Congress in Germany proved a game changer when they saw how studs there had successfully bred the horns off their cattle in 15 years.

average at 130 square centimetres. “So, we kept him and bred from him. His carcass data was really good and when used over our Y-Arta cows, it was a match made in heaven.”

In the past few years, Tony has been importing and using semen from two homozygous polled bulls from North America. The 2023 sale featured the first line of bulls bred from a Canadian sire, Grinaltas HP Sensation, to be sold in New Zealand.

He’s also impressed by the yearling progeny he’s bred from semen from a United States bull, Saint John Gatton, which will be offered at the 2024 sale. “His yearlings are looking magnificent so buyers will have plenty to consider in the coming years from Glen Anthony.”

Glen Anthony’s herd size peaked at 150 females in the early 2000s but after selling off some land in late 2011, Tony is now running a stud herd of 62 cows and heifers, on 96 ha of rolling country just east of Waipukurau.

simmental.co.nz 19 HISTORY
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SIMMENTAL SURGE IN DEMAND IMMINENT

After just over 50 years in New Zealand, Simmental breeders are poised for another surge in demand for sires that produce faster finishing cattle and heavier carcass weights than traditional breeds.

Simmental cattle quickly earned a reputation for rapid growth rates soon after arriving here in a wave of exotic breed imports, helping to cement its place as the third largest breed in the country behind the Angus and Hereford breeds.

Simmental NZ Councillors Tom Sanson (Gold Creek Simmental) and Daniel Absolom (Rissington Cattle) believe the breed is in a prime position to capitalise on its proven ability to sire fast-growing cattle at heavier carcass weights before the second winter. They are buoyed by the results coming in the past eight years from the Informing NZ Beef Progeny Tests which show a reliable, large advantage in growth rate and carcass weights for progeny born to Simmental sires.

They say the strong, extended swing by commercial beef farmers to the Angus breed presents a massive opportunity for Simmental. “A lot of commercial farmers have used Angus bulls at the expense of crossbreeding and the benefits of hybrid vigour for close to three decades now,” Absolom says.

But now the realisation is growing that Simmental has a set of attributes to complement the modern-day Angus, predominantly as a terminal sire.

None of the progeny test results come as a surprise to Simmental breeders as the breed advantage has been well documented and proven over the past 50 years. “The awareness and momentum have been building since the first progeny test results started

being released. It’s real third-party data and in multiple commercial environments, so it’s good for the breed,” Absolom says.

Sanson also expects more farmers with larger beef cow herds to adopt the trend showing up in sheep systems where only enough females are mated to produce sufficient heifer replacements, and the rest go terminal sire. “In most beef herds, farmers could get sufficient heifer replacements from two to three age groups, and potentially all their mixedage cows could go to Simmental bulls,” he says. “The weight advantage, be it weight gain to weaning or slaughter carcass weight, is clear. The other advantage is shorter days to

optimal carcass weight or harvest, so fewer days onfarm and ultimately a smaller environmental footprint.”

Both are confident that with the right genetics and feeding, commercial farmers using Simmental bulls in a terminal beef system, particularly over Angus cows, will be capable of slaughtering steers before their second winter. “It’s really a case of breed complementarity, the Simmental over the Angus of today, so you get the growth and weight advantage of Simmental with the carcass merit of Angus,” Absolom says. “You don’t want to sacrifice marbling, and the modern Simmental has the ability to do this, hence its place as the preferred cross with Angus.”

simmental.co.nz 21 TECHNOLOGY & ADVANCEMENTS
ABOVE From left, Tom Sanson, Daniel Absolom and Jason Archer at the March 2024 Lochinver Field Day.

There is good variation in marbling showing up in the Simmental gene pool in New Zealand and breeders and commercial farmers have a marbling EBV to use in their selection. “We’ve known that Simmental have good marbling from data from other countries like the United States where there’s been a payment structure that rewards farmers for marbling for many years,” Absolom continues.

A good New Zealand example is progeny from the Simmental sire Rissington New Standard AU158 in the Beef Progeny Test, who was ranked first out of 242 sires for yearling weight, 18-month weight, eye muscle area and fourth for marbling. The weight difference between his average for 18-month progeny and the sire with the lightest 18-month progeny average was 72 kg. “On killing 18-month cattle at $5.50/kg, and allowing for dressing percentage, that’s about an extra $210 per calf and $8,400 over that calf crop if you sell all 40 calves from that sire that year,” Absolom says.

It is reinforced by the dominance of Simmental bulls in crossbreeding programmes over Angus cows in the United States. One of the advantages of Simmental underused by commercial farmers is the breed’s maternal ability, which is currently being investigated at the Beef + Lamb NZ Genetics Progeny Test at Lochinver Station in central North Island.

It has been long recognised in other markets like the US. “There are a lot of Simmental-Angus bulls sold in that US market today. The Simmental is recognised as one of the few European breeds that doesn’t compromise Angus marbling,” Absolom continues.

Several Simmental breeders are running programmes to breed Black Simmental bulls as an option for beef producers keen to maintain a solid black coloured cow herd.

The recent Beef Progeny Test results show there is significant hybrid vigour from the maternal side when crossbred cows are mated to terminal sires, backing up earlier research from the seventies in the US which

showed a 23% increase in kilograms of calf weaned per cow mated. “Many farmers still choose to have purebred commercial cows. But they are walking away from the free lunch offered by hybrid vigour from having crossbred cows. There wouldn’t be many industries where you can get a 23 per cent lift (in production) yet the majority of commercial farmers choose not to take it up,” Absolom says.

