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BACKING FARMERS

Shedding time Taumarunui's Graham and Karianne Wills’ switch to Wiltshires will reduce labour costs and allow flexible management p44

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Animal health

Ram buying

Successful weaning

What's your plan?

December 2020

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For nearly 80 years we’ve been making world leading sheep vaccines, right here in New Zealand. Kiwi farmers rely on our vaccines because they trust them to protect their stock, help increase productivity and boost farm income. And now we’re proud to add Multine® B12 Selenised to our range – with an optimum 2mg dose of selenium for supplementation of lambs from tailing. Our extensive range means we’ve got all your clostridial needs covered. Available from leading veterinary clinics & retailers.

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EDITOR’S NOTE

Recession an opportunity

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s the recession deepens, final year high school and university students will be desperate for work. Companies allied to farming could take on casual labour over the summer or interns for several months to give them work experience. Dunedin’s AbacusBio has taken on 11 graduates this year for 10-14 weeks. Managing director Anna Campbell (p25) challenges other companies to do likewise. Why can’t bigger, nationwide companies take on 30 or more interns? They could be employed to help farmers with problems such as understanding how to operate accounting, farm management and environmental software programmes. Students may lack the skills for many jobs on the farms and there are only so many times a mob of sheep need moving. However, what about jobs on the ‘must do one day’ list. Health and safety will always be a concern, but it can be managed. I know of farmers who take on students and even put them through courses such as chainsaw safety and crutching/shearing. Aussie farmers are reported to be employing many people from the cities. One with a large cropping and livestock operation offered 60 jobs. Apparently airline pilots make good combine drivers. A townie friend of mine who had trouble finding a job in the late 1980s, always speaks fondly of the one and only time he worked on a farm. It was hard

work at times, but he had a good employer. The job was not without incident. He and another worker were asked to shoot a horse which they did, but unfortunately next to a fence. They spent the rest of the week repairing the fence. My friend is a strong advocate of farming. In the 1980s companies like Watties employed a lot of students over the summer break for harvesting and processing peas. Us farm boys were in demand for the field staff but Watties still needed drivers from town who got their first taste of farming. Most townies tended to go into the factory. It was long hours, night shift as well, but the pay was great and we had a lot of laughs especially with the permanent staff. Students can bring vitality, energy and fresh thinking to a business which in return teaches skills, pays wages and introduces them to the world of agriculture. It is a chance for farming to win the hearts and souls of citizens who may be future decisionmakers.

Terry Brosnahan Got any feedback? Contact the editor: terry.brosnahan@nzfarmlife.co.nz or call 03 471 5272 @CountryWideEd

Mum’s the word Improving lamb survival is our number one objective. Maternal instinct is a vital component in reducing lamb wastage.

The 2020 tagging team, Kate, Samuel, Olly and Luke

At Wairere we tag 7000 lambs at birth every year. A team on horseback undertakes that work. Another 1500 hogget lambs are recorded by DNA parentage. Tagging at birth provides the opportunity to observe, test and select for strong maternal instinct.

Wairere, making your sheepfarming easier and more profitable

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Contents Photo: FMG

BOUNDARIES 8 9

Half-hearted on water The lost sheep

HOME BLOCK 10 11 12 13 14

Chris Biddles has a few words of thanks for Winston Paul Burt is feeling his age when out shepherding Spring snow hits Suzie Corboy’s lambing figures Nick Loughnan reckons we have much to be thankful for Mark Chamberlain has great expectations

BUSINESS 16 19 21 22 24 25 26

Primary exports to lead recovery More profit, less risk Obituary: Grant McMillan The meaning of being a ‘co-operative’ Going online for work and workers Anna Campbell lays down a challenge Beef + Lamb NZ sets out environmental regulation timeline

WOOL 28 Opportunity knocks for strong wool 31 Contracts give certainty for buyers, sellers 33 Produce products consumers want

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Focusing on forages

MORE p34

MORE p80

LIVESTOCK

Wool or meat – A bet each way?

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34 38 40 44 52 54 58 61

Focusing on forages Tips from top performers Wool or meat – A bet each way? Wiltshires get the nod Weaning for a successful tupping Wean earlier and heavier Ram buying - what’s your genetic plan? Stock Check: Farming’s sustainable gains

Otago Regional Council seeks collaboration

poorly marketed

DEER FARMER 62 Looking back and forward 64 Hopes pinned on Covid vaccine for recovery

DOG FOOD GUIDE 65 Caring for their mates 69 A puppy’s nutritional needs Dog food guide

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CROP & FORAGE 74 Feeding’s impact on profit and condition

ENVIRONMENT OUR COVER: With wool worth so little, King Country farmers Graham and Karianne Wills decided to try fleece-shedding Wiltshires. Photo: Emma McCarthy.

78 Concern over stock exclusion rules 80 Otago Regional Council seeks collaboration

YOUNG COUNTRY 82 Selling stock takes good relationships

COMMUNITY NEXT ISSUE: JANUARY 2021 • A Non-family succession: A farming couple have used equity partnerships to grow the business and help others into farming. • Taking ownership: How water catchment groups are front-footing the new freshwater regulations. • Expanding the business: A farm manager has used new forages to lift profitability, taken on a stud and a stock handling business opportunity.

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84 A whole new wilderness 86 Zoom without the gloom 87 Selling the fine wool story

SOLUTIONS 88 Answering farmers’ needs

FARMING IN FOCUS 90 More photos from Country-Wide

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BOUNDARIES SLIPPERY BUGGER

“Mr Parker you’re hurting me”

“Trust me on freshwater rules!"

NZ IN THE GREEN ON METHANE MAP

Half-hearted on water

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wo aspects have been most noticeable about the Government’s essential freshwater reforms. The first is a lack of detail and the second the absence of ministers or officials visiting the regions to explain the policy. For a policy that will arguably have the greatest impact on farming in a generation, the effort to explain and convince those it will affect of its merits, can be described as half-hearted at best. Despite continued widespread condemnation more than two months after its release, there has been little effort by ministers and officials to meet and try to appease those it will most affect. This is especially true of the policy’s architect, environment minister David Parker. His failure to front farmers and most farming media can only be described as shameful. His ministry officials have been equally woeful in providing

clarity, failing to meet with farmers and shying away from media questions, instead directing journalists to hundreds of pages of policy to find answers. To be fair, in recent weeks the MFE has held webinars but these have been little more than a regurgitation of the policy, with limited questions and no interaction. Scheduled to run for one hour, surprisingly the webinar on intensive winter grazing only went for less than 45 minutes, with many questions unanswered. Officials will be able to tick the consultation box, but in reality, they are leaving farmers angry, frustrated and confused. This is totally unacceptable and leads to the conclusion that ministers and ministry officials either lack belief in the policy or have so little understanding of its implications that they cannot answer legitimate questions from those it will impact on the most.

When Russia was under communism, a man decides he JOKE wants to buy a car. He approaches a car dealer and asks

to buy the car, to which the dealer responds: ‘You know there is a 10-year waiting list?’ The man answers ‘okay’ and after some time agrees to buy the car. He pays for the car in advance, and just before he leaves he asks the dealer, ‘do I pick the car up in the morning or afternoon?’ ‘It’s 10 years away, what does it matter?’ ‘Because the plumber is coming in the morning’.

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Despite all our self-inflicted negative press about agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, and in particular methane, New Zealand shows up as green on a newly released global map of atmospheric methane emissions. The map, produced by Canada’s GHGSat, Montreal, uses measurements taken from space, updated weekly. In late October, the worst hotspots (red) were China, inland India, Pakistan, the Middle East and Sahara. Rainforests show up blue, indicating the lowest methane concentrations. The BBC reported that GHGSat hopes the map will spark a much wider discussion about methane emissions and their greenhouse effect.

Secret Lives of Stencils is an exhibition that celebrates the life and 150-year history of the New Zealand wool bale stencil. The exhibition, which opened at Totara Estate near Oamaru in mid-November, tells the story and history of wool bale stencils in a series of interpretation panels, and photos of objects from iconic NZ sheep stations. “Many Kiwis will be familiar with stencil letters used by sheep farmers to mark their wool bales when they sent their wool by ship to British sales,” says Dr Annette O’Sullivan of Massey University School of Design, who undertook the research, design, and photography for the exhibition. “Marks that were stencilled on wool bales represented the personal identity of the original owners and were used in branding sheep stations. More recently they have come to represent rural New Zealand identity.” The exhibition will tour the country once it finishes its inaugural season at Totara Estate.

MAKING THEIR MARK

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December 2020


THE LOST SHEEP Pull the wool from your eyes Look locally, the answer lies across the paddock, in the shed. Quickly, before the last sheep’s led to slaughter at the Alliance meek as a lamb, without defiance. A dollar a kilo, too scant to restore, too low to keep the wolf from the door. Too late, the world will realise The last sheep’s gone, wool’s demise. Yesterday’s cream of the crop, Wool industry for the chop. Lose a sustainable resource? A world without wool? There must be recourse... But wait! Knitters are up in arms! No fleece to spin, no source for yarns. Needles crossed, carders in hand, they ply their message, yarn-bomb the land. Soon shearers gather, handpieces raised Demanding policy be re-appraised. Farmers block roads with four-wheel bikes, Battle opinion, gain Facebook likes. Herd their mobs to mob the steps of Parliament, joined by reps of Agriculture, Fibre and Food, growing support, charging the mood. Schoolkids emerge in wool uniform advocating product reform. “Replace plastic with a product that lasts. Meet UN goals, climate forecasts. Make carpets, blankets, insulation. Give wool-growers compensation!” Wool kept us warm, saved our mental health through Lockdown, and could lead to wealth with R&D, targets, investment, let’s seek production reassessment. Buy wool! Grow New Zealand’s flock. Increase our national woolly stock. ‘Wild and woolly’, an NZ campaign, Eco plus, economic gain. Peak sheep in nineteen eighty-two Now five per person, way too few. Under the weather, short of assets? Wool should be a vital facet to aid our regions in recovery, Spin a wool-based rediscovery. No more our family’s black sheep Wool should peak, a resource to keep. Our lost sheep found, rejoice together, Each lamb is precious, each ewe, each wether. Shear joy! For work and for pleasure, Wool – New Zealand’s national treasure. – Aparima College teacher Lynne Grove, Riverton, Southland. More on strong wool p28.

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December 2020

SCIENCE SNIPPET BREEDING BREAKTHROUGH Sperm from elite sires could become much more widely available in future thanks to a breakthrough in breeding technology by a team of United States and United Kingdom scientists working at Edinburgh University’s Roslin Institute. They’ve shown surrogate male pigs, goats and mice, gene-edited to be sterile, can produce viable sperm from a same-species donor sire when stem cells from the donor are implanted in the surrogate’s testes. The work, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) of the US, also showed for the first time that cattle could be sterilised by the same gene editing technique, suggesting surrogate bulls could be used to replicate elite bovine semen too. “With this technology we can get better dissemination of desirable traits and improve the efficiency of food production,” said Washington State University’s Professor Jon Oatley, one of the team involved in the work.

BEDTIME READING Those familiar with the tribulations of putting young children to bed know only too well that it is also prime time for little ones to find ways to extend their bedtime. We applaud 22-month-old Sophie Foley’s commitment to Country-Wide, the August issue in particular. Sophie’s mum Emma Foley says Sophie insists they read the magazine every night at bedtime. What started as a quick look at Sophie’s photo at the back of the magazine has now extended to studying every one of the 92 pages, pointing out animals and machinery and making the appropriate noises. We haven’t heard what happened when Sophie got her hands on the 188-page Country-Wide Sheep issue. Perhaps Dad read it to her.

NEW MARKET FOR LUCERNE? Lucerne, or “God’s own crop” as a certain Lincoln University professor sometimes calls it, is being trialled as aquaculture feed in the United States as researchers seek alternatives to fishmeal. The USDA Agricultural Research Service says with crude protein of 15-22% and high vitamin and mineral content, lucerne-based feeds could cut dependence on wild-caught small forage fish. They are the main protein source for the burgeoning aquafeed market that’s already worth US$133.5 billion/year. ARS notes aquaculture is the fastest-growing food industry globally with US$1.37b/year sales in the US alone. Soy, barley and algae-based feeds are also being tested but as a legume lucerne has ecosystem advantages including converting atmospheric nitrogen into forms other crops can use, anchoring soil, storing carbon, controlling weeds and, when flowering, feeding wild and domesticated bees, says ARS.

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HOME BLOCK | COLUMN

A few words for Winston Chris Biddles has a few words of thanks for a famous departing member of parliament.

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hank you Winston, thank you so much. You have given us so much and you deserve the thanks because you have been directly or indirectly responsible for a considerable amount that we have received and will continue to receive. Thanks for David P, thanks for Eugenia S - two people I believe have had considerable (negative) influence on farming in recent years and will continue to do so in future years. Thankfully, the latter may have a little less influence. You have given us at least six years of a Labour Government that has rushed some very negative legislation affecting farmers and is likely to continue to reward many at the expense of those who create wealth for our country. Thanks Winston. Three years ago, you chose to go with a Labour party that received 35.79% of the vote. You rejected National who achieved 46.03% of the vote. Your party had 7.5% of the vote. I can only surmise you chose Labour and the Greens over National because you would have more influence over an inexperienced group compared to the politically seasoned National Party. You are now gone but you TE KOPURU have secured a Labour-led country for at least six years. Thanks Winston. Three years ago, I was not too worried because I knew that this very strong National party with very good leadership would be such an influential opposition compared to a Labour, NZ First, Greens crowd with very little experience. How wrong was I? Within months the strong National leadership had mostly gone. We all know the rest, but thanks Winston! The above is a little tongue in cheek

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but I believe reasonably accurate. Is this the end of Winston as a political influence. It would be a brave person to say it is. If it is the end of his political career it is a shame that he finishes a remarkable career with a defeat. Thanks Winston, because despite the above you have given us some positive outcomes. We have been entertained by you for over 40 years. In 2015 when you stood for Northland and won in the by-election you called the National Party to account for the 50-plus years that they had taken provincial NZ for granted, and particularly Northland that has been extremely neglected because we always voted blue. Thanks, Winston for the Provincial Growth Fund. The PGF has been a wonderful thing for provincial NZ even though in some cases it would appear that it has lacked good process and accountability. In most cases I am sure it will have an on-going benefit. Thanks Winston. As I write this in early November, we are enjoying some steady rain. Like so much of the country we have had an absolute crap late winter and early spring. We have had some good days of warm drizzle spread over the last two weeks and at last have some decent growth. In September we had a very successful sale and full clearance of 99 yearling Angus bulls. Mating is well under way, with our 15-month heifers no longer with the bulls. They have had their 28 days’ exposure to a bull. For an update on my recovery, I need far more space than I am allowed! A month ago, I had my seventh surgery since the accident. A five-hour operation on my ankle where a metal plate was removed (partly because as we all suspected, I had a screw loose!). Bone was cut out and replaced with

On the mend, hopefully.

steel plates and pins. That bone was ground up and with some donor bone a cement was made and the ankle fused. I have eight weeks non-weight-bearing in a cast. Just to be a smart arse and piss people off, I chose a pink cast, that worked! I then have four weeks in a moon boot. It is expected that after about six months I will be able to walk with very little pain and be able to walk and work far more easily. Hopefully this might be my last surgery but that may be dependent on no bone death in the future. I am doing well, getting around on a little knee scooter and crutches. All this because of one dumb arse decision, made because I was extremely fatigued. Take care farmers and recognise the dangers of getting over-tired and fatigued.

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The ewe was making the same noises I heard Louise make when our children were born (and she recovered) so I took that as a good sign.

How would the PM fare on a lambing beat on Paul Burt’s farm?

Shepherding, when I’m 64 Paul Burt is feeling his age when he gets out on the hills at lambing.

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’m 64 and my heading dog is 63. We were watching a ewe standing awkwardly on a steep face above a dirty gully. She was trying to lamb but with only one foot showing I doubted she would cope on her own. We needed to catch her. At 64 you can’t just do it, you need a plan. A shepherd's crook is essential but I had temporarily misplaced mine… agility isn’t the only thing that deserts you at 64. There was a whiff on the cool October breeze, at least about me, and I remembered where I had left the crook. Earlier that morning I had lambed a hogget with lambs that had been long dead inside her. That must be one of the most unpleasant jobs of shepherding as the state of decomposition meant the second lamb didn’t come out whole. The extreme thing, apart from the smell is that that hogget will most likely survive. It’s a marvel that a mammal’s physiology can contain that level of infection and not let the body succumb. The crook was left at the holding yard two paddocks away and getting the ewe there was my only chance of catching her without needing reconstructive surgery. At 64 you have to be mindful of your

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December 2020

body and my only PPE consists of a PLB in case the SHTF. I talked to the dog to make sure neither of us did anything stupid. Slowly, I walked the thankfully co-operating ewe around the sidling, through her mates with newborns, down a ridge, along a flat and into the yard. Quite often when animals are in trouble they seem to sense you are trying to help them and their flight response is not as strong as usual. As with this ewe, I’ve more than once walked a cow with a stuck calf a kilometre to a yard with no bother. Once in the yard and with a bit of fancy leg work (from the one leg still capable of fancy work) I had the ewe caught and on her side. Thankfully I saw a little nose and tongue sticking out above the protruding foot. Even if the other front leg was backwards I knew I had a good chance of lambing her successfully. Unsuccessful lambing is always distressing because if the pelvic opening is too small the lamb has to be sacrificed for the life of the ewe. When I first saw the ewe her waters

had just broken which is a good sign she hadn’t been contracting for too long and the lamb would be alive. She was marked as a single bearing ewe and being late in the mating period the lamb was well developed and a tight fit. Its ankles were too slippery to get enough grip but with the help of a short piece of cord and some effort the front legs and head were soon out to the shoulders. The ewe was making the same noises I heard Louise make when our children were born (and she recovered) so I took that as a good sign. A little more downward pressure and a twist and out flopped a large ram lamb, yellow with mucus and membrane. I cleared his mouth and nose and his chest heaved and heaved again. A few blinks and still eyes came to life. I draped him over his mothers’ nose and made my exit, this time with the crook. I returned half an hour later and watched a miracle of natural selection… the suckling instinct. The lamb was wobbly on his feet but at the right end of the ewe and she stood MATATA for him. He nuzzled her belly, her leg and finally under her flank and found a teat. I’ve read that biology is all chemical signals from the brain. However it is explained, I find it incredible that in five months two cells can develop into this infinitely complicated new creature with survival instructions already imprinted. Farming is a fascinating life and as you get older you are more inclined (or forced) to slow down and appreciate it. I’m 64 but all going well I’ll be 65 next year and Jacinda will begin sending me some pocket money. I might drop her a line and say don’t bother paying me over lambing, just come down and help out with the odd sheep that needs attention. Time will tell if she can catch a tricky ewe on a steep sidling above a dirty gully.

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Suzie is working from 7pm on December 24 to 7am on Christmas Day.

Sheep graze on the Corboys’ farm.

Snow hits tailing figures Spring snow caught Suzie Corboy while the ewes were lambing on her Catlins farm.

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fter my last column and mentioning the lack of snow, I will avoid discussing the weather this time, as all of us in the Catlins know that the lack of winter snow was made up for by spring snow, catching most of us while we were lambing. As of mid-November, when writing this, our feed levels are looking better than normal at this time of year. However, with ground being taken out of pasture for growing winter crops, and last year's crop paddocks still not growing grass, these feed levels can change very quickly as a result of a cold week, or no rain. This farm needs regular rain, and if it doesn’t rain for a week we start to get worried! Most of the lambs from the ewes have now been tailed, and at present it is not looking very promising that we will achieve 150%, partly due to the forementioned snow, and maybe a few too many ewe deaths. I used to record ewe deaths as it was always difficult to believe we lost so

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many ewes over the year, but when you start writing it down you realise that the figures for deaths at the end of the year are actually close to reality. This result is disappointing as the ewes scanned 197%, so there are a lot of lamb losses. We haven’t started tailing the hoggets’ lambs, but are optimistic we will come close to our best lambing ever in hoggets. Hopefully close to the elusive for us, 100%, as they scanned a record 144%, and for once didn’t get much bad weather while they were lambing. OWAKA We didn’t have to lamb many hoggets either, so that is pleasing. It is a pleasant sight on a sunny day to see a fat hogget lying in plenty of grass, with two healthy lambs snuggled up to her. This year for the last few weeks of moving break fences for cattle on fodderbeet and while checking calving heifers and going around the triplet ewes, (we don’t check many twin ewes as they are mostly on the hill). I started listening to audio books that I

had downloaded on to my phone. I don’t know why I didn’t start doing it earlier in the winter. It is rare for me to read a book, as I always read far too late into the night when I get a good book, therefore missing out on sleep, and I am quite a slow reader, but listening to books means I can do two things at once. We had 147 heifers in calf this year, and calved more than 10%, which at the time felt like far too many. Most of the heifers we had to calve were Simmental and Charolais X, and some were very large boned. These heifers were bought as weaned calves, so we don’t know their parentage, but the heifers themselves were big, well fed. Not sure if we can do anything different next year. We finished calving with about 90% calves from in-calf heifers. At least the dry heifers can still be killed on the heifer schedule, so all is not lost. At the beginning of December my ambulance roster changes to two days, two nights, 12 off from the current two days on, six days off. This will need a bit of trial and error to figure out what works for me in terms of when to sleep, but I am looking forward to the new roster. I am working from 7pm on December 24 to 7am on Christmas Day so we won’t be going to my parents at Wellington this year, which is disappointing as dad is a great cook, and we always get very well overfed. I hope you all have a great festive season when it arrives, and make sure you take some time off to relax and enjoy a bit of R&R.