Moderate cow size has also been maintained and some temperament issues from the past have been sorted with the help of a docility estimated breeding value (EBV) developed for the breed which allowed breeders to cull troublesome animals from their herds.

Adding to growing demand for sires, Sanson says there are also signs emerging of an increase in the cattle component on many hill country farms which he expects will continue if the downward pressure remains on sheepmeat and wool returns. “It is being driven by a combination of things apart from lower farmgate returns. Drench resistance is a big issue in many sheep flocks these days and there’s also the challenge of finding staff to handle the high workload of large sheep flocks,” he says. “Any

increase in cattle numbers, particularly cows, will create demand for more bulls, so we need to be ready to capitalise on that change.”

Looking ahead, they say it will be up to Simmental seed stock producers to promote the advantages of the breed to commercial beef farmers, and capitalise on the complementarity it offers, especially to commercial Angus cow herds.

Simmental NZ may not have as many breeders as it did in the halcyon days but they are spread across the country and equipped with independent research to support the growth in demand for bulls.

As a breed, Simmental is also developing a niche in the dairy sector so there is plenty of upside available to grow market share, especially now most dairy companies are enforcing a reduction in bobby calf slaughter by their suppliers. “There’s exciting times ahead because of this collision of technologies unlocking huge potential to lift productivity and profitability onfarm,” Absolom says. “The likes of NAIT which gives us individual animal identification, the Beef + Lamb Progeny Test data for both beef and dairy beef, genomic tools, and the

22 Simmental NZ TECHNOLOGY & ADVANCEMENTS
PER CENT INCREASE IN WEIGHT OF CALF WEANED PER COW EXPOSED TO BREEDING 24 20 16 12 8 4 0 -4 Straightbred cows straightbred calves Straightbred cows X-bred calves X-bred cows X-bred calves
Maternal Direct Straight

actual carcass data from the processors, and all of that objective data available to seed stock producers and commercial farmers, is so compelling for Simmental.”

Sanson and Absolom are also excited about the potential generated from the recent launch of a new genetic evaluation for Simmental with International Genetic Solutions (IGS) which has recently taken over the breed data analysis after three decades with Australasian provider Breedplan.

The IGS move means data from Simmental NZ, Simmental Australia, American Simmental and Canadian Simmental is now part of one unique global evaluation. IGS has more than 22 million animals with over 500,000 genotypes in its database, creating a genuine international database and hugely improving the accuracy of EBVs offered at bull sale time for commercial farmers. “The great advantage at the outset is there are 241 New Zealand sires with progeny in multiple databases, creating important linkages and better accuracy,” Absolom says. “The numbers are staggering and it’s a huge leg-up for Simmental in New Zealand to be able to leverage a dataset of this size.

“IGS can include all the historic actual carcass data from the Beef + Lamb Progeny Tests and greatly enhance the carcass EBVs. Historically the carcass EBVs have been driven off carcass ultrasound and correlated traits, but nothing beats actual carcass data.”

BLACK SIMMENTAL IDEAL CHOICE FOR ANGUS HERDS

Black-coated Simmental bulls are tipped to become more mainstream as the surge in Angus cow numbers continues.

Simmental NZ Councillor Garry McCorkindale is one of several seed stock producers who have followed the global shift to breed black-coated Simmental bulls for the commercial market in New Zealand.

These bulls are increasingly popular among Angus cow herd owners looking to retain the black colour of their calf progeny, but capitalise on the hybrid vigour coming from the Simmental genetics.

Otago-based McCorkindale operates the Glenside stud and says the Simmental has always been highly regarded for its terminal sire capabilities in crossbreeding programmes, but it has strong maternal qualities too.

More than 80% of the Simmental studs in the United States had embraced breeding Black Simmentals for the past two decades, mostly in response to the growing dominance of Angus as the preferred choice among cow herd owners. A similar trend is sweeping through Australia too.

Fellow Simmental NZ Councillor Tom Sanson of Gold Creek Simmentals agrees, and recently started his own programme to breed Black Simmentals with females from a small group of New Zealand herds with surplus stock available. “Black Simmentals already enjoy a great name and reputation in the US and Australian markets, where they are well established by farmers who are looking for more,” he says. “These cattle are well known and followed not just for their fantastic growth rates and carcass yield, but also their low birth weight, calving ease and fertility –attributes often not associated with Simmentals.”

Black Simmentals are a stabilised SimmentalAngus cross which can also perform well in intra-muscular fat and marbling scoring. “When first crossed with Angus, there’s a huge boost in performance of the progeny. They also retain and remain black and polled,” Sanson continues.

With the beef cow herd and market dominated by Angus, Sanson says Black Simmentals offer commercial farmers another option, with renowned terminal sire qualities plus its maternal and great eating quality characteristics.

simmental.co.nz 23 TECHNOLOGY & ADVANCEMENTS

COLLABORATIVE DATA FOR THE COMMON GOOD

International Genetic Solutions aims to serve the beef industry by providing resources for genetic improvement using the best technology available and unprecedented collaboration.

Early in life, we are taught to share. Share with our siblings, share with our classmates, share with our neighbours. The fact that we have to learn this behaviour is telling – it’s not instinctive. It’s human nature to protect what is “ours” and become territorial to ensure we have what we need to survive and thrive; however, we have seen how we all can do better by working together, sharing resources, and maybe most importantly, sharing ideas. This philosophy of comradery and collaboration is at the heart of the International Genetic Solutions (IGS).

IGS aims to serve the beef industry by providing resources for genetic improvement using the best technology available and unprecedented collaboration. The IGS collaboration has over 22 million animals and over 600,000 genotypes from 20 different organisations. Not only is it the largest beef cattle database, but it also has a huge amount of connectivity among the different organisations. Nearly one third of the progeny records in the IGS evaluation have siblings in a separate database and multiple sires have progeny in as many as 17 databases. If each of these databases was an island with an isolated evaluation, the IGS team could breathe a little easier because the evaluation would be much simpler. But, it wouldn’t be better. It wouldn’t be as accurate. It wouldn’t give the best genetic predictions of

the animals in the evaluation because more data is the key to more accurate genetic predictions.

Let’s talk through an example for Simmental NZ. There are 241 sires in the Simmental NZ database who also have progeny in another IGS database. By joining IGS, the Simmental NZ Society adds 276,607 progeny records to these 241 sires. That is a 28-fold increase in progeny records on these bulls. One might think that only benefits that small number of sires, but this addition adds accuracy to all of their relatives which sprawls throughout the animals in the Simmental NZ database.

A visual way to see the IGS advantage is depicted in the below

graphic. This graph shows the total data entering into the IGS evaluation (top line) compared to single breed society contributions at the bottom of the graph. The point illustrated here is that even the larger associations’ contributions are dwarfed by the IGS collective amount of data entering into the evaluation. We all improve our predictions by being a part of IGS.

It is complex to have one evaluation with 20 different data sources. It is challenging to have a multi-breed genetic evaluation and to account for different breed effects and heterosis. But at the end of the day, we want to provide the BEST possible genetic

ABOVE The total data entering into the IGS evaluation (top line) compared to single breed society contributions at the bottom of the graph. The point illustrated here is that even the larger associations’ contributions are dwarfed by the IGS collective amount of data entering into the evaluation.

24 Simmental NZ TECHNOLOGY & ADVANCEMENTS
2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 BIRTH YEAR Individual Data Sources Combined IGS Data 450000 400000 350000 300000 250000 200000 150000 100000 50000 0 PEDIGREE RECORDS BY YEAR OF BIRTH NUMBER OF PEDIGREE RECORDS

predictions, not only to seed stock breeders but for anyone using genetic predictions to select their future genetics.

The IGS model sets aside the territorial behaviours that crop up in breed societies. Instead of guarding our data, our material, our resources, to be used only to help our association improve, the IGS system opens the doors of communication among all the IGS partners to offer better resources to all the members and ultimately the beef industry. We all benefit from working together and sharing

various perspectives from different breeds of cattle, different breed societies, and different countries but with the common goal of beef cattle genetic improvement. Beyond making the best possible genetic predictors, the staff from the various IGS partners learn from each other, share educational material, collaborate on different research projects, and work through various challenges most of us have faced independently but can get through better together.

IGS is excited to welcome Simmental NZ as our most recent addition to the IGS collaboration. This marks the fourth Simmental breed society to join IGS – with Australian, Canadian, and United States welcoming in another Simmental society. While the future is unknown to all of us, it is certain to improve by working together towards the same common good.

simmental.co.nz 25 TECHNOLOGY & ADVANCEMENTS
Jackie Atkins, PhD, Director of IGS Operations LEFT Tom Sanson, Garry McCorkindale and Daniel Absolom (Simmental NZ Councillors) visiting the American Simmental Association in July 2023.
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Breeding

The big chap deserves a bit of bovine affection – after all, he has been in service since moving to the Far North from Wairoa in 2018 and he is still standing.

A LABOUR OF LOVE

Far North farmer Lance Oliver has taken a little over five years to confirm his preference for cattle that have a breeding history traceable back to the Middle Ages.

simmental.co.nz 27 ONFARM

It is a long way from the upper reaches of the Hokianga Harbour, where the threegeneration-old family business Oliver and Sons is centred, to the Simme River valley in Bern, Switzerland. But somewhere around the time legendary Polynesian navigator Kupe was coming ashore in the Hokianga for his first visit, the Simmental breed was gaining official status in central Europe.

There is little doubt those early Swiss farmers would have been impressed with the live weight gains and subsequent prices that Lance Oliver reported from the Far North weaner fair in Peria this March. Their top line made $1,275 each with the heaviest males weighing in at just over 400 kg and the overall average weight of the seven-month-old weaners topping 300 kg.

While the backbone of Lance Oliver’s farming operation remains 1,000 dairy cows spread over two farms, Lance says the Simmental component has quickly become an important factor.

It began in 2018 when they bought a nearby 520-hectare drystock farm and tried using Simmental bulls over some of the white-face beef breeding herd that had been built up from their dairy operations. In addition the new property is used for finishing Friesian bulls sourced from the dairy businesses.

These are the cows that are mated with full Simmentals and produce 400 kg plus weaners at just seven months.

Today, this farm, which has a full-time manager, is home to the 270-cow white-face breeding herd that is kept replenished from the dairy farms. These are the cows that are mated with full Simmentals and produce 400 kg plus weaners at just seven months.

More importantly, these weaners are being produced with a minimum of inputs. “We’ve quickly grown to love the Simmentals with their rapid weight gains, ease of calving and even temperament. Having the Simmental calves stay on their mothers for seven months, right up to the day they are drafted and trucked off to the weaner fair, makes management relatively easy. We have a very friendly, low-impact production system in the north,” Lance explains.