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A flowering coastal pohutukawa.

Our time to give thanks While traditional Thanksgiving has been a hollow event in the United States, Nick Loughnan reckons we have much to be thankful for here in New Zealand.

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s an extraordinary year draws to a close, we in New Zealand have so many reasons to feel grateful. We are one of the few countries on the planet to have asserted a credible level of control over Covid-19, our economy has weathered a substantial check without too much collateral damage, and our political system of democracy has reflected the wishes of our nation’s majority at our recent election. We have a lot to give thanks for. Meanwhile, 2020’s Thanksgiving in the United States has been a hollow event. Falling on the fourth Thursday of November, it has long been a national holiday where families have traditionally gathered to celebrate kinship and all that is wholesome about the American way of life. But this year sees that nation finding so little to celebrate, amongst widespread economic hardship, sickness and death. I remember America’s Thanksgiving for rather different reasons. 15 years ago, we were growing export peonies in a couple of our paddocks, and the most lucrative blooms to grow were a large

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December 2020

white variety, especially when they could reach the US by air freight in time for Thanksgiving Day. At that same time 15 years ago, America was waking up to the decadelong mess it had made in Iraq by overthrowing Saddam Hussein’s regime. This conflict was simply following an historic pattern that America had benefited from since World War 1. ALEXANDRA The supplying of armaments and weaponry has always been highly profitable for the US, and the international contracts awarded to American companies in rebuilding infrastructure destroyed through warfare have been equally so. For most of the 20th century, world conflicts have underpinned so much of America’s economic power base. In its 242 year history as a nation, it has only enjoyed 16 years of peace, making it the most combative nation in the history of the planet. But just as the British ruled the 19th century, France the 18th, the Dutch in

the 17th, and Spain in the 16th, we are watching America slide from its 20th century superpower status, and with startling speed. There is a socially corrosive inequality within it where its three wealthiest men own more than 160 million of their poorest countrymen. Their children are compulsive screen watchers, becoming ever less active and contributing to an alarming childhood obesity epidemic. Americans consume two thirds of the world’s antidepressant drug supply, and opioid prescription drugs are the leading cause of death for their under 50s. However, it is Covid which has finally tipped America over. It’s current administration simply failed to react to the threat, and the price for this lax strategy is now doubly high. Economic survival for businesses and households is perilously difficult, while the odds of biological survival for older Americans in the face of this raging pandemic aren’t encouraging. America’s national debt is more than US$26 trillion – that’s 26 thousand billion dollars, and yet they can’t afford to provide basic health care for anyone who doesn’t have expensive medical insurance. Their population, now so poorly led, sadly divided and frighteningly well armed, has the appearance of being capable of descending into widespread civil strife. And how does that impact on Nick in Central Otago? He’s been trying to buy his usual 5000 round ‘brick’ of .22 ammunition for his ongoing war on rabbits. And for three months it has been virtually unobtainable, because the American manufacturers cannot keep pace with the demand from within their own country, let alone trying to export to the rest of the world. So let us surely give thanks for our place on the planet. As December leads us towards Christmas, the flowering coastal pohutukawas, family gatherings, a relatively robust economy, stable democracy and lawful political leadership, we know we are very fortunate. And the whole world it seems now wants to come and live here for a myriad of very ordinary reasons. Enjoy it all. Count yourselves lucky!

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HOME BLOCK | COLUMN

“I know the leadership of these bodies must walk a fine line but at times they are softer than Liberace in the Playboy mansion.”

The most common tractor was either red or green... The irony was not lost on me.

Great expectations Sharemilker Mark Chamberlain believes farmers will fail in their fight against oppressive legislation like the freshwater rules unless they become united.

G

reat expectations suit me just fine. It is just that other people always expect greater. Life being a humble sharemilker is no walk in the park. At times, having a social standing in the community slightly better than a used car salesman or being treated by some as a chattel to the farm. We also have a daily appraisal system that is shared with the farm owner, called the milk docket. It contains a lot of information along with month-to-date and season-to-date tallies of production. The season is, every day, being compared to the previous, which is by now well and truly in the rear vision mirror. So after two consecutive record seasons on this farm, expectations from some are for a third. This season, yet again, got off to a horrible start. A lethargic mating last season coupled with the use of sexed semen (lower conception rate) and horrendous weather thrown in just when the herd was ramping up; has got us on the back foot.

14 

The snow of late September was like nothing I have seen before; severe icy winds with a good dump of snow resulting in a wind chill factor that would rival my wife’s frostiest stare, the morning after a big night out. The herd’s peak milk turning up a week late in the first week of mating, just goes to show that the girls have spent too many days standing in the corners of paddocks, GORE sheltering from the cold. We do our best to care for them, they just had other priorities for a few days and production is not one of them. As we all know, it is not over till it is over and things are on the up, so fingers crossed. At present, I have little to no expectations of anything great from the intellectual vacuum that exists in Wellington. Great leaders (or any of substance) should look to unite the country after an election, come together and heal. Unfortunately, with the freshwater legislation, we are being constantly told to heel.

In a time when minority groups are getting more and more say and are imposing their will, farmers have themselves become a minority group – with little say. Our levy bodies are, at times, siloed and not singing from the same hymn sheet. I know the leadership of these bodies must walk a fine line but at times, they are softer than Liberace in the Playboy mansion. I am getting the impression that, at times, Beef and (mint) Lamb are trying to throw us dairy farmers under the proverbial bus with the clever old, “look over there, there’s nothing to see here” tactic. Or that is the perception anyway which can sometimes, as you know, be reality. Recently I have ticked two items off the bucket list. I have turned into quite the activist. Before the election I attended a tractor protest rally in Gore in, wait for it, an unregistered tractor. It was quite heartening to see the local shoppers treating it much like a Santa Parade, coming out on to the street to wave and cheer. On a side note, the most common tractor was either red or green… The irony was not lost on me. Just last night I attended the Agricultural Action Group meeting at a local hall. A lot of protest ideas were discussed, a couple that Guy Fawkes would be proud of. You can say what you like about some peoples’ political views, at least this group is doing something – which is better than nothing. Ultimately, we will fail in our fight as farmers - because we are not united. Down here, the winter grazing prices that are being bandied about are laughable. It smacks of opportunism and greed. We will fail. And that just leaves the fish-heads sitting around a table deciding our future. And for that, my expectations… are not so great.

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December 2020


Don’t let anything cloud your judgement

No matter what Mother Nature decides to throw at New Zealand, the new upgrade to LIC’s SPACE™ (Satellite Pasture and Coverage Evaluation) program means it can now predict pasture growth – even on the cloudiest of days. The LIC SPACE satellites pass over New Zealand every day, taking images and sending reports direct to your device. SPACE can now also calculate grass growth for areas covered by cloud or shadow using a Pasture Growth Forecasting Model based on local growing conditions and soil characteristics. So there are less gaps in your data reporting.

Contact the LIC SPACE team for more information or visit lic.co.nz/space DairyNZ, B+LNZ and the Ministry for Primary Industries through the Primary Growth Partnership have jointly funded the Pasture Growth Forecasting Model to help farmers increase profitability.

KINGST_1246_CW

There's always room for improvement

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December 2020

15


BUSINESS | ECONOMY

NZ needs to continue to produce goods essential to meeting global market demand at all times, not just the good times.

Primary exports to lead recovery The primary sector’s contribution to the country is far more important than other sectors including tourism because exports will bring wealth and economic recovery from Covid-19. Economist Ray Macleod explains why.

L

et’s be clear about three things. The primary industry sector dwarfs the tourism sector. Its supply line to its markets is and will remain far more robust than that of the tourism sector. Primary industries will remain the most important group in the NZ economy and will lead our recovery, post Covid-19. Forget the comparisons within the gross domestic product (GDP) numbers, what matters is export receipts. Exports drive our wealth growth and our ability to service our domestic and consumptive needs efficiently, in the modern world. Tourism has been touted as our biggest export earner. It was not, never was, and never will be. Statistically a case for such a claim can be made, but the real money was always on the primary sector. Such claims were often supported by creatively dividing the primary sector into its contributing component parts and then giving

16 

unchallenged air to urban myths around the decreasing importance of the primary sector components, as a percentage of GDP. An examination of New Zealand economic history (John Singleton, Victoria University) suggests we needed access to the London capital market in the 19th century, to invest in enduring economic activities and early adoption of evolving technology, such as refrigeration - an economy-changing example. We still need access to those global capital markets. We cannot, economically, self-isolate.

VOYAGE TAPPED NEW WEALTH When the SS Dunedin successfully arrived in London in 1882, it opened up a new market and lifted NZ’s wealth. Refrigeration allowed NZ to leverage farm investment and enter the perishable commodity market. This was unavailable to NZ prior to refrigeration, just as aircraft provided the

means to feed the international tourism trade, refrigeration was the link to feed Great Britain’s workers. It provided a robust transport artery for sustainable economic growth. Unfortunately, every time the world or regional economies hiccup, such as the Asian Economic Crisis of the 1990s, tourism in NZ takes hits. It appears overly sensitive to economic and political instability, and threats to personal safety and welfare, more so than the ever increasing global demand for quality food sources. The graphic illustration of international visitor arrival growth in Figure 1 shows just how strong it was as airfares got relatively cheap and vast numbers of people in the Asian middle class prospered. The impact of the Asian Financial Crisis (1997 to 1999) and the Global Financial Crisis (2008 to 2013) is evident and although significant in tourism terms at the time, will bear no resemblance to the

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Table 1: Overseas visitor arrivals - Travel by purpose and country of last permanent residence Year ended August 2020 August month

Year ended August

Change from 2019 to 2020 Month

Year

2018

2019

2020

2018

2019

2020

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

Holiday/vacation

120,912

120,389

48

1,999,664

1,994,272

1,244,900

-120,341

-100.0

-749,372

-37.6

Visiting friends/relatives

67,472

64,747

1435

1,093,952

1,073,504

714,703

-63,312

-97.8

-358,801

-33.4

Business

26,176

31,097

423

300,192

322,712

184,533

-30,674

-98.6

-138,179

-42.8

Education

4976

5328

144

68,816

72,190

36,262

-5184

-97.3

-35,928

-49.8

Conference/convention

6448

6589

2

75,472

79,419

49,787

-6587

-100.0

-29,632

-37.3

Other

9184

13,680

949

127,776

147,107

95,859

-12,731

-93.1

-51,248

-34.8

10,944

9301

4841

130,112

208,798

98,035

-4460

-48.0

-110,763

-53.0

246,682

251,131

7,842

3,803,196

3,899,309

2,424,079

-243,289

-96.9

-1,475,230

-37.8

Category Travel purpose

Total

scale of the Covid tourism crisis. We are in for a rough ride. The impact of Covid on tourism is catastrophic. The Stats NZ returns for the year ended August 2020, as reported in Table 1, are staggering. International tourism has been wiped out. We will get a bounce, but when and by how much? Only 48 international visitors reached NZ in August 2020 compared to 120,389 in 2019. This equates to a $550 million revenue loss for the month, at the average spend of $4665/tourist. Based on last December’s figures tourism will forgo $2 billion in revenue for that month, this year. The primary sector and an external trade focus are musts for positive economic, welfare and health outcomes. Maybe even political stability. The data indicates almost half of NZs international arrivals in the 2019 year were not tourists, so how big is the international tourism trade in reality?

Figure 1: NZ International Arrivals - Monthly Winter off-peak

International arrivals, 000s

Not stated Source:(2)Stats NZ

Spring shoulder

Summer Peak

400

300

200

100

0

Jun

Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May 2014

2015

Figure 2: Growth of the frozen meat trade 1962-2001

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December 2020

Figure 3: International visitor arrivals to NZ Year ended March 1992-2020, 4.0

800

Millions

Tons (thousands)

NZ cannot afford an inward looking political system hooked on quantitative easing. Printing money is not a solution to combating the hit we are about to take socially and economically. Ultimately printing money is fool’s gold. Unemployment will rise and our taxation catchment will be increasingly polluted by a combination of unsustainable public spending, the increasing burden of inefficient local and central government, and the loss of economic opportunities.

2016

Source: International Travel and Migration, Statistics NZ

1000

PRINTING MONEY IS FOOL’S GOLD

Autumn shoulder

600 400

2.0 1.0

200 0

3.0

1962

1972

Source: teara.govt.nz

1982

1992

2002

0

1992

2006

2020

Source: Stats NZ

Continues

›› 17


The productive sector will ultimately be NZ’s salvation. With a growing global population, primary industries produce goods the world needs. Primary produce takes price hits and did so in the 1930s. That was when successive governments interfered in the economy by introducing import restrictions, leading to an extended period of poor investment signalling. This saw investment in industries unsuited to NZ conditions and its small domestic market. Investment which was unsustainable, and dragged the country into a long slow decline, in terms of world economic standings. In John Singleton’s words “Between 1938 and the 1980s, Latin American-style trade policies fostered the growth of a ramshackle manufacturing sector”. At the same time NZ pursued inward looking economic policies, hindering economic efficiency and flexibility. It forced unwanted and inferior goods on to the public. If we are serious about addressing poverty in NZ the answer lies with trade (read “Why poverty reduction rests on trade” – World Economic Forum Agenda: March 2019). We need to grow our share of the world economic pie, to create wealth for our citizens. This needs to be driven by the supply of goods that are sustainable, economically, socially and environmentally, and supported by a robust delivery system. One that, unlike tourism, functions in times of global uncertainty, as the primary sector does. NZ needs to continue to produce goods essential to meeting global market demand at all times, not just the good times. It is possible to establish an argument that the extent of our investment in tourism was unwise and unsustainable economically, at current levels. It is not the panacea the anti-primary industry activists would have us believe. Primary production is the main driver of our economy. Of our top 10 exports (October 4, 2020: www.worldstopexports. com, Daniel Workman) only one nonprimary sector activity, machinery including computers, makes it at No8, at US$1b. The rest, a staggering 72% of total export receipts are driven by primary sector production. Enduring external trade pays bills, grows wealth and secures a larger slice of

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Tourism has been touted as our biggest export earner. It was not, never was, and never will be.

Table 2: International tourism expenditure ($) compared with selected primary exports Year ended March 2016–19 - Stats NZ Selected primary exports vs tourism

2016

2017

2018

2019

International tourism

14,865,000,000

14,794,000,000

16,319,000,000

17,162,000,000

Dairy products, including casein

12,346,000,000

12,374,000,000

15,078,000,000

15,574,000,000

Meat and meat products

6,580,000,000

5,983,000,000

6,797,000,000

7,632,000,000

Wood and wood products

4,855,000,000

5,315,000,000

6,144,000,000

6,773,000,000

Fruit

2,362,000,000

2,758,000,000

2,648,000,000

3,294,000,000

Seafood

1,527,000,000

1,586,000,000

1,619,000,000

1,696,000,000

that world economic pie. Tourism as a sector is dwarfed by the primary sector (see Table 2). Add the numbers and “selected” primary exports are $27.67b. Now international tourism is gone. The world is still consuming our food and drinks, wearing our fibres and hides.

WORKFORCE NEEDS TO BE MOBILE How NZ proceeds from here is important. As a nation our labour force is relatively unproductive, with years of state support stifling initiative and drive. It has created a stationary workforce mentality that taxpayers support to stay local and immobile. That workforce needs to flow to areas of opportunity, job growth and productive need. Tourism is an industry of low wages whose fortunes go up and down with the world economic tide. It is not consistent, reliable and even environmentally unfriendly. Farming provides access to the most important global market there is, food. Technology and productivity, efficient transport and handling all contribute

to constant improvement. Organisations like Fish and Game have sliced and diced farming into its smallest component parts, for GDP comparative purposes. To divorce its influence upon industries that rely upon it, is disingenuous and shallow. Using GDP figures, ignoring export receipts and expressing the components as a percentage of GDP is a tool of political activism. Not having the workforce in place to harvest summer and autumn produce will be a major failure. International competitors will fill the vacuum and NZ will struggle to regain the confidence of markets. Selling domestic tourism as a substitute is not a sustainable response but simply a stirring of the money pot. The result will be public institutions shrinking from a lack of tax capital. Welfare issues will grow as we contemplate a rising falsehood that salvation lies, in varying degrees, on isolationism, tourism, tertiary education and social services. • Ray MacLeod is general manager of Landward Management, a Dunedin-based company.

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BUSINESS | PROFITABILITY

The Murrays have reduced the threat of TB reactor cattle.

More profit, less risk BY: JOANNA GRIGG

D

uring their term at the helm, owners Chid and Sue Murray have made giant strides in making the largely mountainlocked Bluff Station a less risky and more profitable place to farm. Since taking on full ownership of the Marlborough farm in the early 1980s from a group of family shareholders, they have invested in fences and tracks. This is no mean feat given the steep mountain faces, the broken plateaus, dense bush, mountain rivers and all of this a 40-minute drive over a farm track from the homestead at Kekerengu, north of Kaikoura. Continued investment in infrastructure to lift stock production, is underpinning succession. Diversification into honey has also helped cash flow. The volume of honey grown each year (35 tonnes) now almost matches wool weight off the 13,800ha station. A 35-year subdivision programme, using

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contract and in-house labour, has meant the four large run blocks in 1976 are now divided into 130. These range from 4ha to 300ha, divided with seven-wire fences (non-electric). “Five years ago I would have thought there wasn’t any land we could crop and now we have 150 hectares of tractorable land that has been developed as well,” Chid says. The Murrays have also reduced the threat of TB reactor cattle. A full-time pest control manager was employed and, in 1997, the Bluff herd came off movement control for the first time. After thousands of ferrets were trapped and possums culled by TB Free, the main herd at Coverham can now celebrate a C6 status. Residual infections in pests in the Muzzle/Clarence keep the Murrays on watch. “We are one test away from change and this has a large influence on stock policy,” Chid says. To reduce the risk of TB shutting down options and, in recognition of

improved pasture quality, cows gave way to 2500 Merino wethers in the late 1980s. Eventually these wethers were in turn phased out and replaced with ewes. When Merino lamb value increased from $25 to $100, even more ewes were added, bringing the tally to 9000 sheep; 45% of total stock units. The cow herd remains at 950 Angus/Hereford cows, with a policy to sell calves as weaners or at 12 to 16 months. The Murrays arranged with a hunter to shoot rabbits for free, with meat supplied to a pet food company. In one year alone 25,000 were shot and, in combination with the 2018-released Rabbit Haemorrhagic Virus, the Murrays believe rabbits are now at the lowest number since 1980. “This place was abandoned to rabbits in 1915, so it’s always going to be an ongoing issue.” This investment of energy and funds has meant the next generation of Murrays at Bluff Station, Hamish and Jess Murray, can now focus on increasing stock performance and, in turn, profitability.

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“Five years ago, we were struggling to find options for succession, as we just didn’t have the income,” Hamish says. “We developed a plan and invested $500,000, and then we were caught in the Marlborough/North Canterbury drought, which cost another significant amount as well.” “But we carried on.” Now they are seeing lifts in lamb weaning weights, ewe weaning weights and young stock growth – all creating more dollars at the end. When the opportunity came to buy their beekeeper’s hives in 2017, the Murrays took it up. Chid had been impressed with the amount of red and white clover on areas where hives had been placed. From 30 hives in the 1990’s to 400 in 2017, the business has now grown into 750 hives, employing two beekeepers plus some casual input from shepherds, when time allows. Within three years, what started as a diversification now matches the wool clip from 9000 Merinos. Despite price issues with honey (their 2020 honey remains unsold), the Murrays are optimistic about

TB remains a threat but it was bovine viral diarrhoea arriving in 2008 that had the most recent impact on cattle.

its future. Hamish’s approach is to produce more off existing pasture by improving pasture species, and support ineffective land to regenerate for honey. “Hives are a natural fit, providing real resilience to the business in a variable climate.”

“The cost to produce a kilogram of honey is about half that of wool but it’s been the infrastructure for wool and meat that’s allowed us to open up the place for bee hives.” Hamish and Jess are 50% partners in Bluff Station Ltd, which owns the stock and plant. They have three children under six; Lucy, Margot and Jonty. Hamish, Jess, Sue and Chid are directors on the Bluff Station advisory board which oversees the stock and plant business. It meets about four times a year to set and reflect on policies. Tony Jordan is the appointed independent chair on the advisory board and sets the agenda and, in Hamish’s, words, runs a quality meeting. The land titles are held in a family trust. Hamish’s sister Amanda is in a farm equity partnership in the Wairarapa and his other sister Brigit is a shareholder in a physiotherapy business in Christchurch. Hamish describes farm succession as underway and an ongoing focus for the family and the farm business.