In the Hokianga, towards the central bush-clad ranges, this is made easier by the fairly reliable rainfall pattern. “It might not produce quite as

28 Simmental NZ ONFARM

FARM FACTS

Farm name: Oliver and Sons

Location: Rangiahua, Northland

Area: 525 hectares total (380 ha effective)

Paddock sizes: 3 ha

Contour: 50% flat 50% steep hill

Stock wintered: 270 breeding cows, 200 R2 bulls, 120 dairy cows, 300 ewes

SHORT-TERM GOALS

• Average calf weaning weight of 350 kg bull, 290 kg heifer.

• Average bull carcass weight of 320 kg.

simmental.co.nz 29 ONFARM
Two of the younger Simmental bulls, curious but well behaved.
“We’ve quickly grown to love the Simmentals with their rapid weight gains, ease of calving and even temperament.”
30 Simmental NZ ONFARM

much per hectare as Canterbury, but we don’t have to irrigate and if we get our timing right, we only need a fraction of the nitrogen.”

Knowing the local conditions and reacting accordingly is key to the success of this multi-layered farming system. Some of this knowledge comes from the family’s long association with the district. Lance’s grandfather bought a 147-acre block there in the 1930s which is still part of the overall operation. And Lance’s father and uncle both left school at the age of 16 to begin working on farms in the area.

“What we do is really a balancing act around how early we can calve. Too early and it is likely going to be too wet for the stocking rate we want to achieve. Too late and we won’t have the weaners ready for the autumn fairs.”

Lance says it was basically about matching the grass growth curve with the increasing stock demand as the Simmentals grow so quickly, all the while keeping in mind the Northland

soils and climate. But getting this equation right on the Olivers’ combined farming operation is not a simple balancing act.

Most of their acreage is on heavy clay soils, some of it even podzolized, requiring considerable applications of lime fertiliser and being prone to pugging if not carefully managed.

However, the new 520-hectare drystock unit which is home to the Simmentals has about 50% of marine clay flats that were reclaimed many years ago from the upper reaches of the harbour. It is on these flats and adjacent foothills that 200 Friesian bulls are finished and the Simmental weaners are raised. As with much of the Far North, the hills include a matrix of remnant native bush and radiata pine, accounting for more than 100 hectares on this property.

“When the flats were being drained the authorities wanted the owner to do even more, but he didn’t take up the offer. He reckoned it was hard

Postcard-perfect, Lance snaps a shot of his beef breeding herd with the marine flats in the mid ground below and the upper reaches of the Hokianga Harbour beyond, all the way to the historic townships of Horeke and Kohukohu.

“It was basically about matching the grass growth curve with the increasing stock demand as the Simmentals grow so quickly, all the while keeping in mind the Northland soils and climate.”
simmental.co.nz 31
ABOVE The bulls get to share the harder hill country with a small flock of sheep. If left on the flats these bulls would be at least 300 kg heavier. LEFT TOP Lance on a dry Northland hillside looking for his senior bull to present for the Country Wide photographer. LEFT BOTTOM
“I truly believe our system, at our stocking rate, with the right genetics, achieving the weaning weights we are, competes with any alternative beef system on a profit-per-hectare basis.”

enough work reclaiming this much; you certainly wouldn’t be able to do any of it these days,” Lance says.

One group of animals that do not get to spend much time on the highly productive marine flats are the herd sires. The big Simmental bulls are grazed on the adjacent hill country. If left on the flats the already large bulls would be around 300 kg heavier, an unnecessary burden on the smallerframed white-face cows when it comes time for mating.

Keeping weight off the bulls is especially important for the two-year-

old replacements Lance has begun adding to the breeding herd. “We are calving them as genuine two-yearolds without any problems.”

He says the relatively intensive management of the herd at mating time pays off with contented bulls. The breed herd is split into units of 40 cows which are break fed with one bull per unit.

Approximately every two weeks the bulls are rotated through the units; this is designed to minimise the impact of having a “dud” bull. “These herd sires are beautiful big animals

that are easy to handle. The problem we found with putting three bulls out with 100 cows was that the bulls compete for every cow, and in the process they lose condition rapidly, get sore feet and risk injury. Single sire mating as we do now, the bulls don’t get injured or tire out. It might be a bit more intensive, but at the end of the breeding season we can run all the bulls back in the same paddock and they get along just fine.”

Most of the bulls come from the Kerrah Stud in Wairoa, with a couple from the Gold Creek Stud in Gisborne and recently from Beefit Simmentals a few kilometres down the road at Umawera. One of the Kerrah bulls they used in their first Simmental calving in 2018 is still standing. “Some people tell us that having breeder cows and raising weaners can’t compete with having bulls, but the beef system we have developed using Simmentals is a nice fit when we are producing replacement beef cows from our own dairy herds.

“You could say it is a labour of love, but as long as we get the calving dates to match our peak seasonal grass production and don’t have to rely on supplements, I truly believe our system, at our stocking rate, with the right genetics, achieving the weaning weights we are, competes with any alternative beef system on a profit-per-hectare basis.”

Unlike his father, who left school at 16 to go farming, Lance studied agriculture at university, which means many of his choices are data driven. But one slightly odd fact about getting the best out of their weaners seems to lack the logic of numbers.

Simmental calves from white-face mothers come in a distinct set of colours – greys, reds and blacks. When it comes to drafting them at the weaner fairs the Olivers are careful to select pens with the same coloured weaners. For some reason lots with a single colour always return a better price than mixed coloured pens with the same weights. Could this be an old Swiss superstition?

simmental.co.nz 33 ONFARM
TOP Part of the 270-cow beef breeding herd sourced from the Olivers’ dairy operation. BOTTOM Lance juggles old-school local knowledge with data-driven decision making for a well-balanced result. LEFT The physique of this young Simmental suggests why his progeny can reach more than 400 kg live weight at weaning.

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With finishers lining up at the door to take their calves, a bold decision to move into Simmentals 40 years ago continues to pay dividends for South Canterbury commercial beef breeders Hamish and Charlotte Bell.

WORDS & PHOTOS ANNIE STUDHOLME

Hamish and Charlotte Bell farm Ngaripa, a 1,000-hectare sheep and beef property at Cattle Creek in the remote Hakataramea Valley. With a backdrop of the Kirkliston Range and Hunter Hills, it’s a unique farming region renowned for producing quality livestock, fibre and produce despite its challenging climate. The Bells run 110 Simmental cross cows, 35 in-calf 18-month-old heifers plus replacements, but their main business is 3,800 Romney sheep. In a

typical season, all lambs are fattened on the farm, while calves are sold annually at the Hakataramea Calf Sale in April.

Alongside their farming operation and frustrated by continual low prices for their wool, two years ago, the Bells took the plunge and launched The Clip, a high-end fashion label producing luxurious 100% wool coats made from their 30-micron lambswool clip. They started with their signature woollen coat, Miss Denise, in three-

colour waves. That’s since increased to six colours, and they’ve recently added a men’s coat and women’s vest.

Hamish was brought up in the Hakataramea Valley; Charlotte, in nearby Kurow. He and Charlotte took over Ngaripa from his parents, Alex and the late Denise Bell, 16 years ago. The farm ranges from gently rolling hills and deep gullies to flats. The homestead sits 500 m above sea level, while the back boundary is 680 m. Its annual rainfall sits at around 500 ml.

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The weather is extreme, from really hot in summer to bitterly cold in winter, so it’s important they have animals that can survive and perform in the harsh environment – year in, year out – no matter what the climate throws at them, explains Hamish.

While the Romney sheep remain the mainstay, the cattle are a crucial part of the farming operation. “It’s always been a sheep and beef property. They complement each other. We need the cattle to clean up the brown top. If I could run more cows, I would. The cows are definitely my favourite but we are limited by the conditions. Once they are weaned, they basically have to feed themselves. Depending on the season, there are times of the year when we have to supplement their feed.”

Hamish credits his father with switching from a straight Hereford

herd to a Simmental cross back in the 1980s; they’ve stuck with them ever since. First introduced to New Zealand in a wave of exotic cattle imports in the early 1970s, the Swiss breed immediately found success with farmers looking for hybrid vigour, explosive growth development and outstanding milk production.

“It’s turned out to be a good cross for us,” says Hamish. “They grow so much bigger and milk better than the straight Hereford. But having that little bit of Hereford means they can hold on better when it gets dry. The traditional Simmental was tall, lanky, big-framed, and had less meat, but years of breeding have made them more compact and muscular.”

While the differences in their calves could be seen immediately, he says it took time for the cows’ milking ability to improve. The early Simmentals

weren’t without their problems either, he adds. With numbers few and far between in the beginning, many breeders weren’t concerned about temperament, which gave the breed a bad reputation, but that has since been laid to rest.

Simmentals were among the first to introduce EBVs (Estimated Breeding Values) for docility. “The old Simmental breed was quite scary, but now they are so docile. They had a bad rap initially, but it’s definitely how you treat them. Now, we don’t seem to have any problems.”

Each year, bulls go out on 5 November, with calving starting 10 August. The main breeding herd goes to the Simmental, with their steer calves sold (about 60) and heifers mated over a straight Hereford bull for calving ease. The top 30 heifers are recruited as replacements for the

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ABOVE The Bells purchased three new bulls this season with the Simmental bulls to go over the main herd, while the Hereford bull (on left) will be put over the heifers for calving ease. RIGHT This season has been one of the toughest for the Bells on Ngaripa with extremely dry conditions.

FARM FACTS

Farm name: Ngaripa Farm

Location: Cattle Creek, Hakataramea Valley

Area: 1,000 ha

Paddock sizes: 4 to 90 ha

Contour: Rolling and steeper ridges

Stock wintered: 4,000 sheep and 170 cattle

SHORT-TERM GOALS

• Ewe lambing 160%

• Average lamb weaning weight 34 kg

• Maintain 100% calving rate

• Average calf weaning weight of 300 kg

Hamish credits his father with switching from a straight Hereford herd to a Simmental cross back in the 1980s; they’ve stuck with them ever since.
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breeding herd, so there is plenty to choose from to replace the cows that aren’t performing. The rest are sold as in-calf rising three-year-olds.

Over the years, the Bells have bought Simmental bulls from breeders across the South Island. They aim to purchase one or two new bulls each season, but it is dependent on cash flow. Hamish finds they get good longevity from the Simmentals, whereas they replace their Hereford bulls after two years. “A lot of them are using similar genetics. Different places are after different things. It’s good to keep bringing in new genetics. I like to try to change it a bit. It’s about getting the right one to suit our farming conditions.”

He currently has bulls from David and Jayne Timperley’s Opawa Simmental Stud at Cave (South Canterbury), Warren Burgess’ Beresford Simmental Stud in Owaka,

and Everd and Marie Strauss’ Leafland Simmental Stud in Mosgiel, together with a young Hereford bull from Paul and Fiona Scott’s Matatoki Hereford Stud at Mungatai (South Canterbury). While Hamish emphasises purchasing Simmental bulls with strong growth weights at 200 and 400 days, he also looks at those with good EBVs for milking ability and docility. One thing he’s not so concerned with is birth weight. “The cows are big-framed animals so they can have bigger calves, and with putting a Hereford bull over the heifers and keeping their heifer calves, we don’t want low birth weight replacements.”