• For more on Bluff Station see p54.

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December 2020


OBITUARY | GRANT MCMILLAN

Grant Leslie McMillan.

Tragedy on the farm BY: ROBERT CARTER

R

ight at the height of Covid 19, when it seemed that the world was never going to be the same again, one of our muchloved and respected local families suffered a tragedy. It has left them and the rest of us reeling from shock. Grant Leslie McMillan took his own life on Saturday, March 28, 2020. For everyone, particularly his family, Grant’s passing has left a huge gap and many unanswered questions. Grant and his wife Sandy were arguably one of the best and most capable farming couples in our district. They are a great family, with a well run farm and everything seemed fine, all things considered. Many of you will have noted the progress they have made on their Ongarue farm with infrastructure and

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December 2020

environmental improvements (see CountryWide April, 2019). Their most notable achievement though, is their flock of Wiltshire self shedding sheep, a great success story, if ever there was one. (Granty McMillandales, self shedding sheep!) To his friends and acquaintances, Grant was known as “Granty’, he is best described as a really good chap. Earnest, with a twinkle in his eye, and a kindly attitude, Grant seemed reasonably happy, at least to the rest of us looking on. In life, every now and then you cross the paths of great people, living good lives and doing a good job of everyday things And so it was with Grant and Sandy. I can’t remember not knowing Grant. Sandy I’ve known even longer as she grew up as part of the wider family of employees in an electrical firm I did my apprenticeship with many years ago. Our children went to high school with

theirs and from time to time there has always been some contact and friendly interaction. I remember Jason, their son, falling in love with an old Valiant car I had in a shed (1973 Regal V8). I decided to give it to Jason so he could get the pleasure of owning it and restoring it to better than it was when it was new. I think that Grant and I both had a lot of pleasure watching and admiring what Jason did with the car. (It is now beautifully restored by Jason who has become an artist in metal). So, during the lockdown, when I heard what had happened I was shocked to the core and still struggled with what had occurred. The hard part for all of us is that, if we had ever had any inkling that Grant needed support, we would have been there for him. Sadly, suicide is not like that, even close family members who are aware of depression or other issues do not always get the chance to divert the victim from the path they have chosen. The work done in the community by individuals and groups raising awareness of the issue needs to be supported by us all, as the pain and legacy from such a passing is a terrible burden. On the bright side though (if there is one) we can remember Grant for the type of person he was. He was a much loved husband, father and grandfather. Grant was one of the best feeders of animals I have ever known, a successful farmer and businessman; he did a good job of anything he took on. One of our mutual friends often said to me that “Grant could successfully farm anything he wanted to; mice, alpacas, buffalo, goats, sheep with no wool!” “He would do well with any species as he knows how to feed things!” Grant was an advocate of the “do it once and do it well” school of thought. Rest in peace Grant, know that we do miss you and in any minute of thought about you, we exercise a full range of emotions. To Sandy, Sarah and Todd, Jason and Aleisha and your little ones, know that we all love and admire you for your strength. May the good memories you have of Grant give you solace and peace.

21


BUSINESS | OPINION

A co-operative must be run as a business and needs an intergenerational strategic focus to match that of its members.

The meaning of being a ‘co-operative’ BY: NICOLA SHADBOLT

R

ecent announcements by Fonterra on how they will reward/penalise their owners for sustainability practices generated a range of responses including some saying they are not ‘being co-operative’. This raises the question of what does being co-operative really mean? The answer is, as with so many similar complex questions, that it depends! What might seem right in one cooperative will be greeted with scorn in another, it all depends on the history of each cooperative, the legislation they have evolved and exist under and the expectations of the owners that have built up over time. These differences were brought home to me when I was invited to a Co-operative Leaders’ workshop in Missouri just after I stepped off the Fonterra board in late 2018. Attendees came from a wide range of countries and as we worked together on Professor Mike Cook’s co-operative lifecycle framework it became obvious that

22 

there were quite different ‘co-operative’ their legislation members control their cosystems in place. operative through a one member/one vote For example, one of the European cosystem, so they were very critical of votes operatives not only deducted differential proportionate to participation (wet shares) freight charges they also had a different that Fonterra has, and argued that it did price for the milk that supplied their not enable democratic control. premium products to that used for the In the co-operative business research lower-priced products. Once the amount literature, there are examples where paying of milk supplied went over a the same price to everyone has predetermined amount the led to discontent from those price dropped. They also paid who have better quality or premiums for differing levels higher specification products of quality and approved onthat they know is worth more. farm practices. This has often led to members For that cooperative it was selling the better product highly unlikely that each elsewhere and the co-operative member received the same then receiving only the poorer price for their milk. So, while quality product. Not as easy Nicola Shadbolt. some may say that is not to do with a product like milk, treating everyone the same, it but always a risk if the end market is not being ‘co-operative’, their response is prepared to pay a premium for quality was that they were just running a good product. business by costing their inputs according For nearly a decade now we’ve been to what they are worth to ensure the corunning a postgraduate course at Massey operative can be profitable and to align University on co-operative governance their members with market demand. and management. The first assignment It was interesting to note that under we ask students to do is to determine the

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December 2020


difference between corporates and cooperatives. It always generates interesting debate because there are many ways in which a co-operative is very similar to a corporate, and in other ways it is quite different. And, just to confuse things further, there are many ways in which the co-operative business model has evolved throughout the world so there is no one typical model to compare against. However, most co-operatives do deliver to a very similar set of principles that are based on the rationale for collective action, although the how of delivery will differ, as with the democratic control discussion above, but they are generally understood as being key to the success of all cooperatives. As identified by Cook and others the cooperative business model can create some challenges. One commonly mentioned is the free-rider problem when new users join and reap the benefit others have built up over many years. The free-rider risk also exists if co-operatives undervalue their membership fee. This particularly becomes an issue if the co-operative expands and if the fee is insufficient to cover the capital cost of that expansion. We have had a very real example of this in NZ and one that led to the demise of a co-operative. The other one is agency risk; this is very important as it has led to the demise or upset of a number of co-operatives. This is the risk that appears once you delegate the running of your business to someone else. The rules around how you select/elect those people and how well they then deliver to your needs are fundamental

to minimising this risk. How well they are held to account is probably the most telling as an out-of-control board/ management can also do great damage. There are various examples from around the world of how this is addressed, the most novel I have observed is an Indonesian collective that rotates the role of chair in the board to contain the power imbalance that can lead to dysfunctional boards. A commonly used definition of co-operatives is that they are user-owned, user-controlled and that they are there to benefit the users. A simple test then is to what extent are they user-owned, that is only those who participate in the co-operative (sell to/buy from it) have provided the capital through membership fees/shares and retained earnings. Then, to what extent they control the cooperative is a measure of how they use their ownership rights, who gets to vote on critical issues? Finally, how are the profits/ rewards of membership distributed among the members, is it an equal amount to each member, based on how much they participate, or on how much they own? The benefits are also not always profit as they often include technical assistance, training, social programmes to name but a few. There is a belief that the co-operative is not just there to provide money, there is a strong membership expectation of more. When I am asked to describe a cooperative, I reflect on my many years as a member of several co-operatives, as an academic researcher and teacher of co-operatives and as a governor of a cooperative and come up with this simple

Paying the same price to everyone has led to members selling their better lambs elsewhere and the co-op receiving only the poorer quality product.

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December 2020

COLLECTIVE ACTION: Principles for Co-operatives: 1. Voluntary and Open Membership 2. Democratic Member Control 3. Member Economic Participation 4. Autonomy and Independence 5. Education, Training, and Information 6. Co-operation among Co-operatives 7. Concern for Community From: International Cooperative Alliance (ICA)

definition: A co-operative is a socialist construct in a capitalist skin. Essentially a co-operative must get the collective action, the ‘core’ right, we are in this together, we are stronger together than apart, we matter to each other. The term ‘socialist construct’ is a bit off-putting for some but I use it purposely to reflect that it is about people and what matters to them and their families and communities. However, without a capitalist skin the co-operative becomes redundant, like the ones that only receive the poor-quality product, as their members have moved their better-quality product elsewhere. The capitalist skin dictates that the co-operative must be run as a business but not just with a short-term corporate focus, it needs an intergenerational strategic focus to match that of its members. This requires strong governance with appropriate accountability to minimise agency risk. When I shared this definition recently the response I got was enlightening – so the shareholders’ council looks after the socialist construct (reinforced by the fact that they are elected on a one-farm onevote basis) and the Fonterra board looks after the capitalist skin. Neither body is independent of the other, both work together with mutual respect to deliver overall success.  • Nicola M Shadbolt is Professor of Farm and Agribusiness Management at Massey University. First published in the NZ Dairy Exporter September issue.

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BUSINESS | RECRUITMENT

Get more twins. Get more twins.

Going online for work and workers

Androvax plus ewes = 20% more lambs 1

BY: ANNE LEE

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Boost your lamb numbers and overall flock performance2. Androvax® plus instantly increases lambing percentages by an average of 20%. Ask your vet about how Androvax plus can help you lift your lambing percentages. AVAILABLE ONLY UNDER VETERINARY AUTHORISATION ACVM No: A9927. Schering-Plough Animal Health Ltd. Phone: 0800 800 543. www.msd-animal-health.co.nz NZ-AND-200900001 ©2020 Intervet International B.V. All Rights Reserved. 1. Geldard, H, Scaramuzzi, R.J., & Wilkins, J.F. (1984) Immunization against polyandroalbumin leads to increases in lambing and tailing percentages. New Zealand Veterinary Journal, 32:1-2, 2-5 2. Beef and Lamb NZ, Making every mating count June 2013 p15

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ocial media is fast becoming a way for farmers to connect within their own communities and many are now using it to find staff and jobs. Facebook has numerous dairy jobs groups and pages with some regional and others national. Groups are typically closed which means you must ask to join whereas you just need to click on “like” for a Facebook jobs “Page” to see the posts in your own Facebook feed. For groups, anyone wanting to see or interact with a group must be a member – that goes for those wanting to list a job opening, those wanting to post to say they’re looking for work and those just wanting to browse without posting. In most cases to join you’ll have to answer a few basic questions aimed at letting the administrators (admins) of the pages ensure you’re a bone fide farmer or job seeker. You can find groups by searching dairy farm jobs and your region or just searching dairy farm jobs in the Facebook search bar. Most groups and pages have members that number in the thousands or even tens of thousands so the reach can be wide with new posts popping up on members’ Facebook pages daily. Admins are typically farmers with most groups having two or more people taking the admin role. They have the power to set the rules and tone of the pages and are able to delete posts and moderate the pages so both posts and comments are acceptable. Ads and comments that include inappropriate photos, swearing or accusations about employers or employees are likely to be deleted or not posted at all. Sophie Lee is the admin for the NZ Farming Jobs Facebook page and runs the NZ Farming Jobs website. The Facebook page has 21,793 following its page and Sophie says weekly page views number about 2700. The website includes a section on tips for what to include in an ad both for job hunters and job vacancy listings.

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BUSINESS | OPINION

An internship programme can be a win:win for the owner and the students as well as bring good cheer to the Christmas party.

My challenge to you... BY: ANNA CAMPBELL

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or as long as I have been involved in agriculture, our industry has lamented our poor image and the fact that we struggle to attract young people. I have heard people say we need a rebrand, agriculture is a term which brings to mind a lack of sophistication. In the game of cricket, an “agricultural batsman” is someone who dispatches the ball to “cow corner” in a rather basic manner! Suggesting an agricultural career to a youngster will not automatically make them think about producing the finest food in the world, advanced genetics, machine learning, international food chains, global food security, financial modelling or GIS mapping. Yet, those of us in the industry understand agriculture encompasses all of that and so much more. Various government and industry initiatives have produced scholarships for students and held open days to attract youngsters. This has helped, but we need more - we face an aging workforce, challenges in world food supply systems and a growing rural-urban divide. It will take a commitment from all agriculturalists to turn the tide - what might that commitment look like?

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This year, AbacusBio has taken on 11 interns, we have been supported by Callaghan Innovation and the Dunedin City Council and we also commit our own funds and energy into growing these young people. This year, of the 11 students, only one comes from a course directly connected to agriculture (forestry engineering at Canterbury University), the rest are general science, IT or commerce students. The students stay with us for 10-14 weeks. In non-Covid times, we also take on international interns, who work with us for three to six months, sometimes in partnership with other agricultural companies. The internship programme is a win:win for us and the students. We are able to get students working on projects we haven’t got the time or head space to investigate. This year’s interns are working on a wide array of projects including: an engineering model for a bioforestry initiative (converting forestry waste to packaging as a replacement for plastic); understanding the genetic diversity of the New Zealand honey bee population, determining how AbacusBio can grow the market for our genetic analysis product, Dtreo and a business plan for growing nigella sativa (black seed) as an alternate crop.

The interns bring vitality and energy to our business and they certainly add much good cheer to our Christmas party! In return, the students learn from us technical and business skills and they learn about the breadth of our wonderful sector in what is often their first agricultural workplace. Some of the interns will go on to seek employment in agriculture. We also employ the occasional intern ourselves. One of our previous interns, Fiona Hely, is now a partner in our business. So here is my challenge to you as farmers, industry bodies and agribusinesses. Imagine if every agricultural company in NZ took on, or shared, a summer intern. A farmer who has thought about shifting to Xero for their accounting needs, but never quite got around to it. The farmer could work with an accounting student, maybe in partnership with their accounting firm, to help them shift the business over, manage greater automatic coding and model differing financial scenarios for their business. A farmer who has long thought about modelling their environmental footprint and identifying and planting trees in areas of low productivity, could work with students to GIS map, footprint and plant new areas of their farm. A stud breeder could bring on an intern to assist with data management and developing a social media marketing campaign and, of course, a little fencing and stock work will never go amiss in a youngster’s life skills. As for larger agricultural companies, if AbacusBio can take on 10 interns, I see no reason why meat, milk, financial and fertiliser companies could not take on 30, or even 50 interns. Interns can sign confidentiality agreements within their contracts and a good programme co-ordinator can really help embed these young people in many parts of the business. Let’s think big here – the future of our industry has to be worth the investment and from a personal perspective, youthful enthusiasm does help sweep away the cynicism and negativity which creeps up as we age! • Anna Campbell is managing director of AbacusBio, a Dunedin based agri-technology company.

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FRESHWATER RULES

Environmental Regulation Timeline A timeline giving farmers an indication of the critical dates by which they need to take certain nationally regulated actions on farm. Source: Beef + Lamb New Zealand

OCTOBER 31, 2021 OCTOBER 1, 2021 MAY 1, 2021 (Winter grazing) A resource consent is required for grazing animals on forage crops during winter if winter grazing has not been carried out before or if the size and scale of this practice has increased (as compared to the greatest area between 2014 and 2019).

(Winter grazing) A resource consent is required if farmers are planning on grazing animals on a winter crop past October 1, 2021 or November 1, 2021 (in Otago and Southland).

(Winter grazing) Farmers who are planning to graze stock on a winter crop in 2022 and can’t meet the permitted activity conditions, must submit their application for a resource consent.

DECEMBER 31, 2021 (Climate change) Twenty-five percent of farmers need to know their Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions number. (B+LNZ will be providing guidance to farmers through our farm plan on how to do this) (Stockholding areas) A resource consent is required for stockholding areas that do not comply with permitted activity standards related to contaminant losses. (Fertiliser) Resource consent is required to apply more than 190kg/ha of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser to grazing land. Dairy farmers must start collecting records of fertiliser bought and used for the year ended June 30, 2022 and report to councils by July 31, 2022.

MARCH 2, 2021

SEPTEMBER 3, 2020

Feedlot consent applications must be submitted to regional councils.

(Land-use) A resource consent is required for land use changes of more than 10ha to dairy farming, of more than 10ha from forestry to pastoral farming and increases in the area in dairy support above the highest annual amount between July 1, 2014-June 30, 2019. (Stock exclusion) Dairy cattle, deer and pigs in new pastoral systems, must be excluded from lakes and rivers more than one metre wide with a three metre minimum set-back. Cattle and pigs crossing rivers more often than twice a month must use a dedicated bridge or culvert. (Feedlots) Resource consents are required for feedlots that don’t comply with the permitted activity standards related to contaminant losses.

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JULY 2025 (Stock exclusion) All beef cattle and deer must also be excluded from lakes and rivers (more than one metre wide with a three metre minimum set-back) where the land is low slope as shown on the maps on the Ministry for the Environment website.

JANUARY 1, 2025 (Climate change) All farmers need to have a written plan in place to know and manage their GHG numbers. All farmers participate in a farm-level system that prices GHG emissions and rewards on-farm sequestration. (This system will be developed through He Waka Eke Noa - Primary Sector Climate Action Partnership over the next four years - farmers will be kept updated on progress.)

Dairy grazers must also be excluded from lakes and rivers (more than one metre wide with a three metre minimum set-back) regardless of land slope. Cattle and pigs crossing rivers more often than twice a month must use a dedicated bridge or culvert. These exclusion requirements apply to all beef cattle and deer where the land is low slope as shown on the maps on the Ministry for the Environment website. Cattle, deer and pigs must be excluded from natural wetlands that support a population of threatened species including wetlands identified in a regional plan operative after September 3, 2020 and natural wetlands that are 500 sq m or more on low slope land as shown on the Ministry for the Environment maps.

JULY 2023 (Stock Exclusion) Dairy cattle (except dairy grazers), deer and pigs must be excluded from lakes and rivers more than 1 metre wide with a 3 metre minimum setback. Cattle and pigs crossing rivers more often than twice a month must use a dedicated bridge or culvert.

JANUARY 1, 2022 (Climate change) Twenty-five percent of farms need to have a written plan in place to know and manage their GHG numbers. (B+LNZ will be providing guidance to farmers through our farm plan on how to do this.)

DECEMBER 31, 2022 (Climate change) All farmers to know their GHG number and twenty-five percent of farmers with include GHG in their farm plans. (B+LNZ will be providing guidance to farmers through our farm plan on how to do this).

These requirements also apply to cattle and deer that are break-fed or grazing annual forage crops on irrigated pasture. Cattle, deer and pigs must be excluded from natural wetlands identified on a regional plan, district plan or regional policy statement that is operative from September 3, 2020.

More on freshwater rules p78

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WOOL | INNOVATION

Some products need higher bulk wools such as Perendale or Corriedale but in general the Romney and Romney cross wools are all in the category the company can utilise.

Opportunity knocks for strong wool Reports, reviews and rhetoric about the strong wool sector’s woes have dominated headlines for decades, seemingly to no avail with prices plumbing a new nadir earlier this year. Yet behind the scenes, a group of Kiwi entrepreneurs have been working on a project that just could, feasibly, turn the tide. Andrew Swallow reports.

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n most regions of the United States and Europe these days, nearly all buildings must meet minimum energy consumption standards, set by Governments seeking to reduce carbon footprints and improve people’s living and working environments. Those standards have made insulation not just desirable, but a legal requirement, and increasingly individuals, businesses, and public sector organisations are looking for sustainable, environmentally friendly and healthy products to meet that need.

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It’s a massive market and one that “makes our product very attractive,” Ed Langston of New Zealand wool processor-marketer, Wool Life says. He and Wool Life founder and coshareholder, Stephen Fookes, have spent the past three years market testing a woollen equivalent of the polystyrene balls used for insulation in cavity walls in the US. Called Insulknops, they can also be used in furnishings such as bean bags, duvets and pillows. Initially made on contract overseas, in

January this year a processing plant at Te Poi, eastern Waikato, was commissioned. It has a capacity – effectively a clean wool requirement – of up to 3000 tonnes a year. That’s about 2.5% of NZ’s total wool production, and they see that as just the start. Long-term they believe the markets they’re targeting are big enough they could account for up to a third of the NZ clip. Covid lockdowns here and overseas hampered the plant’s commissioning but in October the first shipping container

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full of NZ-made Insulknops – about nine tonnes of product – was shipped to the US, with a second on the way. Fookes says they’re aiming to ship 800t next year: about 70% for insulation and the rest for the higher-value furnishing market. The plant is an essential part of their strategy to control the channel to market, from farm-gate to consumer. Test marketing with contract-made Insulknops from NZ wool over the past three years allowed them to establish a network of installers in the US. The installers are existing insulation businesses supplying blown-in synthetic products so having the wool alternative broadens their service, not that Wool Life is relying on installers to sell it. Rather, Wool Life will collect orders through its website and sales management system in the US, and allocate them to the most appropriate installer. Traditional batting made of pure wool will also be available. DIY installation is an option too because unlike many of the synthetic alternatives, there are no health and safety regulations for wool insulation that demand certified installers. So far about 40% of orders have opted for DIY installation Fookes says. Besides wool’s natural, sustainable, and environmental attributes, another selling point for Insulknops is higher thermal rating than most synthetic equivalents. In the US, where air conditioning is a major power user, that’s important to

Above: NZ installation: Insulknops-lined walls in a recent new build in Waikato. Left: Novel knops: Wool Life’s Insulknops are made using a novel knopping process at its plant in Eastern Waikato.

keep buildings cool as well as the more traditional aim of keeping heat in, he points out. Wool’s ability to absorb and release moisture as humidity changes is another plus for Insulknop insulation. “It remains dry to the touch and that reduced opportunity for condensation to form helps the surfaces it’s in contact with last longer.” Air quality is another focus for US consumers due to poor air quality outside

buildings and concerns about release of volatile organic compounds (VOC) from many synthetic building materials, including insulation, inside. Wool insulation not only doesn’t emit such vapours, but it has the ability to absorb them improving air quality, Langston says. Acoustic insulation properties are also good, which is an increasingly important selling point in hotels, industrial buildings and business properties.