Hamish finds there is only so much you can gain from reading the sales catalogue, though. He says there is no substitute for seeing bulls in the flesh. “I have to like them. There are bulls in every stud that I wouldn’t touch. While

ABOVE Rising three-year-old Simmental Hereford cross cows. LEFT TOP The Bells’ 3,800 Romney flock remains the mainstay of the farming operation with their lambs wool now used in high-end 100% wool coats. LEFT BOTTOM The Bells’ calves are big and tough, growing well from day one, which leads to top dollar come calf sale time.

“They grow so much bigger and milk better than the straight Hereford. But having that little bit of Hereford means they can hold on better when it gets dry.”
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they have to have good figures, above all, they have to have good feet, good colour, and good eye pigment. I prefer the darker reds that are smaller, more athletic, and compact.”

The Bells’ cows predominantly calve unassisted out on the farm. They have good mothering ability, and the calves are good at getting up and getting a feed straight after birth. Their calves are big and tough, growing well from day one, which is undoubtedly why they have continually fetched a premium at the Hakataramea Calf Sale. Hamish and Charlotte, or brother Aaron and Emma Bell on Strathmea

Downs, have frequently topped the sale over the years.

“People always seem to be chasing our calves come sale time. We’ve developed a really good name over the years. The Simmental cross has greater potential and achieves that potential because it’s a bigger animal. People know that they can buy our calves and grow them out to the bigger weights (which equals more money), which is why they come back to buy them year after year,” says Hamish.

Having created such a strong reputation in the calf market, Hamish sees no reason to change away from

using Simmentals. “I haven’t thought about changing. Maybe I would think about it if I weren’t in the calf market, but it works for this place.”

This season has been one of the toughest for the Bells on Ngaripa. On top of terrible wool and sheep prices, it is the first season in many that they’ve been forced to de-stock, selling calves early ahead of the sale due to the extremely dry conditions. Luckily, their regular buyers were prepared to take them. With little to no feed, they were already having to feed out to stock. They’re hanging out for some much-needed rain.

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ABOVE The Bells have had such proven success with using Simmental bulls they see no reason to change. RIGHT Opawa Jack Daniel is a perfect example of the type of Simmental bull Hamish Bell goes for.
“The Simmental cross has greater potential and achieves that potential because it’s a bigger animal. People know that they can buy our calves and grow them out to the bigger weights (which equals more money).”
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A BETTER CASH FLOW

Russell and Margot Dever’s Poko Poko Station is located 42 km west of Wairoa in the steep sand and siltstone foothills of the mountains of Te Urewera. Beyond are the massive greywacke Pankekiri and Ngamoko ranges, characterised by sheer bluffs, dissected by clear-flowing rivers, and cradling the spectacular jewel of Tuhoe, Lake Waikaremoana.

FARM FACTS

Farm name: Poko Poko Station, sheep and beef

Location: Waikaremoana, West of Wairoa, Northern Hawke’s Bay

Area: 612 hectares (500 ha effective)

Paddock sizes: 10 to 30 ha

Contour: 90% Class 3 steep hill country and 10% flat

Stock wintered: 5,000 stock units (9.4 su/ha)

SHORT-TERM GOALS

• Ewe lambing 160%

• Average lamb weaning weight of 30 kg

• Hogget lambing 90%

• Maintain 90–94% calving rate

• Average calf weaning weight of 270 kg

• Average yearling steer sale weight of 350 kg

WORDS & PHOTOS LOUISE SAVAGE
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Russell Dever’s parents, Graham and Jeanette, bought Poko Poko in 1964; it was scrub-covered and divided into only 12 paddocks, and the access road to Wairoa was winding and gravel all the way. In 1993 Russell and Margot bought the farm and while Graham and Jeanette now live in Gisborne, they still enjoy being involved. “Dad’s 93 but he still likes to do things,” says Russell. “He gave up riding a horse only a couple of years ago and just recently gave up the last of his dogs.”

Russell and Margot have subdivided the paddocks further and there are now 60. They started with AngusSouth Devon cows before changing to Simmentals in the late 1990s.

A google search for pictures of the Simmental region of Switzerland reveals a stunning landscape of steep and rugged mountains, pastures interspersed with woodlands and copses of trees. It’s clear why Simmental cattle are perfectly at home and thrive at Poko Poko Station.

Russell says, “I watched my fatherin-law Graeme Williamson with admiration. He farmed Simmentals and always topped the Taupo weaner fair. We took his advice and began buying Simmental bulls from Tony and Glenys Thompson at Glen Anthony Stud, Waipukurau.”

The first-cross cattle had terrific hybrid vigour, producing top-quality weaners that frequently topped the Wairoa weaner fair.

The Devers now favour bulls from Tom Sanson’s Gold Creek Stud in Gisborne. “We wanted to introduce new bloodlines, using bulls bred and raised on the steep Gisborne hill country. We have big-framed cows and want to add more meat. We now sell yearling steers, which provide a better cash flow.”

When it comes to soil and pasture, Waikaremoana, Te Urewera and the east coast of the North Island were mantled by layer upon layer of volcanic ash deposits from Taupo volcano during an eruptive period that lasted from 300,000 years ago to just 1,800 years ago. Apart from the steepest

slopes where the ash cover has eroded away, the soil parent material on Poko Poko comprises Taupo ash and pumice. In places it is over 2 m in thickness.