INVESTMENT OPTIONS MORE PRODUCTS AND MARKETS Besides the massive building insulation and furnishing/bedding markets, Wool Life has a couple of other markets in its sights, including insulation of perishable goods such as foods, medical or veterinary supplies. To transport these across the US takes two or three days which, with current synthetic insulation, necessitates refrigeration or dry ice and gel packs which are heavy and bulky. Fookes says they’re advanced in their research and commercialisation of a wool-based alternative. Another market they plan to target, possibly with lower grade lines such as necks, bellies and pieces which don’t work for the Insulknops process, is weed matting for horticulture. As a natural alternative to synthetics currently used, and because wool works as both weed suppressant, moisture retainer, and fertiliser, Fookes believes they’ll be able to market it for a considerable premium to plastic weed mat.

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How Wool Life’s relationship with wool producers will be managed is in the process of being finalised, with a range of investment options possible offering a share of returns, including a suppliershareholder arrangement. Other suppliers will likely be on some form of contract. The important thing is that the wool is traceable farm-gate to consumer and that the farm’s practices will meet the expectations of premium-paying US consumers. “We will be profiling the farms… at the moment all our wool’s coming from the South Island but we have sourced from the North Island before,” Langston says.

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The aim is to ship 800t next year: about 70% for insulation and the rest for the higher-value furnishing market. “We’re open to wool’s from throughout the country.” The specification of wools required is quite broad. For insulation coarse, second shear wool with a 60-80mm staple is ideal, while for pillows and duvets something a bit finer, such as lambs’ wool, is better. “Some products need higher bulk wools such as Perendale or Corriedale but in general the Romney and Romney cross wools are all in the category we can utilise,” Fookes says. To date wool’s been bought direct from farms and contract scoured. Prices paid to suppliers have been “better than they would achieve at auction”, Langston says. Fookes adds that long-term sustainability of supply is one of their key concerns, so they want to ensure suppliers get a return that ensures they remain focused on producing wool, as well as lamb. At the other end of the supply chain their pricing strategy is not to try to compete with synthetics but to maintain a substantial premium because for US consumers price signals quality.

High value sector: wool filled pillows and duvets.

“They have choices over a 300% price range.” The scale of the market also means there’s no need to use price to try to take a large market share. Insulating just 5% of new build homes in the US alone would use 10% of the NZ wool clip, Fookes calculates. “If you add retrofit insulation of homes to that at the same percentage [ie 5% of retrofits using wool] it would use 35% of the New Zealand wool clip alone, without adding any of the high value uses such as bedding.”

WHO ARE THEY? Stephen Fookes will be known to many with an interest in wool, having been chief executive of the New Zealand Wool Testing Authority from 1976 to retirement in 2008, and has represented New Zealand nationally and internationally on a range of wool textile initiatives and boards. With NZWTA he worked with about 27 countries to improve their wool manufacturing and processing capabilities, and established a global infrastructure for improving textile processing. Since 2009 he says he’s concentrated on developing new wool textile products, especially for interiors and buildings, and in 2017 teamed up with several “key strategic wool interests” here and in the United States to establish companies, Wool Life USA, and Wool Life NZ, focusing on direct-toconsumer supply strategies, which is where Ed Langston comes in. Langston is a director of several NZ-based companies, including gift meal provider Angel Delivery, and describes himself as “working in a number of industries in team, culture, and brand and market development”. He says he’s been researching opportunities to use wool in packaging and housing in NZ, the US and Europe since 2010 and that the key to unlocking these opportunities is to control the production and resourcing and base it in NZ.

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That’s another massive market. Fookes says 480 million pillows were sold in the US last year for a combined US$7 billion, starting at about $5 each through to hundreds of dollars for feather, down and, you guessed it, wool ones. Wool Life’s market research and test marketing indicates that wool sits at the upper end of the market in the $US100 range. This, along with other bedding products, has a huge margin, that should be shared with growers, they say. Duvets and other bedding products under development will also target the top end of the market. In both pillows and duvets, wool wins over synthetics on moisture absorption, fire risk, and gas emissions, and over premium natural products such as down in sustainability – no ducks or geese need die – and bug resistance. Fookes says they’ve targeted the US market initially because it’s a free economy, with scale and good supply systems, yet wool’s advantages have never been strategically exposed there in any quantity. “The interesting thing in the US is very few people are aware of the advantages and attributes of wool… In Europe they’re much more aware of wool.” New Zealand and several other markets besides the US are planned and a range of other pure wool-made insulation products will be progressively introduced globally.

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WOOL | CONTRACT SELLING

‘We see the opportunity for growers to allocate a portion of their clip to contract while still having the opportunity to sell on the open market, so it’s also about risk sharing.’

Textile producer Danspin has stayed afloat and stuck to its core business of spinning wool and wool blend yarns for carpet manufacturers.

Contacts give certainty for buyers, sellers BY: LYNDA GRAY

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ontract selling of crossbred wool is a win:win for both growers and manufacturers. That was the overriding message of an online woolshed meeting hosted by PGG Wrightson Wool in midOctober. The 50 minute online forum which attracted about 100 woolgrowers, included overseas comment from the executives of Danspin, a large Danish carpet yarn producer and client of PGGW. Danspin buys 8000-9000 tonnes of wool a year and about one-third of that was from New Zealand. Danspin purchasing manager Ole Winther said when they want top quality, the company uses NZ wool. “It’s clean, white and black fibre free and we can dye it into nine shades,” Another compelling advantage of NZ wool was the long term supply and price contract arrangements with PGGW. Contracts gave both yarn and carpet manufacturers known price variables on

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which to operate which was especially important when launching new product ranges. PGGW chief executive Stephen Guerin said contract arrangements with crossbred wool growers is an area PGGW wanted to encourage. “We see the opportunity for growers to allocate a portion of their clip to contract while still having the opportunity to sell on the open market, so it’s also about risk sharing.” There were other overseas clients looking for long-term wool supply contracts and PGGW was now keen to promote these selling options to crossbred growers. At the same time, they were looking at the possibility of launching a Bidr online selling system for wool. Regardless of the selling platform the export prospects for crossbred wool were “very challenging”, especially since announcement of the second round of lockdowns in Europe. • According to B+LNZ statistics the export value of strong wool has reduced 46% from a $6.11kg (clean) average in

2015 to $3.30 (clean) average for the eight months up until August 2020. • The volume of strong wool exported has not changed greatly. The four year average over the 2015 to 2019 calendar years was 44,654 tonnes (clean), ranging from 40,635 tonnes in 2017 to 52,243 tonnes in 2019.

STRONG SUPPORTERS New Zealand coarse wool would continue to play a significant role in Danspin’s wool textile business, company owner and managing director Lars Pedersen said. During the online meeting he said that despite losing market share to synthetics Danspin continued to invest in new wool product lines and technology. Oil-based manufacturers had a lot of money to invest in marketing and have done this while the wool industry has reduced investment. “I believe we are seeing a small increase in demand for wool due to environmental concerns.” Danspin was working with carpet manufacturer Bloch and Behrens to find solutions to stimulate demand in the wake of Covid. An example was a new heavy coarse wool yarn,100% NZ, for rug products. Since June there had been a resurgence in carpet and upholstery demand in the private home and domestic market but not so in the contract sector which included airlines, cruise ships and hotels. While others have gone broke in recent years, textile producer Danspin has stayed afloat and stuck to its core business of spinning wool and wool blend yarns for carpet manufacturers throughout Europe, the UK and USA. It’s offset costs and imminent doom by relocating production facilities to Lithuania, but also has a 31,000sqm spinning factory employing 400 people in Ikast, Denmark.

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Protect your ewes. Improve your lambing performance*.

CONTROL THE RISK OF TOXOPLASMA

CONTROL THE RISK OF CAMPYLOBACTER

Toxoplasma is present on 100% of New Zealand farms, and Campylobacter on 88%1 - but both are equally important. These two diseases can cause abortion storms with losses up to 30%, or more, of lambs*2,3. Preventing them takes two vaccines. Maiden ewes require 1 dose of Toxovax® and 2 doses of Campyvax®4 ahead of mating. An annual booster of Campyvax4 to mixed age ewes is required in following years. Protect against abortion storms, and improve flock performance.

ORDER TOXOVAX AND CAMPYVAX4 FROM YOUR VET TODAY. AVAILABLE ONLY UNDER VETERINARY AUTHORISATION. ACVM No's: A4769, A9535. Schering-Plough Animal Health Ltd. Phone: 0800 800 543. www.msd-animal-health.co.nz NZ-CVX-200900003 32  Intervet International B.V. All Rights Reserved. 1. Dempster et al (2011), NZ Veterinary Journal , 59:4 155-159. 2. Wilkins et al (1992) Surveillance, 19:4, 20-23. 3. Sahin et al (2017) The Annual Review of Animal Biosciences. 5: 9.1-9.22 © 2020

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WOOL | TEXTILE MANUFACTURING

The Icebreaker brand became known for quality woollen clothing.

Produce products consumers want BY: ROBERT PATTISON

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n 2017, two large United States companies spent about $700 million buying two well-known New Zealand textile companies, Icebreaker and Godfrey Hirst. The $700 million sale value of these two textile companies demonstrates the value of producing textile products consumers all over the world want. It also shows the generic global strategies used in the past by NZ and Australian sheep farmers to promote wool were of little value compared to establishing businesses for making and selling textile products to consumers. The billions of dollars spent on promotion and marketing programmes would have yielded sheep farmers better and more sustainable returns by being collectively invested in wool research, product development, vertically integrated businesses, manufacturing and marketing and distribution networks. In July 2017, Icebreaker was sold to US company VF Corporation for $288 million. Established in 1995, that sum

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equates to a return of NZ$13.1 million/ year for the privately owned company. VF Corporation has its headquarters in North Carolina and owns The North Face, Vans and Wrangler brands. During the company’s establishment phases, Icebreaker received tens of thousands of dollars from Government agencies. It seems there was no requirement from the Government for the taxpayer money to be refunded if the company was sold to an overseas buyer. Icebreaker is an example of a successful business model that deserved government financial support to help the company expand and grow during its development stages. It was founded by 25-year-old Jeremy Moon in 1995. Moon established the company around the philosophy of environmental sustainability, the use of natural fibres and animal welfare. The Icebreaker brand became known for quality woollen clothing. Moon discovered consumers world-wide were willing to pay premiums for clothing that met their environmental expectations for lifestyle, fashion, comfort,

performance and functionality. To secure fibre supply to meet demand for the rapidly expanding Icebreaker product range, Moon set up long term wool supply contracts with Merino farmers, paying premiums for specific fineness categories and wool types. But the value farmers received for the wool used in each product would have been less than 10% of the product retail value paid by consumers. The success and world wide growth of Icebreaker led to it signing a NZ$100 million supply contract with NZ Merino farmers in 2008. Icebreaker started out as a small business, selling pure Merino wool garments in NZ. Initially online through its website as well as through wholesalers and retail outlets. The company opened its first retail shop in Wellington in 2005, followed by another shop in Auckland in 2010. The company’s success has been its consumer focused product development, quality product range and the establishment of 39 retail outlets across NZ, Australia, Europe, the US and Canada. To increase productivity and meet world wide consumer demand for Icebreaker products, manufacturing capability was moved from NZ to China in 2003. By 2010 company product sales reached $100 million and by 2014 product sales exceeded $200 million. In 2017, Godfrey Hirst, New Zealand and Australia’s largest privately owned carpet manufacturers were sold to US Flooring manufacturer, Mohawk Industries. Mohawk didn’t announce the sale price, but at the time of the announcement, the Australian Financial Review reported the transaction to be worth AU$500 million dollars. Established in Geelong Victoria, Australia in 1865, Godfrey Hirst had been privately owned by the Geelong based McKendrick family for the past 50 years. In 2006, Godfrey Hirst bought NZ’s largest carpet manufacturer Feltex Carpets. Mohawk Industries Inc, has its headquarters based in Georgia, US and is the world’s largest flooring product manufacturer. The company employs more than 41,000 people and has manufacturing capabilities in 19 countries, with global sales in 170 countries worth US$10 billion dollars.

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LIVESTOCK | ONFARM

Focusing on forages Returning to the family farm in North Canterbury after a spell in Western Australia, Stuart and Jo Fraser have no regrets about their change of lifestyle. Sandra Taylor reports. Photos by Lucy Hunter-Weston.

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Jo and Stuart Fraser with their son Jock. Family was one of the drivers behind their decision to return to farming.

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tuart and Jo Fraser made the life changing decision to leave Perth three years ago and take over the management of North Canterbury’s Mt Benger. Regrets? Not one. Since returning to the farm where Stuart grew up, the couple have welcomed the arrival of their son Jock (2) – whose first word was tractor – and by the time this goes to print, will have had another addition to the family. It is the opportunity to bring their children up enjoying the lifestyle Stuart and Jo both had as children that was one of the drivers behind them leaving successful careers in Western Australia, Stuart as a diesel mechanic working in the mining industry and Jo as a sustainable building consultant. While they had always intended returning home, it was to set up their own business servicing diesel machinery. When the management position on Mt Benger became available, they took the opportunity to return to an industry and a lifestyle they were both familiar with, but had not worked in for many years. It was a risk, but one that has paid off in spades as the couple have embraced the challenge and applied the skills and knowledge gathered over years in nonfarming industries to Mt Benger. They also approached the role with open minds and a willingness to give things a go, while surrounding themselves with a support team, many of whom have had a long history with Mt Benger. For example, their relationship with ANZCO Foods and Luisetti Seeds has spanned two generations and both reps know Mt Benger and the Fraser family well. Of the 2750ha station, 80% is hill country

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R2 cattle are finished on Upright ryegrass.

and the 400ha of river flats is irrigated by K-line. All stock bred on the station is finished, although cattle will be sold store in years when feed is short. The lambs are all contracted to ANZCO which provides certainty around pricing and cattle are sold through ANZCO, targeting Five Star Beef. One of the changes Stuart and Jo have made since returning was to introduce Shorthorn genetics into their 400-strong breeding cow herd. The cost of Angus bulls was a factor in

the decision to introduce Shorthorns, but the breed also provides hybrid vigour, good milk production and because Shorthorn is a British breed, the progeny is accepted by Five Star beef. The other focus for Stuart and Jo is the productivity of their hill country. Stuart explains that the irrigation development on the flats goes back to the 1970s and has sucked up a lot of capital for what is just 20% of the farm area. While extremely valuable, the water is not reliable in that restrictions apply, particularly in hot dry summers.

Now they are aiming to use legumes to realise the potential of their hill country which will mean more lambs are sold prime off mum at the weaning draft, reducing the pressure on the flats. It is also more expensive to grow drymatter on the flats than on the hill country, so it is more efficient and cost-effective to use clover to maximise production off the hill country in spring and early summer. “We love the legumes as they really are the easiest way to get lambs away offmum.”

LUCERNE IMPORTANT TO FARM SYSTEM HILL COUNTRY DEVELOPMENT FOCUS Stuart’s grandfather flew Mt Barker subterranean (sub) clover over Mt Benger back in the 1950s so the clover is now endemic in their hill country pastures, but until now, they have not been actively managing the clover. Now, by encouraging re-seeding, they are seeing sub clover appearing in blocks they thought were devoid of the legume. “It’s about building that seed bank,” Stuart says. They are also taking a strategic approach to increasing the sub clover in their hill country pastures by identifying blocks for development. They apply lime to lift the pH (they have applied more than 1000 tonnes so far) and in autumn use chemical topping followed by cattle to break down thatch and open up the sward. They then fly on a mix of Antas, Woogenellup and Denmark sub clovers with their annual fertiliser to augment the existing Mt Barker. These varieties offer a mix of flowering dates and leaf sizes. Once established, the clovers are allowed to flower and seed, building the seed bank so the clovers are well-established in the pasture.

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December 2020

Lucerne is an important part of Mt Benger’s farm system, providing high quality feed for growing stock and for conserving. Grown on the K-line irrigated flats, they now have 180ha of the 400ha of flats in lucerne, up from 130ha three years ago. With its long tap root, lucerne grows well on their stony soils and being drought-tolerant, it copes with water restrictions in the heat of summer. On the recommendation of agronomist Andrew Johnston, they have recently been growing Raptor, a winter active multifoliate variety of lucerne which has five leaves, making it a good option for both grazing and supplementary feed. The Frasers lock up 70ha of lucerne in spring for balage, hay and pit silage. “If you’re going to have supplementary

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From left: Jo, Jock, Stuart, Duncan and Jane Fraser are partners in Mt Benger along with two other equity partners. All share similar values around family, friends and trust.

feed it has to be good quality,” Stuart says. Lambs rotationally graze lucerne stands throughout summer and the forage is supplemented with mineral salts. They also mow and wilt strips three days ahead of the lambs to provide the lambs with fibre. Stuart says he also noticed that the lambs prefer the drier lucerne than the wet, freshly irrigated parts of the crop. Forage crops also grown on the flats include leafy turnips, rape, ryecorn and for the first time this year, Upright ryegrass. The leafy turnips are a summer crop and the heaviest lambs (over 29kg) go on to this crop straight after weaning in November. Throughout summer, lambs are moved on to the turnips from the lucerne as they get close to finishing. The rape is used for wintering young cattle as is the ryecorn and Upright ryegrass.

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Because of the extremely dry conditions last autumn, they were contemplating their winter feed options and Andrew suggested trying a recently released Upright ryegrass. Taking a ‘boots-and-all approach’, the Frasers grew 35ha of this new ryegrass and 25ha of ryecorn. The Upright ryegrass wasn’t sown until the start of April but it came away quickly and was first grazed in early May. Throughout winter, the grass was rotationally grazed every three weeks by hoggets and calves. “It was just fantastic, for us that winter activity is a big advantage. “We’re looking for that winter activity and if we can get more winter active grasses and lucerne then we are less reliant on winter grazing crops,” says Stuart. He shut the Upright ryegrass up at the end of winter with the intention of making

balage out of it, but because of shortage of feed on other parts of the farm due to the dry conditions in early spring, they chose to strip graze it with R2 cattle. The cattle grew at 2kg/day on this feed during spring. Upright ryegrass has a big broad leaf that is highly palatable to cattle and sheep. Stuart says testing showed the grass had an ME of 12.4, so it is high quality feed which is so important for young and pregnant stock. Stuart is using Upright ryegrass as an annual crop and it will be followed by lucerne. He says he will definitely be sowing the grass again because it suits their system in that it can be sown late in autumn yet produce high quality feed throughout winter. Breeding cows winter on a nearby 400ha lease block while their Longdown Romney

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“The investors are in it for the love of it, not just shortterm dividends. cross ewes spend the early part of winter on the flats but are run onto the hill later in their pregnancy. “We find fit ewes have fewer bearings and less animal health issues such as milk fever.” Stuart and Jo employ two full-time staff and Lincoln students over summer. Stuart’s father Duncan is a frequent visitor and a much-valued part-time labour unit, adviser and occasional devoted babysitter. Coming from managing a big team in a high-risk environment in the mines of WA, Stuart takes health and safety seriously and it is very much part of the culture on the farm. Staff meetings are held fortnightly where they go over upcoming work, what is required and the identification of any hazards. The couple make full use of Farm IQ and Stuart says it’s a massive help, particularly when it comes to audits. They have completed a New Zealand Farm Assurance Programme (NZFAP) and just finished a pilot for NZFAP Plus which includes sections on biodiversity and land-use capability. Their irrigation sits under the umbrella of Amuri Irrigation and through this they have completed a farm environment plan. Jo has an environmental management degree and has already made her mark on the farm with native plantings. It is a work in progress, with 11.5ha ear-marked for native plantings. Mt Benger has been farmed by the Fraser family for 96 years but in 1994, Stuart’s parents Duncan and Jane brought the United Kingdom-based John Sheldon in as an equity partner. This enabled them to grow their farming business beyond Mt Benger and spread their risk. They have interests in a North Island dairy farm and a forestry block. Hawarden-based farmers Pip and Lucy Hunter-Weston are also shareholders as are Stuart and Jo in their own right.