The soils comprise a light layer of black topsoil above volcanic deposits and are prone to slipping when severe rain falls on the steepest slopes. Russell says, “Cyclone Gabrielle left us with three hundred slips … and counting.”

Soil and herbage tests are done by Ballance every two or three years. The Olsen P levels on the flats are in the 30s and mid-20s on the hill country, with a soil pH of 5.8.

Pumice country needs extra sulphur, especially after wet summers, and the policy is to fertilise “above and beyond”, though this has always depended on finances, and in the past, on boarding school fees. The 20 ha of flats are ground-spread with dicalcic superphosphate at 450 kg per ha. The flats are required to be productive as they are a big part of the finishing system on Poko Poko.

Previously 4 ha of lucerne had been grown on the flats and lasted eight

44 Simmental NZ

years. That was replaced with 6 ha of a base tetraploid and clover mix, and another 6 ha are in plantain/clover mix. The steers go on the flats July and August before being sold. The plan is to re-sow in three years and the Devers will look at other options to try.

The hill country is topdressed with Sulphurgain 15S at variable rates, totalling 280 kg per ha.

In a typical year, Poko Poko receives 1,800 mm of rain to be summer-safe, but notwithstanding storms it can get summer-dry. Recent winters have been wet and quite mild. “Sometimes, after the cyclones and storms we’ve been through, I get caught up on the mess in front of me. I only need to raise my eyes and look at this beautiful view to be reminded of what a privilege it is to farm here, and of the fact there are others far worse off than me,” says Russell.

The Devers were isolated for 10 days with no communications after Cyclone Gabrielle. They experienced not only damage to the farm and infrastructure

but human tragedy too. Margot’s cousin Marie Greene lost her life at Dartmoor, Hawke’s Bay as a result of Gabrielle. Asked how the Devers measure their success, Margot says without hesitation, that for her, success is the willingness of their adult children, and their partners, to come back and help on the farm, fitting visits in between their own full-time jobs. “Success to us is being happy in our work, having our health and having our children willing and wanting to come and help when needed. And of course, producing good stock that we are able to feed optimally, that the same buyers come back year after year for.”

The apples haven’t fallen far from the Dever tree. Eldest son, Jack (29) lives in Perth with his fiancée Alice Lock, where Jack is an export representative for Beaufort River Meats. Tom (26) is stock manager at Fernside Station and lives there, inland from Tokomaru Bay, with his partner Ema Heke. Milly is the youngest (21) and has spent 12 months on a remote Northern Territory cattle station before taking a job in the mines

“Success to us is being happy in our work, having our health and having our children willing and wanting to come and help when needed. And of course, producing good stock that we are able to feed optimally, that the same buyers come back year after year for.”
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LEFT There are 2,856 sheep on Poko Poko and the steep country necessitates mustering on horseback and on foot. RIGHT Simmental calf showing the characteristics that make the breed attractive to the Devers. FAR LEFT Margot and Russell Dever have for 31 years farmed the spectacular landscape that is Poko Poko Station.

outside Perth where she is an electrical trade assistant.

In terms of Simmental on Poko Poko, capital beef stock currently include 212 mixed-age cows (including 44 R3 heifers), 50 R2 heifers, 193 mixed-sex calves and 11 bulls. Cows are retained only until nine years old.

Russell says the Simmental cattle are good milkers, nice to work, quiet in temperament, and he adds, “I like the big size of them, and the deep red colour. They’re nice to look at.”

The cattle are grass-fed year-round. Cows and calves are grazed with lambs or on their own. Weaned cows are mobbed-up to clean up paddocks, following mobs of ewes, and do a great job on the steep country by cleaning up any rough tucker.

On 20 November the R2 heifers are put to a Hereford bull for three cycles. Yearling heifers are not mated. Margot and Russell agree a cow needs to grow and mature on their steep country before she breeds. The mixed-age cows are put to a Simmental bull 1 December.

The characteristics sought in sires are good temperament, conformation, colour and pigmentation, EBVs and scrotum size. Russell says the Simmental cattle are good milkers, nice to work, quiet in temperament, and he adds, “I like the big size of them, and the deep red colour. They’re nice to look at.”

The first-calvers, the R3 heifers, start calving 28 August and the mixed-age cows from 10 September, on pasture locked up since 1 May. They are achieving 90–94% calving across all age classes.

Yearling steers are sold onfarm September or October at an average liveweight of 340 kg. Repeat buyers come back year after year.

Cull 1-yr heifers are sold store or are live-exported weighing an average of 280 kg. Cull in-calf cows are sold

46 Simmental NZ
ABOVE Simmental cows and calves with the damage wrought by Cyclone Gabrielle evident in the background.

store, while cull dry cows are killed at AFFCO, Wairoa.

All cattle receive three copper injections in a year. Before calving, cows have a 10-in-1 vaccine, Rotavec and Lepto vaccines. Heifers and bulls are vaccinated against BVD. Weaners are oral-drenched monthly until September. No cattle are drenched after 18 months of age.

Alongside the cattle Poko Poko run a number of sheep: 2,020 mixed-age ewes, 600 hoggets, 36 mixed-age rams and 200 mixed-sex lambs. Ram sires are selected for eczema tolerance, good wool, open heads and fertility. Conformation and feet are a high priority in this steep country. Russell says the rams need to look like “peas in a pod”. The aim is to achieve 185% scanned (twins and singles only).

The sheep are Te Whangai Romney based, and the Devers are now using Hinenui Romworth (CoopworthRomney) rams for eczema tolerance over the two-tooths. They get the ram 5 April (1:60) and scan 180%.