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Top: Lucerne is used for making high quality supplementary feed. Above: Raptor lucerne. Lucerne is an important part of Mt Benger’s farm system.

The partnership is very much based on family, friends and trust and decisions are based on these values rather than shortterm financial gain. “The investors are in it for the love of it, not just short-term dividends. In fact, they have very rarely been paid a dividend, any money either goes back into the farm or into diversifying into other enterprises.” Stuart produces a monthly report to keep investors updated on what’s happening onfarm and board meetings are held twice a year. Jo has quickly made a name for herself as the financial gatekeeper and Stuart and the other investors need to present a strong

case before buying any farm toys. Stuart, who admits he has metal disease, says they have recently bought their own gear for making supplementary feed because it does give them more flexibility to cut smaller areas at a time rather than large areas all at once. The couple do have KPIs and these include financial targets. Stuart says prudent management has seen them reduce farm working expenses as a percentage of gross farm income from 78% to 62%. They have also reduced interest and rent as a percentage of Gross Farm Income from 33% to 13%, helped by the sale of some land to a neighbour.

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LIVESTOCK | ONFARM

Kereru Farm faces higher risk from more regular summer droughts and experienced a lengthy dry period for the first half of this year.

Tips from top performers BY: TONY LEGGETT

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he winners of two neighbouring regional farmer of the year awards in 2020 share several distinct qualities. Stuart and Jane McKenzie’s Te Rangi Station enterprise won this year’s Wairarapa Farm Business of the Year Award on strong financial performance through a period of significant growth in land area and stock numbers. Their 2100ha (effective) station is a patchwork of 7ha paddocks tucked away in the Whangaehu Valley about 25km north-east of Masterton. It’s an extensive property managed intensively and has achieved remarkably consistent financial and livestock performance in a challenging summer-dry location. Simon and Trudy Hale’s Kereru Farm at Weber 30km east of Dannevirke is also a consistent financial performer, smaller in size but intensively and safely farmed by

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very capable owners who manage its 790ha (effective) with one full-time staff member. Both couples are forward thinkers, especially when it comes to the increasing demands coming on environment preservation. The Hales won the 2019 Ballance Farm Environment Awards overall prize for Tararua on the strength of their efforts to enhance their farm’s environment and biodiversity. The McKenzies have also invested substantial money in fencing and planting to protect sensitive catchments and wetlands. Consistently high flock performance coupled with flexible cattle policies are also evident. Both run cow herds for pasture control, but cattle make up only about 20% of the total stock units on each property. Ewe condition is the priority for both sets of owners, so retaining flexibility in the cattle policies is paramount. Being in control means keeping track of data and information and both would find that challenging without the aid

of software and mobile phone apps to monitor performance, plan stock rotations that ensure ewe target body condition scores are met at critical times, and provide detailed farming task schedules for all staff. Both teams of staff and owners make extensive use of labour-saving sharing systems and programmes like Cloud Farmer, AgriWebb, Dropbox, FarmIQ, Farmax, Cash Manager, and Excel spreadsheets. A must-attend Monday morning meeting sets up the task list for everyone where everyone is encouraged to contribute on a no-surprises basis. Neither owner is wedded to dates to wean lambs, preferring to put ewe condition ahead of weaning weight of their lambs. Early weaning is often a reality, and that’s where crops on Kereru Farm are providing feed for ewes to free up space on spring pasture paddocks to keep lambs moving ahead off mum. At Te Rangi, up to 50% of 6000 lambs are sold at weaning before Christmas.

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Simon and Trudy Hales earned $163/ sheep stock unit and $111/ cattle stock unit in the 2019-20 financial year.

Both run cow herds for pasture control, but cattle make up only about 20% of the total stock units on each property. Ewe condition is the priority for both sets of owners, so retaining flexibility in the cattle policies is paramount.

About half go prime and the balance in store condition to regular buyers, the Grace family at Hunterville. Another 3500 are sold mid-year, either prime or forward store, when the focus of feeding stock shifts to getting ewes up to BCS 3.0+ leading into lambing. Kereru Farm faces higher risk from more regular summer droughts and certainly experienced a lengthy dry period for the first half of this year. Strategic cropping and re-grassing to reduce drought-induced feed pressure has been a game changer in recent years.

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Paddocks selected for cropping for their first time are dessicated, contoured and drained before seeding with a direct drill and adding capital fertiliser. Cultivation is avoided to minimise sediment run-off and reduce re-grassing costs to about $1000/ha including capital fertiliser and drainage. Kale is usually the first choice for the cropping programme on Kereru Farm. It is used primarily in a dual graze policy, firstly to bring lighter ewes up to higher tupping weights or put weight on ewe hoggets to ensure more are mated in the autumn, and then provides a winter graze to help create higher covers ahead of set stocking. In the 2020 drought, light and early ewes were stopped for 20 days on kale and scanned 185% and 195% respectively, compared with the mixed age ewes which scanned 157% on pasture topped up with maize grain. Chicory and clover is then direct drilled into these kale paddocks for grazing on rotation as ewes with lambs at foot are gradually mobbed up in spring, and later, for lamb finishing. If the summers that follow are kind, these chicory/clover paddocks will survive two years before a shot of Italian ryegrass is drilled in. At nearly three times the effective area, Te Rangi’s systems and infrastructure are key reasons for delivering levels of performance and consistency not expected from a station-sized property with plenty of challenges and complexity, including a winter stocking rate of 9.6 stock units/ ha. Laneways create efficiencies for stock movement around the farm, and well-sited

yards and woolsheds add to that. Paddock rotations are carefully planned and monitored by Stuart and his stock manager who is one of six permanent full time staff on the property. Having 250 paddocks means managing feed and having a ‘finger on the pulse’ is easier than a traditional station approach with larger blocks and designated stock class areas where predicting a looming feed shortage can be more challenging. Te Rangi sheep performance is built on Kelso genetics, a staggered mating to spread workload and risk at lambing and docking, and a lambing percentage that has averaged 136% over the past four years. The McKenzies regularly graze dry hoggets off farm for four months from September to December. In the 2019-20 year, 1400 left in September at 42kg and arrived home in mid-December at 65kg. Sheep and wool revenue for Te Rangi’s 2019-20 year was $128/sheep stock unit from a 144% lambing and hogget lambing of just under 80%. The Hales’ sheep performance is exceptional. In their 2019-20 financial year, they earned $163/sheep stock unit which is $20/ssu above the average of the top 20% of performers in the BakerAg financial analysis bureau (FAB) database for similar land types. Their cattle earned just over $111/cattle stock unit in the same year. Overall, Kereru Farm earned gross farm income (GFI) of $964,775 or $1220/ha in its 2019-20 year. Total farm expenditure was 56% of GFI.

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LIVESTOCK | ONFARM

Shorn and ready to go: prime Dohne lambs at Rata Peaks early this spring.

Wool or meat – A bet each way? Meat is an important income stream, but the Taylors at Rata Peaks Station, South Canterbury, are still tinkering with breeding for wool - even after 30 years. Andrew Swallow investigates.

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ometimes having a bet each way works better than putting all your money on a horse to win. It’s a strategy that’s working well for the Taylors at Rata Peaks Station in the Rangitata Valley, South Canterbury. To continue the betting analogy, the breed they backed shortly after taking on the 1836ha farm in 1989 is the Merino. Since 2001, the Dohne-strain of Merino,

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which is where the each-way bet comes in. “When we’re buying rams we’re concentrating on feet and eye-muscle area,” Sam Taylor says, who is gradually taking up the reins from mother Jan Taylor and her partner Craig Feaver. Birthweight and weight gain EBVs are also checked; then they look at the wool. “The wool is coming back into it too. We’re trying to get the best of everything,” Sam admits.

Getting the wool weight up is the main focus on the wool side. The average ewe clip is about 4.5kg from the annual midSeptember shearing, and the hoggets 3.0 to 3.5kg, or a bit more for the remaining wethers amongst them. “We’re doing a bit of culling based on points that are getting too bare and wool length that’s not good enough. The aim is to get the length and weight of the fleece up without increasing the micron.”

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Top: Sam Taylor’s taking up the reins from mother Jan at Rata Peaks having returned from six years working at Minaret Station, Wanaka, in 2018. Above: The future flock: ewe replacement lambs at Rata Peaks.

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Ewe fleece staple length averages about 90mm from shearing with a cover comb and lifter. Jan recalls telling their wool classer it would take them 10 years to get the fleece style they wanted when they started out using Merinos across the Polwarth flock, which they bought with the station in 1989. The classer retorted it would take 20. “And here we are 30 years later still tinkering with it!” The Polwarth flock included about 2000 wethers, which she and her then husband Malcolm sold immediately, and over the next two or three years they culled the ewe flock hard, reducing it from 4800 to about 2500. “Our first shearing with the Polwarths produced 33 lines with micron from 18 to 33. Basically they were mongrels!” Now lamb/hogget fleeces are consistently 17 to 18 micron and ewes 19-20. They market the wool through Mainland Wool, with most of it going to auction. Contracts have been considered in the past but crunching the numbers, after commission and other fees on the contracts, she’s confident on average they’re better off selling at auction. “We’ve got the option to put it up three times at auction for a flat rate commission. After that there are extra charges.” Normally they set the reserve at the valuation and put the wool up in March but, with the turmoil of Covid-19 and tumbling prices in the autumn, none of last year’s clip had been sold as of early October. “In 30 years I’ve never sold Merino fleece with a valuation average that low and it was the very start of the season,” says Jan. She’s confident prices will recover as soon as the disruption of Covid-19 is cleared. “The market for Merino is strong, it’s just not at the moment.” That’s echoed by Sam, who notes every outdoor activity clothing manufacturer has a Merino line of products now. Only three years ago, in March 2017, some of their hogget fleece at 17.7 micron hit the headlines for making the highest price at auction in Australasia. “It made $31.04/kg clean. We averaged $18.50/kg clean for all our wool that season.” Continues

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FARM FACTS: • 1836ha on the south side of Rangitata Valley, South Canterbury, mostly north facing. • 330ha flats, 770ha developed hill (oversown & topdressed); 736ha native. • 2200 Dohne Merino ewes; 100 Angus cows; 980 deer (total). • Station altitude 420m, rising to 1500m. • Average 6-700mm/year but highly variable.

LOCK UP AND LEAVE But meat is an important income stream for the business too. The Dohne’s have more than enough fertility for the longwinter, normally summer-dry environment and produce a higher value carcase when finished. “We only wet/dry scan but we tail about 120% from our mixed aged ewes so they must be scanning at about 150%. Twotooths tail 100%,” says Sam. There’s no shepherding. “We have a lock-up and leave policy.” Two-tooths are lambed on the flats on the south side of the river and the ewes spread round the hill, nearly all of which is north facing. “There’s one hill block that’s south facing. We put the ewes on to that after weaning to give the north faces a respite. Without that we’d struggle to carry the ewe numbers we do.” It’s also why they haven’t entered tenure review: it would ruin the balance of the station, Jan says. Soils are inherently low in sulphur and selenium so, besides maintenance fertiliser, about 150kg/ha of Sulphurgain

30S is flown on to the improved hill. Also, they’ve just started adding selenium to the fertiliser, having used long-acting injections to supplement stock with the essential mineral to date. A similar approach is taken on the flats, though Sustain Ammo 36N with selenium added was used this year instead of Sulphurgain. Ewes get a 6-in-1 clostridial vaccine-plusdrench injection at shearing, and a tripleactive oral drench at weaning. With the farm about 20km into the mountains from the Canterbury Plain it can sometimes get heavy rain in summer from westerly fronts pushing across the main divide, so ewes are jetted for flystrike with Cyrex (spinosad + cyrozamine) at tailing and lambs go through the jetter about a month later. “We do the ewes again at weaning; that’s at the end of January, start of February.” About 250 to 300 ewes are drafted out of the main flock each year and put to a Suffolk before being culled once the crossbred lamb is weaned. All lambs from that terminal mob have, until this season, been sold at weaning, typically about half

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Mixed aged ewes at Rata Peaks set stocked ready for lambing.

In March 2017 some of their hogget fleece at 17.7 micron hit the headlines for making the highest price at auction in Australasia. It made $31.04/kg clean.

STOCK BALANCE “ABOUT RIGHT” Having had up to 150 breeding cows at one point, Jan and Craig reined that back to 100 about 15 years ago, and since then feel they’ve got the balance of stock classes about right for the property. “We were struggling to get through winters with enough feed for the cattle.” The deer herd, started in 1996, is a good fit for the hill country and climate, and has gradually grown with the area behind deer netting to now include 350 hinds, all reds, replacement hinds and 400 velveting stags.

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going store and half prime, but it’s Sam’s aim to finish them all this year, taking them through to March or April if need be on 28ha of lucerne on the flats. About 800 bales of balage are taken off that and grass paddocks in spring and used to supplement stock through what is at least a 100-day winter with three or four snows most years. “There’s nil growth mid-May to mid-September.” About 50ha of kale are also grown for winter feed, but summers can require some supplement feeding too. “We can get extremely dry because it’s nearly all north facing.” Barley, for flushing ewes if necessary, grain feeding stags, and topping up rations where needed in winter, is bought in or sometimes homegrown. “This year we’re growing 8.8ha.” Besides black faced lambs from the terminal mob, the bottom quarter of the

Merino lambs are sold store and they finish everything else, taking about 1400 lambs through the winter from which they select their 450 replacement hoggets. The rest have been sold prime on a contract to Blue Sky Meats through local PGW agent, Rod Sands, for the past five or six years. “They’re good quality lambs, prime, and they yield very well.” Good growth rates also mean they’re hitting the optimum carcase weight for the contract of around 22kg at what’s usually the peak of the market in October. “As of the end of October this year 784 had gone, averaging 21.8kg at $7.20/kg excluding GST, with 170 left to go, mostly non-replacement ewe lambs,” said Jan. “They wouldn’t cut teeth until well into the New Year, but they’d probably be gone in the next three or four weeks (late November) anyway.”

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Karianne and Graham Wills in the middle of their farm Puketui at Ongarue, near Taumarunui. 44 

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LIVESTOCK | ONFARM

Wiltshires get the nod With wool worth so little, King Country farmers Graham and Karianne Wills decided to give fleece-shedding Wiltshires a shot. Russell Priest details their experience. Photos by Emma McCarthy.

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adly, wool has become a liability on Karianne (44) and Graham (49) Wills’ Ongarue farm, Puketui, 27km north-north-east of Taumarunui. So much so that they’ve decided to genetically peel it off their Romney-based flock using shedding Wiltshire rams. “Wool governs your life from dagging to shearing to crutching to dipping, so we went searching for a model that avoided having to do all these labour-intensive things especially now that wool is worth so little,” Graham said. Karianne likened their preferred model to the sheep equivalent of a beef breedingcow herd with a minimum of labour input. Their search became more urgent after they bought bidibidi-infested Puketui as a development project in 2014. Bidibidi is a prostrate native plant with hooks on its seed coat that attach strongly to wool significantly lowering its value. The solution to their problems lay close by in the form of shedding Wiltshires bred by his late neighbour Grant McMillan. Grant’s 20-year focus breeding Wiltshires had been to concentrate the shedding genes in his flock so that his sheep would completely shed their “wool” once a year. This is what the Wills aspired to achieve. “The previous owner used to overcome bidibidi contaminating the wool by shearing everything including lambs before the end of November in spite of them carrying little wool.” The Wills have carried on this tradition but shear only the ewes at this time.

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However, being tied to a shearing date significantly affects management, particularly with regard to marketing the lamb crop. “I want the flexibility to be able to wean when I want to and not be governed by a shearing date.” Graham maintains that mustering ewes and lambs for ewe shearing then turning them back out until weaning is not an option on their farm, so he weans most lambs at ewe shearing. Initially, Puketui was set up as a breeding/finishing farm running ewes all mated to terminal sires because it is earlier country than their nearby farm, Kohunu at Waimiha, and tends to dry out badly in the summer, particularly the pumice flats. “This is a simple system and runs well except that wool is a bloody nuisance, so four years ago we decided to give Wiltshires a go with a view to removing wool from the equation.” Graham had known Grant for years and had held many a lengthy roadside conversation with him about the breed. “Grant was incredibly enthusiastic about Wiltshires having worked with them for 20 years and completed an indepth comparative financial analysis of their performance (see Country-Wide April 2019).” Not wanting to go in boots and all, Graham decided to do a test run by mating about 650 Romdale two-tooth ewes on Puketui to McMillan Wiltshires in 2017. These ewes were predominantly dry hoggets from his hogget mating

FARM FACTS: • Farm 2146ha (1480ha effective) north-north-east ONGARUE of Taumarunui. • Own two farms, Puketui near Ongarue and Kohunu near Waimiha. • Predominantly sheep and beef breeding and finishing. • Shedding Wiltshires appear to be solving their wool problems.

programme so were not his best sheep in terms of fertility. With initial impressions being favourable the Wills decided to mate a larger number of ewes the following year while also mating their first crop of 350 half-bred Wiltshire ewe hoggets. After running Wiltshires on Puketui for 18 months and struggling to find any significant faults with them the decision was made to mate some of their ewes on their Waimiha farm mainly to generate enough replacements for Puketui. Graham was looking forward to the results of this mating because genetically his best (A flock) ewes are run on Kohunu while his poorer ewes, which he initially mated with Wiltshires, are run on Puketui. There are now 900 half-bred hoggets on Kohunu. The Wills continue to be impressed with the hybrid Wiltshires and at this stage are Continues

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Karianne and Graham Wills look out over one of their two farms, Puketui.

continuing to grade up to purebreds. “I have talked to a number of people who won’t run them because they think they’re nutty but we haven’t found that at all. I’m used to Perendales and blackface lambs and they’re not as bad as them.” Graham says they are “quite intelligent”, which is contrary to how most sheep farmers describe their sheep. He claims that having become accustomed to the yards they will “draw” through them like no other breed he has farmed, and he’s farmed a few. “Our yards are poorly designed and don’t have a good lead, however, in spite of this they ‘draw’ very well and that includes going through the drafting race.” Karianne claims you can stand three pens back from the drafting race and they will still move freely through it.

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CLEAN AND MOBILE Dagging is a chore no farmer can get enthusiastic about. Graham claims the crossbred Wiltshires require little attention on this front. “We’d have to dag 600 of our 1500 Romneys while dagging only six of our 1100 half-bred Wiltshires.” Graham also enjoys shifting them. Having crossed a Perendale flock with Romneys he was finding the mobility of the second-cross Romneys frustrating. Wiltshires have restored the mobility of the Perendales. Graham is not the only breeder who has used Wiltshire rams and who claims the lambs are deceptively heavy. “We were pleasantly surprised at how the lambs weighed after viewing them in the yards and thinking few if any would

reach our 35kg cut-off weight.” Soundness of feet is always an issue that arises when farmers are considering a breed change. Graham maintains that so far they appear to be no worse than other breeds, and his oldest Wiltshire rams (four tooths) all appear to be sound to date. “At this stage they appear to be a reasonably fecund/fertile easy-care breed.” In selecting his rams Graham looks for a more blocky, well-muscled type with a good spring of ribs and hind end. They must have correct leg structure and sound feet and be devoid of horns. He avoids the tall, long, poorly muscled types. While he is keen to achieve a fullshedding flock as soon as possible he is not prepared to do this at the expense of the phenotype outlined above. Before introducing Wiltshire rams

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The Wills are impressed with the Wiltshire-crosses and continuing to grade up to purebreds.

Graham had two reservations about the breed, the first being their reputation for being difficult to handle. This reservation has been dispelled since farming them and he even claims there are some significant positives to their nature. Tolerance to facial eczema was Graham’s second reservation because Puketui is an eczema-prone farm. However, he believes their crossbreds have already developed a reasonable level of tolerance. Last autumn was a bad eczema period on the farm during which 900 ewe lambs were exposed unprotected to the disease. According to Graham, 100 of these were not mated as hoggets as they had either died or been culled as showing signs of clinical eczema. Of the 800 mated to Wiltshire rams 82% became pregnant, which was a pleasant surprise as Graham claims that in a bad eczema year the hogget and two-tooth conception rates take a significant hit. Only a handful of half-bred two-tooths were culled with clinical eczema. The Wiltshire crosses on Puketui delivered another pleasant surprise at scanning this year by exceeding Graham’s expectations. The 300 half-bred fourtooth ewes and 800 half-bred two-tooths with a handful of three-quarter Wiltshires scanned 160%, which was only 5% behind the MA ewes mated to terminal sires.

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Kohunu’s two-tooth Romneys scanned 166% and the MA Romneys 169%. “What excites me about the breed is that it is already ticking most of the boxes in spite of there being only a small population of purebreds in the country that have probably been subjected to minimal selection pressure.” Another of Graham’s concerns until now is that he’s had to keep most of his female crossbreds to build his flock, hence his culling rate has been minimal. He’s looking forward to this changing next year. Graham credits Grant for the success he is having with Wiltshires and will be forever grateful to him for introducing him to the breed. “He was a visionary and a great mentor for me, and the sheep he bred were a tremendous credit to him and his wife Sandy.” Grant was almost single-trait selecting for full shedding with considerable emphasis on phenotype, and leaving the genetic selection to David Arvidson, from whom he bought most of his sires. One of his greatest concerns with his selection policy was whether he was stripping too much wool off them although he conceded that their significantly thicker pelt would give them improved insulation. His aim was to have

them carry 30mm of wool growth into the winter. “Grant left me with the impression after visiting him once that there were few if any time and weather constraints associated with the breed, and this was almost entirely due to the fact that they grew very little wool.”

‘We’d have to dag 600 of our 1500 Romneys while dagging only six of our 1100 half-bred Wiltshires.’

The Wills family comes from Te Pohue on the Napier-Taupo Road where Graham’s father was farming in partnership with his brother before buying a 908ha farm (Kohunu) near Waimiha (about 40km north of Taumarunui) in 1979. This is where Graham grew up. Graham is a cousin of ex-national president of Federated Farmers, Bruce Wills. “I always wanted to go farming, however, I was told there was no future in the industry so went off to Massey and Continues

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Top: The Angus cow herd is gradually being converted to Stabiliser. Above left: Wiltshire-Romdale cross lambs. Above right: The halfbred Wiltshires scanned 160%, which was only 5% behind the MA ewes mated to terminal sires.

completed a degree in business studies in 1990.� By this time Graham’s father had had enough of farming, so after graduating he returned to the farm to help. Two years later he was managing Kohunu and after five years was leasing it. He bought it from his parents in 2000. Graham married Karianne, who is Norwegian, in 1997 and in 2006 the couple spent two years in Norway before returning to Taumarunui and buying a small lifestyle block near the Taumarunui hospital where Karianne worked. Graham commuted to Kohunu. The couple have three boys Henry (22), Filip (21) and Edwin (18). In 2011 they took up the lease on a 600-hectare farm next door to their lifestyle block and farmed it for eight years. Negotiations to buy this farm and consolidate their business fell through in 2019 but not before they bought 1248ha

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(640ha effective) Puketui in 2014, which meant they were now farming three blocks totalling about 2770ha (2090ha effective). The cashflow from the lease block was used to fund the development on Puketui. The lifestyle block was sold in the autumn of 2020 so now the Wills are left with two farms, Kohunu and Puketui, totaling 2146ha (1480ha effective). Kohunu is a more developed, easiercontoured, wetter farm than Puketui, with heavier soils. Graham classes it as strong hill country. Its higher elevation means spring arrives later than at Puketui and its rainfall is significantly higher. These features mean the two farms complement one another well, and the fact that they are only 20km apart is an added bonus. Kohunu is not only home to the A flock breeding ewes but also a herd of Stabiliser breeding cows. Puketui was bought by the Wills in September 2014 in a semi-developed state.

The previous owners had erected 12km of mainly boundary fencing and installed a water scheme, and farmed it with well below optimal fertiliser levels, particularly for phosphate, and at a conservative stocking rate. Since arriving the Wills have increased the stocking rate by about 25% and lambing percentage by 24% (last year 149%) with a significant increase in stock sale weights. Most of the internal insultimber electric fences have been replaced, an internal lane to the back of the farm has been created and a lot of new track work has been completed. Attacking weeds like blackberry, inkweed, tutsan, small totaras and scrub is the current focus. Having all their boys home during lockdown has been a huge help in tackling this project and other farm chores. Two heavy applications of capital fertiliser have been pivotal in achieving significantly higher production.

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“The response to the capital fert and rotational grazing has been better than expected and we’ve got a lot of rye in the pastures now.” Soil tests taken in November 2019 show the average pH is about 5.8, Olsen Ps ranging from 8 - 26, average potassium levels 5 - 6, sulphate sulphur levels 5 - 12 and total sulphur levels 465 - 966. Puketui ranges in altitude between 200 and 600m with about 90ha of it being flatto-rolling, 130ha medium hill, 420ha steep hills and 644ha covered in native bush and gullies. Having a lot of north-facing country means the farm dries out badly, particularly the pumice flats. These flats and the ash soils on the hills interspersed with patches of sedimentary soils receive an annual rainfall of 1500mm. This comes mostly from the west and is warm. Its distribution in recent years has been somewhat unpredictable with summer droughts no longer being uncommon. Puketui gets little wind but does get the odd light fall of snow on the higher peaks. The Wills’ farming policy has traditionally been to lamb hoggets,

“I have talked to a number of people who won’t run them because they think they’re nutty but we haven’t found that at all. I’m used to Perendales and blackface lambs and they’re not as bad as them.” calve two-year heifers and aim for high lambing percentages while running a low stocking rate over the winter (without supplementary feeding) and a high stocking rate in the summer. After a number of dry summers Graham has had to rethink this policy and intends to reduce stock numbers in the spring and carry fewer stock over the summer. As a possible change in policy he’s carrying a few winter lambs this year to see how they go. “I’ve never had a summer feed surplus before, however, a combination of fewer stock and a wet summer may generate one and I’m not sure how I’ll deal with it.

Summer fallowing (deferred grazing) may be an option.” Much of Graham’s success in lifting stocking rate and production on Puketui can be attributed to his winter grazing management. “I’ve got this down to two mobs with roughly a 50-60 day rotation.” About 1100 Wiltshire crosses are rotated with the 60 R2 in-calf heifers plus the lighter cows while the 1500 MA Romney ewes mated to terminal sires are in another rotation followed immediately by the MA cows (170 minus lighter ones). The Angus cow herd running on Puketui when the Wills took over is gradually being converted to a Stabiliser one using homebred bulls from the Stabiliser herd on Kohunu. Cows start calving in midOctober. The weaner blocks and hogget country are cleaned up in early winter with the young stock being grazed at least two days ahead of the two ewe mobs. Forty-three R1 bulls go on to their block on the flats in mid-June on a 20-day rotation with roughly two days between shifts. Continues

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Above: Graham riding through bush on the farm. Top right: Wool is now hanging around the farm more than in the woolshed. Above right: The farm’s woolshed is still in use for now.

Graham’s castration policy is to leave entire the better male calves and any that are not black, and castrate about 60 of the poorer black calves leaving an even line to sell store in January at 15 months. The bulls are killed in January at 15 months at an average weight of about 300kg. The 60 R1 steers are set stocked in early July on 35ha of easy country at the back of the farm. Around the middle of July the 110 R1 heifers go into a 22-day rotation on some easy ash country, and the 650 mated Wiltshire cross hoggets enter their own rotation on some of the harder and higher country. Ewes and most of the cows come out of their winter rotation on about August 10 (13 days before the start of lambing). Single-lambing ewe paddocks are grazed last before set stocking. Cows are set stocked at the same time as the ewes at 0.4/ha while ewes bearing multiples are at 6-7.5/ha and singles at 6/ha on the harder country. Lighter cows get paddocked out progressively on twinning paddocks from about mid-July. Graham aims to set stock twinning ewes on 1300kg DM/ha and singles on 1000kg, and to help achieve this 12-15kg N/ha is applied together with the annual maintenance fertiliser in late winter. He’s

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not sure whether this will be applied this year because after the drought both farms received 60kg/ha of Sustain (27kg N/ha) with excellent results. The pumice flats get a split dressing of nitrogen in the spring and autumn with the spring application being blended with potash and sulphur because of the low levels of these elements and their mobility in pumice. One of the reasons Graham uses nitrogen is to encourage better pasture species. Lambing percentage last year was 149 and calving 90 (based on cows wintered) with normally 3% empties. A small draft of lambs is taken at weaning in late November. The singles are weaned in mid-December with 60% being drafted off mum at 17-18kg. A further draft is taken just before/after Christmas, accounting for 30% of the remaining lambs, with a further draft on January 20 accounting for a further 35%. The remaining lambs are usually shorn (bidibidi included) but were sold store this year. Before introducing hogget lambing to Puketui the Wills used to kill 75% of their terminal lambs by the end of January at 17kg, then shear what was left and kill most of them a month later. “Wiltshire hogget lambing has presented

us with an additional challenge cos now we’ve got hogget lambs to deal with over the summer. The straight terminal system was so simple.” Graham admits he doesn’t grow his hoggets as well as he would like over the winter, but once they hit the spring feed they stack on the weight and have no trouble reaching 60kg by two-tooth mating. He normally doesn’t like mating them under 38kg but he admitted this year he mated all the Wiltshires including the hogget lambs, and some of these were quite small. The average mating weight of his Romney hoggets on Kohunu is normally about 45kg. The mating weights for his ewes on Puketui this year were: half-bred Wiltshire two-tooths 61.7kg, half-bred Wiltshire four-tooths and some three-quarter Wiltshires 67.7kg, and MA ewes to terminal rams 64.2kg. Graham is conscious of over-drenching so tries to avoid drenching ewes. Tail end ewes particularly in January and after scanning are identified, drenched and put on better feed. Sometimes two-tooths are drenched. Lambs are drenched four weekly after weaning and if the terminal lambs are weaned later they may get drenched in November.

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LIVESTOCK | MANAGEMENT

Weaning for a successful tupping BY: BEN ALLOTT

O

n a breeding farm, weaning is the culmination of all your efforts through the year. Watching healthy well-grown lambs leave your farm and watching the next generation of replacements start their productive lives is your reward for all the work put into the past year. It is also critically important to appreciate that your decisions made leading into weaning and the decisions you are about to make on managing ewes through the summer have a huge bearing on how successful you will feel this time next year. Ewe condition is the top priority. At this stage of the year it is easy to focus on the short term goal of maximising lamb weaning weights and under appreciate the impact this focus can have on ewe BCS

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and mating performance next autumn. Some key points to seriously consider and talk to your neighbours and advisors about: • By day 70-80 of lactation, ewes on good feed are only producing 30-40% of the milk yield they were at peak lactation. Ewes losing condition on tight allocations, or poor-quality feed, are producing even less. Lambs are now getting the majority of their energy for growth from pasture. In many cases, lambs will grow just as well and probably better if weaned early on to high-quality legume, herb, or brassicadominant feed. • Summer is a hard season to put weight back on ewes and you only have 90 days until tupping. In most pasturebased systems you are doing well if you can feed ewes to gain 50g/day. Over the 90 days between weaning and tupping this equates to just 4.5kg liveweight (roughly half a BCS). If you are a summer

dry East-Coast farm with regular summer dry challenges, or a wetter North Island property with facial eczema, and higher parasite challenges through summer, then in many seasons this degree of summer weight gain is a real challenge. You cannot afford to see ewes losing condition leading into weaning in an attempt to drive lamb performance. You will struggle to gain this lost weight back in time for the ram. • Ewes losing weight is inefficient - each kg of ewe liveweight loss releases 17MJ of energy to go into milk. It then takes 65MJ of energy above maintenance to regain each kg back through the summer. It doesn’t make sense to rob condition from your primary productive unit when the conversion to product is inefficient. If feed is abundant, and quality is good leading into weaning, the pressure to make timely decisions is reduced. But if ewes and lambs are competing for quality feed, if lambs on mum are hardening off, if ewes

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stop gaining weight and god-forbid start losing weight then you are sacrificing next year’s potential by leaving lambs on mum. Make an early decision. Prioritise summer feed into ewes who will lift production – there is no increase in mating performance gained by increasing ewe condition above a BCS of 3. There is a large lift in mating performance in lifting ewe BCS from 2 or 2.5. Immediately after weaning (do not wait a month), get ewes through and draft into lines based on BCS. Ewes already at mating condition should go on to a maintenance only summer rotation. It makes no sense feeding these ewes to gain weight when summer feed is so valuable. Ewes below mating weight should be preferentially fed to gain condition to reach BCS of 3 by mating. This draft should be quick and easy. It is the best spend of time you will ever make to lift ewe flock productivity. If you require BCS training contact your Beef + Lamb NZ extension officer for details of the next BCS workshop in your area. And download the BCS pack from the Beef and Lamb Knowledge Hub.

CULL EWES WITH UDDER ISSUES

BOOKS

Uddering ewes – do not carry bad udders through the summer. Kate Griffiths has written and presented across the country detailing how significant the ongoing production losses are when ewes with udder defects are allowed to stay in the flock. Ewes with a normal udder at tupping will lose 12% of her lambs on average through next lambing. Ewes with a lump or a hard udder at tupping will lose 30-

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Watching healthy, wellgrown lambs leave your farm is reward for work put in.

40% of their lambs the next season! My recommended approach: Udder ewes alongside BCS immediately after weaning and cull problematic ewes immediately (this picks up 50% of affected ewes). Reexamine one month later to pick up the other 50% that you missed at weaning. Talk to your animal health advisor about what defects you should be feeling for. Getting a conveyor in for this job allows you to BCS, examine udders, mouth ewes, and check feet all in one go. Early weaning systems have been proposed as a way to reduce the conflict between ewe condition and the performance of the current lamb crop. Establishing high quality, high yielding

legume and herb stands to wean young lambs as light as 16kg can introduce a huge amount of flexibility in tight years while also driving improved performance if implemented well. Paul Kenyon has an excellent podcast on the Beef + Lamb Knowledge Hub – “Successful early weaning of lambs.” Take the time to investigate whether this management tool could be beneficial to your system and to identify the pitfalls to avoid. Enjoy your success – take the time to reflect on a job well done. Have a beer. Enjoy your kids. Celebrate Christmas. • Ben Allott is a North Canterbury veterinarian.

We have a range of books for sale on our website:

Go to: www.nzfarmlife.co.nz/shop

December 2020

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LIVESTOCK | ONFARM

Hamish Murray with ewes, winter 2020.

Wean earlier and heavier Better genetics, feeding and staff input are contributing to improved performance on Marlborough’s Bluff Station, as Joanna Grigg reports. Photos: FMG.

H

amish and Jess Murray pushed on with pasture subdivision, fertiliser and improvements started by his parents, Chid and Sue. Now they are seeing results(see p19). Merino ewe body weight at Bluff Station has increased from a traditional 50kg, with the average now 56kg. Weaning is 20days earlier at 75 days following an October 5

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lambing. Despite less time with the ewe, lamb weaning weight has lifted from 23kg five years ago to a 27kg average. Hamish is excited to see how well stock are doing on the red clover both during and after lactation, and enjoys having more options to feed better. Genetics, feeding, and staff input are all playing a role. “We are moving into a phase of feeding

stock better by providing better quality feed and building pasture covers ahead of them.” Lambing at an 85% to 90% five-year average has the greatest potential for improvement. He is trying to do this by feeding the twinning ewes better before lambing. During the phase of rebuilding stock numbers after the 2014 drought, lambing percentage flat-lined.

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Hamish and Jess Murray.

“We now have specific areas of clover and pasture we use to provide high quality feed prior to mating, and then again for the feed pinch in late winter.” This season, small mobs of 60 ewes were set stocked on red clover blocks at 15 ewes/ ha on October 5. Hamish is delighted to see clover is outstripping demand. Tailing is late November and, in December, ewes will be mobbed up and rotated around blocks before being turned out onto the limestone country. Mob size is 800 to 1500. This spells the lower country. Hamish has the paddock rotations to run the twotooths separately this year. Rams have been sourced from both Middlehurst and Muller for seven years. Hamish chooses rams with higher than average fat EBV to try to build body weight

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and survival. He has noticed an increase in wool clip. “I can see an increase in frame size too.” The target length is 75 to 95mm for the Icebreaker contract. Hamish said the challenge is keeping two-tooth fleeces under this. “So the next idea is to try to shear the ewe lambs in February, again late November as a ewe hogget, and then again to line up with ewes as a two-tooth.” The poorer Merino ewes go to a Romney ram. Footrot is a challenge and ewes are troughed at weaning. Offenders are put in the B mob and kept handy for further treatment. The clean sheep are sent to the Mead country beyond the river. The 1600 wether lambs are taken through a winter, shorn and sold store – on to a neighbouring property for the past three years. Two-tooths are mated but heifers are not put to the bull. Calving is about 89% from the 950 Angus/Hereford cows but calf weaning weight has lifted in the most recent season. “Our sheep produce more money per stock unit than cattle but labour drives down the difference.” Cold winters and drought have seen a few tough seasons. Other battles include keeping wild sheep running against the Clarence out of the flock, to keep out lice. “These sheep have been here since 1860; letters in Kaikoura archives refer to them when people first settled at Coverham.” Five years ago, the Murrays built a new set of sheep yards at the Mead River and

then another, beyond, at the Dee. This meant they can now graze 2000 ewes with lambs in this isolated area of the farm rather than be restricted to grazing cattle or wethers, as in the past. Job travel time has been cut down from about six to two hours a trip. The back of Mead Hill has extensive limestone country which responds well to sulphur while the Cabbage Tree block is warm country ideal for mobbed-up ewes and lambs, cows and calves over summer. The Coverham outpost now has a new stock manager’s house (post-earthquake) and a refurbished shepherds’ quarters. This valley of broken plateaus, between the Inland and Seaward Kaikoura Ranges, carries 95% of total stock. The 35km track to the Branch, and onwards to the boundary with the Muzzle, has been improved and the travel time shortened by adding lanes and cattlestops in places. Instead of droving calves and weaned lambs back to SH1 for trucking, they can now be carted in good weather using an eight-wheel truck. A secondhand tip truck carts gravel for the road and a 20-tonne digger keeps it in good shape. Improved access allows more timely attention to stock jobs and greatly improves speed to market. “This is still one of the most limiting factors,” Hamish said. TB remains a threat but it was bovine viral diarrhoea arriving in 2008 that had the most recent impact on cattle. A vaccination programme for all heifers

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BLUFF STATION, CLARENCE • 13,800ha farmed by Hamish and Jess Murray, Chid and Sue Murray • Winters 9000 Merinos (4300 mixed age ewes, 1400 twotooths, 3300 hoggets) • 40 tonnes of 17.5 to 21.5 micron wool • 85%-90% lambs weaned/ewes mated • 950 Hereford/Angus cows, 89% calving • 750 Beehives producing 35t honey • 130 blocks, from 40m to 650m above sea level • Gateway to extraordinary geological features • 40 minutes on gravel track to key production area Coverham from homestead • Rainfall 850mm homestead, 950mm Coverham.

(twice) and a booster to mixed age cows has calf health protected. Being a Murray, Hamish can support the family and get excellent genetics right next door with Herefords from Matariki and Angus from Woodbank studs. In 1963 (before Chid’s time) 30 tonnes of white and red clover were sown, and this legume base has been topped up with subterranean clover over the years. With the luxury of small fenced-off blocks, Hamish has drilled 85ha of straight red clover. This is stitched in with annual ryegrass in year three. To prep the block, he root rakes and giant discs the area. He sprays it in spring for a summer fallow, then puts it through a cereal in autumn/winter. This deals with weeds and poorer pasture species. Red clover seed is drilled late November and is not grazed until February/March. Water is gravity fed to troughs.

MENTOR RATHER THAN ‘BOSS’ Hamish Murray is keenly aware that he is just one cog in the wider family and team of nine contributing at Bluff Station. His Nuffield study in 2019 looked deeper into

the skills important in creating productive farm teams and the approaches necessary to build engaged and motivated employees on farm. He explored the different natures and ways people operate and like to give and get instructions. His report recommends the “boss” acts more as a mentor, allowing others to work to their strengths and giving them the confidence to step up and develop their own skills. Hamish spent two years studying economics at Cambridge University (2006-2008) and five months travelling, including eight weeks with the Nuffield Scholars in 2019. This honed his analytical and business management skills. “It’s been a tricky process at times, taking on the family farm, trying to keep everyone happy – parents, staff, close family.” “In the past I tended to try and problem solve everything for everyone and it became exhausting. After a while I shut myself off and didn’t really want to socialise.” After a suggestion from his sister he saw a business coach and made a plan to

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Lambing % + 150% year in. At scanning average liveweight 78kgs (11 months) Ewe clip 20.5 micron average. Ram Hogget 18-18.5 micron. Pre-sale micron test average 21.9 Geoff Wright

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GEMS FROM NUFFIELD EXPERIENCE

Wool and meat from the 9500 Merinos ewes are just two of Bluff Station’s saleable products. They also sell 35 tonnes of honey, and store cattle.

become more of a mentor to staff rather than try and solve all the problems. This interest in team dynamics spurred his Nuffield research. “Now I try to learn something new each day – reading or chatting to someone, as this keeps me happy, and I try to allow others do the problem solving themselves while I encourage.” His new stock manager, Matt Wise, has experience in feeding Merinos in intensive cropping and subdivided systems. “We’ve hired him to help me with that aspect.” “The biggest limitation to success is often our own egos, knowing when to get out of the way to let others thrive, or step into that space – that’s really the trick.” Staff keep in touch with radio links and via a Messenger group where photos and requests can be loaded up. This is a great way to keep communication flowing throughout the day, he said. Hamish is on the production science group of the NZ Merino Company and was a farmer representative on the postquake farming project after the Kaikoura earthquake. He enjoys being a member of the local RMPP Action Group on Business Development, and Jess Murray is a member of the Marlborough Women’s RMPP Action Group.