The mixed-age ewes are mated 10 April, also to Hinenui Romworths (1:60 and scan 185%). They weaned

lambs 15 December, averaging 26 kg. Five hundred ram lambs were sold store 15 December, the rest were fattened and gone by 1 April.

Turiroa Tiger rams (SuffolkSouthdown) were used as terminal sires over 520 five-year-old ewes 20 March (1:70). The first pick of 200 lambs went to AFFCO on 30 November at 18 kg, and 600 weighing 29 kg and over, were sold store.

Turiroa Tigers also covered the 600 hoggets 1 May (1:50). They achieved 70% lambing and were weaned midJanuary.

“Mother Nature plays a big part in our lambing percentages up here,” says Russell. “We’ve been lucky the past three years with good seasons. To close the gap between scanning and lambing we are working on even better feed management and use our most sheltered paddocks.”

Because the main flock lambs September, the tightest time for feed is late September to early October. The 2,020 ewes wintered are rotated in three mobs, the tail-end drafted off frequently.

The steep hills of the farm require mustering on horseback. The Devers have bred and ridden horses at Poko Poko for two generations. They like a forward-moving, fast-walking horse, no bigger than 14.2 to 15 hands high. Naturally all three Dever children rode on the farm from a young age. Jack and Milly competed and always had a ready full-sized pony for showjumping. When Tom moved to Fernside Station recently for his stock manager job, he took three horses with him to break in.

As a youngster Tom also trained and showed Simmental cattle in the Hoof and Hook competition, beginning in primary school, halter breaking and training them to lead in the show ring before farewelling them on the truck for the on-the-hook part of the competition.

Russell shoes his own horses. The pumice soils wear the horses’ feet, necessitating shoes, notwithstanding extra grip being needed on the steep terrain. Milly and Tom have learnt to do the same, Milly being taught how to hot-shoe at the Northern Territory station she has been working on.

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ABOVE Russell is mustering on a station-bred pony belonging to daughter Milly, and hunted by Milly’s grandad, Graeme Williamson. Graeme, aged 83, together with Margot’s mum Denise, not only inspired the change to Simmentals – they also farm-sit when Margot and Russell go away. Graeme is an active member of the Hawke’s Bay Hunt. It’s Russell’s job to keep the pony in-work and fit outside of hunting season.

Margot’s hobby-that-becamea-business is chocolate making, and she has a certified, climatecontrolled kitchen in the converted shearers’ quarters adjacent to the house. Educating the three children necessitated boarding school, and it was by selling chocolates at markets, fetes, and online that “enabled us to actually have three children away at school”.

Margot says the biggest challenges in recent years have been droughts, cyclones, weeds and re-growth scrub, and of course the variability of stock prices.

The Devers are fencing off 10ha of steep land adjacent to the Waikaretaheke River, that runs along their boundary. The area will be planted in natives with the assistance of the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council.

Poko Poko Station has an environmental plan and is part of the Beef + Lamb NZ farm survey in the category Eastern North Island Class 3 – hard hill country. The survey allows farmers to benchmark their financial performance against other similar farms, and showed the Devers they were “right on track”.

“We want to run a financially stable business with increased profitability despite these trying times of low stock prices and high interest rates.”

Looking to the future, in the short term the Devers would like to reduce animal health expenditure and reduce debt. “We want to run a financially stable business with increased profitability despite these trying times of low stock prices and high interest rates. We have a great relationship with our bank manager, accountant and stock agent and consider them part of our business team.”

Environmental fencing is already complete along waterways adjacent to the productive flats. There is 50 ha of regenerating kānuka forest on the farm that doesn’t qualify for the ETS as it was in existence prior to 1999.

Russell adds he would like to get on top of scrub and weeds, which got away thanks to the cyclone and other summer storms, and replace old existing fences. “Ultimately, satisfaction comes from producing high-quality meat and wool.”

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ABOVE The characteristics the Devers seek in Simmental sires are good temperament, conformation, colour and pigmentation, EBVs and scrotum size.
simmental.co.nz 49 Onfarm Auction May 27th, 11 am 488 Mangaotaki Road, Piopio Andrew and Tracey Neal 027 366 5514 potawa488@gmail.com

FROM THE ARCHIVES

From newspaper cuttings to Simmental memorabilia and AGM documentation, we have dived deep into the archives to share a snapshot of Simmental history.

Tuesday 3

1977

May – Simmental half-bred cows with calves at foot are pictured at Rissington Station alongside an article celebrating the first commercial sale of Simmental stock being conducted in New Zealand the following day, Wednesday 4 May 1977 at Stortford Lodge Saleyards. It was the first time stock at In Pictures – the 1976 AGM of the New Zealand Simmental Breeders Association. 3. Weighing 100 lb at birth, this calf made history as the first purebred Simmental to be born in South Canterbury. 4. & 5. A sample of 1978 news releases celebrating the success of Shouting the success of Simmentals from the rooftop in this half-page newspaper advert from The Daily A world record price was set when this Simmental heifer was sold at public auction at Levels, near Timaru. 9. In 1999 former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser was ordered to pay $500,000 in damages after his crowd-shy Simmental bull made a beeline for his mates rather than stay in the sale ring.
1 2 3 4 6 5 7 8 9 50 Simmental NZ
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Gisborne Waihirere Ormond Waipaoa Te Karaka 4557 Matawai Rd Ngatapa Patutahi 2
SIMMENTAL.CO.NZ
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