WOOL AND HONEY EQUAL EARNERS Quite by chance the wool clip and the honey extracted from Bluff Station in 2019 were almost the same weight – 35 tonnes of honey and 40t of wool. They also earned the same income per kilogram – about $12. Hamish Murray would like to see Bluff

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Station honey (sold via Weederspoon in the United States) have more of a New Zealand sales pitch and differentiation around it. Also be marketed as multiflora honey at a higher price. “Multiflora kanuka, manuka, clover, matagouri and beech honey is really superb,” he said “I tried many types of honey in the US and around the world on my Nuffield trip and the quality from here is far superior. Most honey in the world is produced as a byproduct of pollination from monocultural crops but ours comes from a wide but a variety of sources, really adding taste.” “There are almost 200 different New Zealand honey brands competing and we need to work together rather than compete for sales as honey in a jar.” Producing more of both honey and wool are goals for Hamish, although there is some trade-off between them. With about half the station in scattered or patches of kanuka/manuka, beech and woody species like Tauhinu, it offers bee feed but regeneration also threatens pasture production. Fertility is improving (pH 5.6) but fertiliser applications also increase scrub growth. Hamish feels that his wool, marketed through the NZ Merino Company, has a better marketing story attached to it than the honey. Hamish signed the 10-year term Icebreaker contract in 1996 and said the price is essentially a smooth mean. “This was a natural progression after 20 years of supplying with shorter-term contracts.” “The more wool we can contract the better as we can’t contract our beef price or honey in such a way.”

Hamish Murray is keen to share his findings from immersion in different workplaces around the world and how they could be useful to New Zealand farm businesses. In his Nuffield 2019 report he picks four key elements that emerge strongly as significant factors in successful businesses and teams. The first is alignment of members on the culture, values and purpose of a business creating shared belief, expectations and responsibility. It works when there is real clarity from team members on what that looks, sounds and feels like as actions, Hamish said. Second, adopting processes, tools and methods used in design thinking, lean and agile ways of working. Hamish describes this as, rather than farmers dictating what should be done onfarm, they use a process that involves staff being given opportunity for input, which strengthens the result and levels of enjoyment with the task. Third, giving and taking feedback. “Often feedback is a gruff expression when something is wrong or in a performance review once a year – if at all.” “No wonder we are struggling to attract younger people to agriculture when they are so used to getting feedback as part of the constant everyday lives through phones, social media and even the changing education system.” Fourth, strong leadership from farm owners and managers. He describes this as a shared and supportive style where all members of a team exhibit greater awareness and are able to help each other solve their own problems, handle conflict and monitor performance. Not the traditional lead- from-the-front command approach but rather, one of a coach. Hamish suggests farmers try a coaching course to learn the coaching approach (one of creating awareness, responsibility and self-belief in staff). “I completed a course through Coach Approach some years ago and it has been the foundation for changing my thinking.” “Coaching has a real focus on questioning and discovery rather than telling.” Hamish has put his lessons into action at Bluff Station. For Hamish Murray’s full report Future Farm Workplaces, see https:// ruralleaders.co.nz/nuffield-scholar-reports/ 57


LIVESTOCK | GENETICS

Ram buying – what’s your genetic plan? BY: BEN ALLOTT

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efore you start flicking through stud catalogues or booking a ferry crossing for a buying trip, I strongly recommend you take the time to review the performance of your breeding operation. Identify the strengths and weaknesses of your sheep genetics, set some medium term goals and use the tools available to you to research studs that are breeding rams that complement your vision. Create a genetic plan. Your terminal ram is not an afterthought. Selection should be as careful and considered as for a maternal ram. The

lambs born from terminal sires should be the economic powerhouse of your breeding operation. These lambs need to have high survival and they should have rapid growth rates and excellent meat traits to maximise your lamb kill off mum. Those that don’t go fat should be excellent finishers and be aggressively sought after in the trade lamb market. Hybrid vigour is a great asset to the offspring of terminal sires but it should not be the sole feature of your terminal selection programme. The NZ terminal worth index is a good place to start in assessing the genetic merit of terminal sires. Three traits – lamb survival, growth, and meat yield – feed

into this single index figure, which can be used to directly compare rams on their ability to deliver your farm a quality, high performing terminal lamb.

MATERNAL SIRES Beef + Lamb NZ Genetics ‘Better sheep breeding' is a resource to help you develop a genetic plan, improve your understanding of breeding values and indexes, and to provide assistance in finding ram studs that align better with your genetic goals. A new tool this resource doesn’t mention is nProve.nz. This free online search engine is designed to help you easily find such rams and studs. When

E XC E P T I O N A L

annual entry Te Kuiti 2th Ewe Fair January 15, 2021 • Annual line of 420 Coopworth/ Romney 2th ewes • Bred by Phillip McKinnon at Rangiwahia on country rising to 650 meters above sea level.

• A long history of top-ranking Carthew Genetics gives fertility and FE tolerance (sires tested to 0.6). • Particular focus on performance weaning weights, meat yield, and conformation/type.

• Maternal flock consistently scans • Current crop averaged 49.7kg 180% plus, including past two very liveweight on November 3 - so challenging years. Maternal and on target for 63-65kg by sale date. terminal flocks past four years docked 162%, 162%, 150% (two • Losses of 2 (0.5%) since April. snow storms over lambing), and this Clipped 3.5kg wool on October 7. year expecting 157% despite impact of prolonged drought. • Can handle pressure and bounce back. Very satisfying sheep to farm.

TOP-PRICED LINE OF SHEEP AT THIS SALE FOR THE PAST TWO YEARS

Enquiries 58 

Above: The 2021 lineup - averaged 49.7kg on Nov 3, on track for 6365kg at sale. Left: Same annual draft two-tooths sold in 2020 sale, pictured in early Dec 2019.

Geoff Burton 07 895 8052, gtb@xtra.co.nz or Allan Hiscox, NZFL, 0274 428 434

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December 2020


The lambs born from terminal sires should be the economic powerhouse of your breeding operation. you load the page for the first time it steps you through how to use the tool with a walkthrough tutorial, and within five minutes you will be finding rams from across NZ. An example scenario I worked with while writing this article was: For the past 20 years the farmer has selected rams based on reproduction and lamb growth. He now regularly achieves very high scanning results and has rapidly growing lambs in the spring but as a consequence has selected for very large ewes. He identified reducing his high lamb wastage as a key driver of future productivity gains. His key genetic goals are to maintain a high scanning flock and high lamb growth, improve lamb survival, and decrease ewe size. Within nProve.nz I manipulate the sliders on the maternal indexes (right): 1. Maintain high NZMW – this ensures key goals of maintaining high reproductive performance and lamb growth are maintained without specifically focusing on these traits 2. High selection pressure on lamb survival – a key genetic goal 3. High selection pressure on ewe size – a key genetic goal. After then restricting my region to Canterbury and selecting my chosen breed as “Composite”, the highest matching maternal stud was Longdowns with a link on how to contact them. Simple, fast, efficient. Other ram points that are very easily forgotten about until just before tupping: • Get the ram team crutched, shorn, and dipped. • Complete their breeding soundness exams. • While you are at it, check their feet and BCS. • Address known and trace element deficiencies well in advance of tupping. • If you need teaser rams for hoggets or early-mated ewe mobs then get these vasectomised several months before you need to use them.

Terminal ram is not an afterthought. Selection should be as careful and considered as for a maternal ram.

An example from nProve.co.nz – a free online search engine designed to help refine your ram search across New Zealand.

• Ben Allott is a North Canterbury veterinarian.

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December 2020

59


SPONSORED CONTENT I ALLFLEX LIVESTOCK INTELLIGENCE

Tissue sampling packs prove a gamechanger for Angus breeders Susan and Roger Hayward, owners of Twin Oaks Angus Station in Te

The testing provides reliable parent verification and avoids mix-

Akau are proud Angus Pure breeders. They moved their 300 Angus

ups and interbreeding. This has allowed the Hayward’s to find

cows from Canterbury to Waikato in 2016 and prior to the move

“accurate and true breeders”. Once calving is complete Susan sends

in 2012 they completed a verification sire parentage trial over the

all samples off to be HD50K tested. The samples remain in viable

entire bull drop. The results revealed 6% were wrong ...”which we

condition for 12 months. The HD50k is used to read the genomic

were horrified with.” Susan explains. Although it was much less

makeup and that information is then fed into the EBV’s (estimated

than the industry average of 10-15%, it was still a huge surprise

breeding value) giving better reliability and accuracy. “Before we

and certainly something both Susan and Roger agreed needed to

used genomes it was a 50% calibration. 50% was from Mum, 50%

be improved. This emphasised the importance and value of tissue

from Dad. But we all know that’s not exactly how it works. We can

sampling to their Angus stud farm operation and kick started their

now have a complete breakdown of their traits which they have

journey with Allflex Tissue Sampling Units (TSUs).

inherited from previous generations as well.”

Four years later they have just finished calving 400 cows, all calves

The Haywards believe TSUs are a clean, simple, accurate process

of which were sampled within 24 hours of being born. During

and certainly a massive improvement on other sampling methods

calving they tag, weigh and take a tissue sample of each calf. “The

such as pulling hairs. They value their relationship with the Allflex

blister packs which Allflex introduced were a game changer” notes

team and say they are very approachable and always available to

Susan. They contain the visual tag, EID button and TSU all matched

answer any questions. “We now look towards the future and would

and bundled together on a plastic tray. There’s no need to manually

like to increase the amount of bulls we sell each year and increase

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our consistency of breeding high value quality animals across the

error. “Tagging, weighing and sampling each calf can be a stressful

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and time-consuming task, but having the TSU bundled together means you no longer worry that there’s going to be mistakes” she explains, “we had 2 cows who had swapped calves and we didn’t

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know until the results came back.”

Tagging, weighing and sampling each calf can be a stressful and time-consuming task, but having the TSU bundled together means you no longer worry that there’s going to be mistakes”

60 

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December 2020


LIVESTOCK | STOCK CHECK

Godwits returning to the Manawatu where they left from six months ago.

Farming’s sustainable gains poorly marketed BY: TREVOR COOK

S

eeing emaciated godwits returning to the Manawatu river estuary after flying for nine days from Alaska was an experience to make our dilemmas, disappointments, frustrations and anger seem almost trivial. Their declining numbers are not because we do not accommodate them well here but because development along the Chinese coast is reducing their re-fuelling options on the long flight back. It is humbling to see these birds returning to the Manawatu where they left from six months ago. They are driven by an instinct. Some of our frustrations and anger etc are probably also driven by instinct, but mostly by logic and passion. These birds demonstrate the instinctive drive to survive and farmers will similarly respond to challenges to survival but with more than just instinct. It might seem like a big mountain to climb given the deafness to logic and reason of some of the decision makers to date. Not helped by the media playing puppy dog to the opinionated, but ill informed public and their guardians. Take for example the Heart Foundation recent claims.

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December 2020

I was surprised that there was not more reaction to the messages from the Heart Foundation linking red meat intake to heart disease. First of all, when such stuff is put before us the media take it as gospel. Is it a valid conclusion or is it a flimsy relationship? Furthermore, relating a single food entity to a disease presence is very rarely valid because of the huge number of confounding factors that can contribute to that outcome. Did it apply to lean venison as much as it did to fatty sausages? In the promotion of this claim lean red meat was sitting alongside sausages. Was it the fat that is often with red meat that does the supposed damage or something else? Take it out of your diet, shorten your life by missing out on the longevity factors known to be in red meat, but be comforted by knowing that the risk of heart disease will not be doing the damage. Perhaps those deaf decision makers need to get out on farms more and see first hand the application of best practice. That application captures water, soil, vegetation and animal health while sitting alongside profitable farming. A recent large Wairarapa field day showcased the best, demonstrating all of these and would readily meet any objective of sustainable

farming. Where is this being heralded as the way of the future and as a proven approach to successful farming? Practices based on planned grazing rotations that feed animals appropriately and keep the soil and pastures healthy. Monitored application of fertilisers to help the soils stay healthy, management programmes that support animal and people welfare. Plant biodiversity that supports soil stability and the world and care of waterways. A model delivering high quality products that is operating all over the country. Yet is often criticised by opinionated and ill informed public as damaging the environment, and at times being unkind to animals. To be marketed just as New Zealand lamb or beef is not doing it justice. What is behind it is as important as its appearance and taste. Have we marketed it on that basis enough? To not do so opens the door to labelled yet unproven management systems to take the limelight. There has been a genetics programme in our sheep and beef industries forever. It is now, at least in sheep, able to contribute significantly to the sustainability objectives referred to above. It can stand alongside those other aspects of our farming that makes it unique. I have been less than complimentary about that genetic gain in the past partly because management has such an impact on the outcomes which can dilute the role of genetics. But there are now sheep that require less inputs and get less disease as an observable and measurable outcome of the genetic selection. Facial Eczema tolerance has long been one of these which I have celebrated in the past. But the incidence of worms, flystrike, enzootic pneumonia, wastage and lameness can be significantly reduced by the use of selected rams. I think that it has taken a long time for the genetic selection for these to get enough grunt to not be overwhelmed by management. To have this genetic support accompanied by high performance in the standard production traits demonstrates a huge achievement by our sheep breeders. It may not be a comment welcomed by many farmers, but those breeders that have made genuine gain through selection are poorly rewarded. Especially when you see the price paid for Angus bulls with very little genetic data behind them.

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DEER | YEAR IN REVIEW

Looking back and forward Country-Wide writers asked farmers how their year panned out and what they intend to do next year. in conjunction with the Canterbury and West Coast DFA to ECan on proposed Plan Change 7 to the Canterbury Land & Water Regional Plan. Battling bureaucracy and immersion into environmental politics is not something he signed up for when he took on the DFA chairman’s role.

BY: LYNDA GRAY

O

n the Peck family’s South Canterbury farm 400 stags were velveted this year. That’s about 100 more than when Country-Wide visited in 2018, and the maximum number Graham and son Duncan can comfortably velvet around the demands of tractor work and the AI of heifers during November. Since 2018 velvet weights have increased which Graham puts down mostly to genetics rather than feeding. “The trials we carried out as part of our Advance Party convinced us that we don’t need to feed out grain or nuts unless we’re short of grass. We don’t think we’re missing out and it saves us money.” The Pecks’ primary farm income is from dairy heifer trading and velvet stags, with secondary flexible income streams from beef cattle and ewe trading. They buy in up to 40 two-year-old commercial stags every year for the velvet herd. The secondstring stags have created a profitable and reasonably straight forward velvet system. Looking back on the year that’s been Graham says it’s been a seven out of 10 for

Velvetted stags on the Ross’s Waimumu farm.

62 

TOO BUSY FOR BOATING Graham and Duncan Peck.

the deer side of the business. Their velvetfocused deer operation has largely escaped the fallout from Covid-19. “It’s been uncomfortable for us seeing how other deer farmers have been affected. There’s been a lot of pain and I think deer farmers have been very stoic.” There aren’t great changes planned on the family’s Sterndale Valley farm, near Pleasant Point, although Graham will continue to step back while Duncan takes on more. Graham will be busy enough in his chairman role of the South Canterbury and North Otago Deer Farmers Association (SCNO). Coming up is a joint presentation

At Waimumu, near Gore Warren and Gary Ross had an above average year production-wise. The weather and growth season picked up especially during lockdown. “We were busy and got a lot of things down, the downside was that we couldn’t go boating,” Warren says. The good growing season was reflected in velvet weights. “There’s been plenty of heavy, thick velvet getting up around 10kgs so we’re happy with that.” The dampener was venison prices, although Warren is reasonably confident they will pick up in the long term. A limited number of weaners were sent for processing during the spring chilled venison season, and as many as possible were offloaded thereafter in anticipation of a further dive in price. Country-Wide profiled the Ross family’s deer, beef and dairy grazing enterprise in 2016 after altering feeding and management to control Johne’s which had struck young Red hinds during 2012-13. One of the changes was the introduction of fodder beet for the winter feeding of hinds as an adjunct to a woodlot feed pad system. The beet reduced the number of lighter weight younger hinds at the end of winter, many of which were JD suspects. The growing of beet also sped up pasture replacement, and the improved younger and higher quality pastures have also helped better maintain hind condition. Sugar beet was about to be trialled, on the recommendation of Gary’s son-in-law,

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December 2020


John Hamilton.

Warren and Gary Ross.

the idea being to lift the bulbs in autumn and feed it as a supplement with grass. Last year they fed 250 tonnes, half to the velvet stags in spring, and the remainder to hinds and fawns. “We don’t think it made a big difference to velvet growth, but we had some of the best condition hinds and heaviest fawns at weaning and think that was partly due to the sugar beet.” The problem is the lack of suitable flatland necessary for harvester access to lift the crop, which is why they haven’t sown any this year. However, buying lifted beet in as an option they might follow up.

More of the same is planned for 2021 although Warren is concerned about the ever-changing goalposts of environmental regulations. “It’s a bit of a concern but we’re all in this together.” Outside of working hours Warren, chairman of the Southern Field Days, is busy preparing for the 2022 event.

POSITIVE SPIN-OFF The conversion of a redundant woolshed for indoor wintering of weaners at the Hamilton family’s farm near Winton, was a positive spin-off from the Covid lockdown.

The idea of indoor wintering was discussed by members of the Southland Elk Wapiti Advance Party that John Hamilton chairs. He’d been thinking about indoor wintering for a while and the impetus to follow through was the loss of a neighbouring 24ha lease block in autumn which would have increased grazing pressure on the rolling hill country. The Hamiltons converted the woolshed using home-milled timber to construct a two-pen wintering shed with scales and a load out ramp. This year 57 weaner stags were wintered indoors for 129 days. They were fed lucerne hay and crushed barley and achieved daily average growth of 210g. The plan was to send the weaners from the shed to slaughter but they ended up on grass for a week because of a shortage of processing space. It was a slight glitch and overall John’s pleased with the first year result. “In the past we’ve wintered the weaners on grass which is difficult at times. Having the shed has saved pasture and made things a lot easier.” Continues

››

Which one’s right for you? Start with a shopping list! Good growth, moderate hind size

High merit for velvet antler MWT

Larger eye muscle area and better eating quality

Early fawning daughters VW2

CD

High value per hind mated as terminal sire

Good venison breeding hinds R-EK

EMA

TERMINAL

Internal parasite tolerance

High-growth, fast-inishing weaners W12

Progeny have heavy weaning weights CARLA

WWT

You’ve chose en a deer breeder but which stag is right? Lo ooking at them won’t tell you – it’s what’s on the inside that countts. Breeders who reco ord through Deer Select can help. Breeding Values can give you conidence that a sire will produce animals that meet your farming needs. For more about Breeding Values and De eer Select: deernz.org.nz/deerselect

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December 2020

63


DEER | YEAR IN REVIEW

Lows and highs in a year of Covid-19 BY: JOANNA CUTTANCE

T

aihape farmers Andrew and Pam Peters, who own Balquhidder, have never had a year quite like 2020. Andrew described it as absolutely terrible. The Peters’ who along with their 800 deer, also run 1400 ewes and 300 hoggets, started the year on a low, with extra low wool prices. The continuing drought over the summer meant there was a shortage of feed and they ran out of good stock water, and because the whole North Island was in drought the store lamb market was sluggish. Usually the Peters get a good cash injection to the business selling their weaner stags at the Taihape Weaner Sale in April. However, Covid-19 meant the fair was cancelled. By this stage the Peters had already used all their supplementary feed and it became very difficult to get any cull stock killed, so they carried a lot of extra stock. It was a double whammy, the drought and not being able to get rid of any stock, meanwhile the farmgate price had dropped considerably. Andrew said rubbing salt into the wound, was having to pay provisional tax and the continual barrage of illconceived regulation. There were some highs, production was good with 94.5% fawning and weaner sale weights heavier than previous years. Prior to lockdown the Peters replaced their original homemade deer crush with a Heenan hydraulic deer crush. Andrew said he should have done it years ago. They also installed a gravity water system

Pam and Andrew Peters on their Taihape farm in 2016.

out of necessity because they had to get water to the stock. The biggest highlight for Andrew and Pam was the midNovember loop motorbike tour of the South Island with a group of friends – the first extended break for quite a while. As for 2021, the Peters are planning nothing too dramatic, keeping things much the same, if anything lighten their stocking rate and watch the regulations, Andrew said.

Recovery hopes pinned on Covid vaccines BY: LYNDA GRAY More deer were sent for processing in September than 2019 indicating that farmers took on board warnings from venison exporters in August. They urged farmers to take the money offered for the spring chilled season because of uncertain price prospects beyond Christmas. Alliance Group filled and dispatched its last sea freight orders about the same time Europe went into a second lockdown. European food service distributors venison manager, Terry O’Connell, said the timing couldn’t be worse for the recipient. It was a very challenging situation and it had added more uncertainty. There were some very nervous clients in the food

64 

service industry who might have to freeze down products. “At the same time there’s been cancellation in orders so it’s a very volatile situation.” Andy Duncan, of specialist venison processor and exporter Duncan New Zealand, reiterated venison marketer concerns. Although pleased at venison supply and production during the chilled season, he was apprehensive about the ramifications of a second lockdown. “The chilled product was on the water when the latest lockdown came into force so it remains to be seen how successfully distributors can move it along the supply chain.” The European food service sector was expected to come out of lockdown on

December 2, so there was still hope for reasonable consumption during the traditional game season, O’Connell said. Contract prices for the September to end of October spring supply period peaked at more than $7/kg, Innes Moffat, DINZ chief executive said, but retreated quickly thereafter as the second wave of Covid-19 in European markets forced restaurant closures. “No one is going to enjoy summer 2020/21, and the timing of the recovery remains uncertain.” The arrival of vaccines which promise increased control of the disease offered an expectation that restaurants and consumer travel could return to more normal circumstances in the main markets in the year ahead.

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December 2020


DOG FOOD GUIDE

Working dogs are ‘amazing animals and elite athletes,’ Marlborough vet Stuart Burrough says.

Caring for their mates Working dogs are best mates to many farmers, indispensable to all, Gerard Hutching writes.

R

ecent decades have seen a sea change in attitudes to caring for what Marlborough vet Stuart Burrough describes as “amazing animals and elite athletes”. Where once farmers might have fed their dogs throwaway lamb offcuts, and left them in kennels at the mercy of the elements, a rising tide of awareness is setting new standards for their care. Practice manager at Atkinson and Associates in the northern King Country town of Piopio, Cathryn Christie, confirms a shift in attitude from her observations over the last 10 years. “It wasn't uncommon 10 years ago to see very thin farm dogs that were not regularly wormed, they weren't fed enough and it was poor quality food sometimes. They got injured regularly and didn't last very long. There are still dogs like that out there but they're the exception to the rule when you see them these days.”

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December 2020

A dog’s working lifespan varies, depending on the terrain. On steep hill country five to seven years is maximum, after which it might be sold to someone with an easier farm. Christie knows a number of nine-year-olds still working and are valuable parts of the team. Financial self-interest is one of the chief drivers of the transformation. Central Otago station manager Chris McDonald points out a well-trained dog can be worth anything between $8-$10,000 and therefore any measures that extend the working life of their second most valuable asset (after a vehicle) are welcome. McDonald has six dogs for the Patearoa 20,000 stock unit farm, and he treats them like part of the family. He says most farmers are caring, some appreciate them more than others. “It depends on your upbringing, if you come from an environment where people treat their dogs well, so will you.” He says some dogs get a good pat during

Marlborough vet Stuart Burrough.

the day at some stage. Some people hardly pat a dog at all, it's just a tool to them. “For my own situation, care hasn’t changed a lot, I’ve always kept them well housed and well fed.” McDonald says some farmers buy a dog and trade them, others will have them from pups to when they die. In the past a dog might get old and it would be put down but now a lot of people value what the dog has done within their lifetime. Continues

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“They treat them to a damn good retirement - which they should get.” A typical day starts with giving the dogs a run before loading them on to the dog box on the ute and heading off to work. In spring, lambing is the most important job and for that he uses only the three heading dogs rather than the boisterous huntaways which come into their own herding sheep in the yards.

SOPHISTICATED CARE Central Otago station owner Chris McDonald sees vets as being at the forefront of dog health and wellbeing. He says care has become more sophisticated. Equally, farmers are more prepared to spend a lot of money to rehab a dog if it is injured. Two vet practices – The Vet Centre in Marlborough and Vet Service Hawke’s Bay - are helping to spearhead the newly launched Wallago Dogs programme. It is the brainchild of Elanco technical vet Kirstie Inglis. She is also an animal wellbeing representative for the company. The aim of the initiative is to improve the services that vet clinics offer to farm dog clients. Inglis’ interest in New Zealand farm dogs was sparked 15 years ago when she migrated from the United Kingdom. “Already animal health was a pet passion, and then I met these cool breeds the huntaways and the heading dogs – and got to know about the station life. “It just blew me away, how important the bond was between those working dogs and farmers out on those remote stations all day.” Working in a vet practice, she and colleagues used to do annual dog runs where within a three-day time period they would vaccinate as many as possible. She laments they did not get enough time to properly examine the dogs but notes that has changed to an extent, with some practices doing a good job of giving dogs the health care they deserve. She says if a vet practice sends out a dog animal expert rather than the farm vet who normally doesn't do dogs, and they do a nose-to-tail exam like one for a pet dog, they can pick up and foresee health problems a lot better. “Better than doing the frantic ‘let's cram all the dogs into three days a year in the area’,” Kirstie says. With that in mind, in concert with Stuart Burrough of the Vet Centre in Marlborough and Caroline Robertson of Vet Service Hawke’s Bay, she has developed sets of resources practices can use.

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December 2020

Burrough and Robertson describe it as a process of sharing their intellectual property. In their own way they have been doing Wallago dogs for several decades but they never gave it a formal name. Robertson says the first impetus used to be vaccinating dogs and trying to get herd immunity, but that has expanded out to improving overall animal health. This is trying to give people an easy way of starting a process. When faced with something new, the hardest thing is to get started. “We're giving them a push, it's a good thing for business, clients and the animals,” she says. Burrough says the resources are aimed at practices which have not yet developed a working dog health programme, and to give them the tools and confidence to get started. He likens a thorough clinical examination to an annual warrant of fitness check for the car – it will pick up preventable problems.

ANOTHER YEAR’S WORKING LIFE “It's better for farmers if they can get another year's working life out of their dogs by dealing with problems before they develop, but also has benefits for the practice which earns income from follow up procedures that were identified. It’s a win:win.” Atkinson and Associates’ Cathryn Christie says the new frontiers of dog care lie in drugs, nutrition and kennel care. There is an increasing use of antiinflammatory drugs to ward off stiffness. Where in the past farmers used to wait until arthritis slowed dogs down, now they

Kirstie Inglis: ‘It just blew me away, how important the bond was between those working dogs and farmers.’

are being more proactive by putting them on anti-inflammatory drugs. “It might just be given as a pulse therapy - perhaps when they've got a big day to get them through - or as they get older it might be a more constant course. There's one product (Trocoxil) which you can give once a month and that's been a game changer for working dogs because farmers aren’t always compliant at dosing daily.” Big strides have been made in nutrition. Dogs used to be fed mutton no matter the quality, but one of the upsides of the better prices farmers are being paid for livestock is that the practice has largely stopped – “a godsend for nutrition”, Robertson says. In comparing dogs to elite athletes, Burroughs says the All Blacks would not try and perform on “rubbish”, whereas diets of high levels of protein and fat not only give them more stamina but stronger bones. Specialty dry food diets do not come cheap. For example the Royal Canin mobility diet costs almost $200 for 15kg but farmers will feed their good older dogs on the nuts instead of dosing them. Burroughs says the old dog can keep going till the younger one is ready. Only in its infancy, the Wallago programme is hosted on a website vetsafe.co.nz.

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Summary of general information provided by dog food suppliers Product name

Type

Refrigeration needed?

AAFCO status Ingredients list (first 3 only)

Acana Prairie Poultry

Formulated

Chicken meal (25%), steel-cut oats (23%), fresh chicken meat (5%)

N

BlackHawk Working Dog Adult Formula

Approved

Lamb meat meal, beef meat meal, oats

N

Champ Max Biscuits

Formulated

Wheat, meal and bone derived from beef and lamb, animal fat

N

CopRice Working Dog Adult Beef

Formulated

Beef & chicken meat with by-products, rice, cereals

N

CopRice Working Dog Adult Chicken

Formulated

Chicken meat with by-products, rice, cereals

N

CopRice Working Dog Puppy

Formulated

Chicken & beef meat with by-products, rice, cereals

N

CopRice Working Dog Senior

Formulated

Chicken meat with by products, rice, cereals

N

Dogpro Original Working Dog

Formulated

Wholegrain cereals, real meat beef, mutton/lamb & chicken

N

Dogpro Plus Working Dog Active

Formulated

Wholegrain cereals, real meat beef, mutton/lamb & chicken

N

Eukanuba Premium Performance

Approved

Chicken, chicken by-product meal, corn meal

N

Game On

Formulated

Kangaroo meat, wholegrain cereals, poultry meats

N

Hills Science Diet Adult Active

Formulated

Whole grain corn, chicken by-product meal, pork fat

N

K9 Natural Frozen Beef Feast

Frozen raw

No

Beef, beef liver, beef tripe

Y

Mighty Mix Frozen + Large Dog

Frozen concentrate

No

Fats, meats & products derived from meat (beef, mutton, pork), salmon, cereal

Y

Mighty Mix Frozen Concentrate

Frozen concentrate

No

Fats, meats & products derived from meat (beef, mutton, pork), salmon, cereal

Y

Mighty Mix Large Dog Formula

Formulated

Cereal, meat products and fats (beef & mutton), honey

N

Nutrience Performance 30/20 Formula

Formulated

Chicken meal, oatmeal, chicken fat

N

Pedigree Working Dog Formula

Formulated

Meat & meat by-products (poultry, beef &/or lamb), wheat, wheat bran

N

Possyum Supreme

Formulated

NZ Possum meat, lamb & beef, semolina

O

Premium Greyhound Racer for Endurance, stamina & speed

Formulated

Wholegrain cereals, real meat beef, mutton/lamb & chicken

N

PRO PLAN Performance All Sizes All Ages

Approved

Chicken, animal fat, brewers rice

N

PRO PLAN Performance Extreme 32/30

Approved

Chicken, fish, animal fat, oats & wheat protein

N

Royal Canin Endurance 4800

FEDIAF

Dehydrated poultry protein, animal fats, rice

N

Superior Chunky Original

Formulated

NZ beef & lamb, semolina

O

TUX Energy

Approved

Cereals &/or cereal by-products, meat & animal by-products & fats derived from beef/sheep/poultry/goat or venison

N

TUX Energy Extra

Approved

Chicken, beef products, fats (dehydrated chicken and beef protein, beef fat which may contain sheep, venison and goat); cereals and cereal products; natural flavour and vegetable oil

N

Ultra Active Working Dog

Exceeds

Beef meal, ground corn, dried blood

N

Wag Garlic & Rice

Formulated

Chicken, lamb, rice

Y

Wag Original

Formulated

Chicken, beef, lamb

Y

NOTES • AAFCO status: Approved-has passed independent AAFCO testing, considered non-toxic, a complete and balanced diet. Formulated-good intent to meet AAFCO standards but not AAFCO tested. • FEDIAF:- indicates the product complies with the European Federation of Pet Food Manufacturers’ (FEDIAF) standards. AAFCO standards. • Ingredients are listed in order of proportion, highest listed first. Only first three are listed in this table. In general, where the first is a high-quality ingredient, the shorter the full list, the higher the food quality. • Mighty Mix recommends feeding their frozen concentrate with Mighty Mix large dog formula, either together or alternately. • All products listed are claimed to be complete and balanced diets

68 

Kibble Pet roll Biscuit

Made in

North America

Y

Yes

NZ

N

No

Australia

O

Once opened

France Canada USA

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December 2020


Summary of daily rations recommended by dog food suppliers Product name

25kg highly active dog required/day

Pack/price details

Grams of food/day

$/day

Pack size (kg)

RRP ($)

Acana Prairie Poultry

335

2.84

17

149

BlackHawk Working Dog Adult Formula

478

3.2

20

134

Champ Max Biscuits

510

1.33

25

54.99

CopRice Working Dog Adult Beef

400

1.4

20

69.99

CopRice Working Dog Adult Chicken

400

1.4

20

69.99

CopRice Working Dog Puppy

Age dependent

Age dependent

15

59.99

CopRice Working Dog Senior

400

1.4

20

69.99

Dogpro Original Working Dog

450g

1.8

20

80

Dogpro Plus Working Dog Active

450g

1.8

20

80

Eukanuba Premium Performance

355

2.28

20

127

Game On

600

1.8

20

80

Hills Science Diet Adult Active

297

2.67

20.4

183

K9 Natural Frozen Beef Feast

500

4.87

20

194.99

Mighty Mix Frozen + Large Dog

288.5

1.36

25 + 20

101+103

Mighty Mix Frozen Concentrate

225

0.93

25

103

Mighty Mix Large Dog Formula

352

1.78

20

101

Nutrience Performance 30/20 Formula

347

2.06

15

119

Pedigree Working Dog Formula

500

2.09

20

83.5

Possyum Supreme

400

2

2

9.98

Premium Greyhound Racer

450

2.25

20

100

PRO PLAN Performance All Sizes All Ages

508

4.06

20

159.9

PRO PLAN Performance Extreme 32/30

543

4.82

18

159.9

Royal Canin Endurance 4800

550

3.81

20

137

Superior Chunky Original

400

1.51

2.2

8.3

TUX Energy

490

1.5

25

76.5

TUX Energy Extra

410

1.7

20

84.5

Ultra Active Working Dog

200

1.25

20

125

Wag Garlic & Rice

1200

2.96

3

7.39

Wag Original

1200

2.96

3

7.39

PRICES CAN BE MISLEADING • Different bag sizes make the price for each bag irrelevant. Price per kilogram also has little relevance because daily rations vary widely between products. The calculated cost for each dog per day must be balanced against food quality, which should be the major consideration for working dogs. • For hard-working farm dogs, energy is an important factor in assessing rations. A 25kg dog has a resting energy requirement (RER) of about 820kcal per day. For dogs’ mustering, it’s more likely to be three to five times their RER, equating to about 2500kcal4000kcal. • This is a wide range but then so is their workload. Knowing the ME of a specific food means a daily energy requirement (DER) can be used to determine the daily ration of a food needed to provide this energy. • Daily ration (kg) = DER (kcal) /ME (kcal/kg) • For example, the daily ration of 4000kcal/kg to provide 2500kcal: DER = 2500 / 4000 = 0.625kg or 625g. NOTES • A dog’s nutritional requirements vary with size, age, workload, reproductive status and climatic conditions. • Daily rations quoted are those recommended by suppliers and may be based on different nutritional assumptions. • Monitoring body condition is the best way to fine-tune ration sizes for a particular food. • Farm dogs should ideally have a condition score of four on the Nestle Purina Body Condition System: • Ribs easily palpable, with minimal fat covering. • Waist easily noted, viewed from above. • Abdominal tuck evident. • Recommended retail prices from suppliers may vary from those seen at retailers, and bulk purchasing and specials reduce costs. Prices may vary from those in this table. • Prices include GST.

A puppy’s nutritional needs BY: SCOTT WILLIAMS It is estimated that it can cost about $40,000 to provide adequate feed and care for a working dog over its lifetime. As such, it makes economic sense to take whatever steps are necessary to optimise the health, performance and longevity of your dog. Like human nutrition, diet can have a significant impact on health and life expectancy. For young dogs, a balanced diet means a lot more than providing a rich source of protein and energy. It is providing the right combination of more

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December 2020

than 40 essential nutrients in the right amounts, carefully matched with the levels of protein and energy they need to match their rapid growth. Puppies have different nutritional requirements to adult or senior dogs. Providing optimal nutrition throughout the puppy stage will ensure they have the very best start to an agile working career and a long, healthy life. The puppy stage can vary from nine to 24 months, depending on breed. Some working dogs are considered to reach adulthood at about 12 months of age while

other larger breeds like the Huntaway can be growing for at least 18 months. Specific puppy nutrition is easy to justify during early development (up to three months) because the rapid growth is visible to the owner. However, the importance of continuing to provide specific puppy food is often overlooked during the juvenile period, which can last from six months to 21 months. As a result, many owners transition their juvenile dog to adult food too early. However, as there are still important changes occurring in the body Continues

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69


CHOOSE BRAVECTO — LONG LASTING FLEA & TICK PROTECTION IN A SINGLE DOSE IT DOESN’T TAKE LONG FOR A FLEA BURDEN TO DEVELOP WITH TEAMS OF WORKING DOGS • One dose of Bravecto lasts the entire flea life cycle.1 • A great choice for dogs with flea allergy dermatitis. • Safe for use in dogs from 8 weeks of age and 2 kg bodyweight. • Safe for use in breeding, pregnant and lactating dogs, as well as ‘ivermectin sensitive’ Collies. • Bravecto chew for dogs treats and controls demodectic and sarcoptic mange, and ear mites. REMEMBER TO TREAT YOUR FARMS CATS TOO

Visit bravecto.nz to find out more 1. The average flea life cycle lasts 3-8 weeks.

ACVM70 No’s: A011019, A011261 & A011446. Schering-Plough Animal Health Ltd. Phone: 0800 800 543. www.msd-animal-health.co.nz NZ-BRV-200900005 © 2020 Intervet International B.V. All rights reserved.

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December 2020


changing diets too early may impact the dog’s optimal growth and development. Inadequate nutrition during the juvenile stage can leave dogs susceptible to poor growth rate (low levels of zinc, iron, protein or Vitamin A), poor bone structure (imbalance of calcium, phosphorus and Vitamin D) and reduced stamina (low levels of iron, fat and protein). It is strongly recommended they are fed a specific puppy diet until they have completed growing. Supplementation of specific nutrients is not recommended due to the high risk of overdosing or upsetting the balance of nutrients, which can cause lifelong and irreversible issues. For

example, while a deficiency of calcium can cause soft bones and increased fractures, an excess of calcium can cause joint problems and osteoarthritis in later life, especially if it is not balanced appropriately with phosphorus. Optimal nutrition is more important than maximal nutrition, meaning it is vital to not overfeed a puppy. Obesity can cause health issues throughout life. A scientifically-formulated puppy food takes the guesswork out of what nutrition to provide the pup, including the volume of each meal. When choosing what food to buy, look for high quality ingredients, such as

meat and brown rice, which are highly digestible, and for elevated levels of essential fats, DHA, zinc, manganese and Vitamin A. A good choice is a ‘complete and balanced’ ration formulated specifically for puppies. • Scott Williams is CopRice’s nutritional and technical manager for companion animals.

Massey University says there are minimum levels for all of the essential elements in the AAFCO (American Association of Feed Control Officials) regulations. New Zealand pet food conforms to these standards. – Editor.

Summary of nutritional information provided by dog food suppliers Fat (%)

Protein (%)

Fibre (%)

Carbohydrates (%)

Moisture (%)

M Energy (k/cal kg)

Acana Prairie Poultry

17

29

5

29.5

12

3493

BlackHawk Working Dog Adult Formula

22

32

3

23

10

4090

Champ Max Biscuits

15

20

2.5 max

40

10

3200

CopRice Working Dog Adult Beef

15

25

3.8

37

12

3850

CopRice Working Dog Adult Chicken

15

25

3.8

38

12

3850

CopRice Working Dog Puppy

15

29

3.8

36

12

3550

CopRice Working Dog Senior

10

24

4.5

43

12

3200

31.3

10 max

3768

33.2 DM%

9

Product name

Dogpro Original Working Dog

11

23

2

Dogpro Plus Working Dog Active

15

25

2

Eukanuba Premium Performance

20 min

30 min

4 crude max

17

30

2

Hills Science Diet Adult Active

27.2 DM%

31.7 DM%

1.8 DM%

K9 Natural Frozen Beef Feast

Game On

3600 4211

37 min

35 min

2.6

3.7

8 max

5269

Mighty Mix Frozen + Large Dog

53

25

5.1

11.7

31.1

5800

Mighty Mix Frozen Concentrate

53

25

5.1

11.7

31.1

5800

12

23

1.9

42.3

11

3729

20 min

30 min

3.0 max

23

10 max

3920

15

24

2.5

45

9

3600

8 min

21.5 min

1.09 max

65

No data

4000

15

25

2

PRO PLAN Performance All Sizes All Ages

21

30

3 max

31.1

8.5

3900

PRO PLAN Performance Extreme 32/30

30

32

2 max

22.6

7

4640

Royal Canin Endurance 4800

30

32

6

15.9

8 max

4549

Mighty Mix Large Dog Formula Nutrience Performance 30/20 Formula Pedigree Working Dog Formula Possyum Supreme Premium Greyhound Racer for Endurance, stamina & speed

10 min

21 min

1.1 max

62

No data

4000

TUX Energy

18

20

4 max

46.4

8.7

3750

TUX Energy Extra

20

25

4 max

36

8.5

3840

Superior Chunky Original

15 min

30 min

4 max

No data

10 max

3187

Wag Garlic & Rice

28

39

3.7

17

Dry basis

4400

Wag Original

28

39

3.7

18

Dry basis

4350

Ultra Active Working Dog

NOTES

• Content of fat, protein and other ingredients may be specific i.e 20%; or vague i.e at least 20% or up to 20%. • Fat provides the energy for endurance work. Veterinary Enterprises Group (VetEnt) guidelines say hardworking farm dogs should have at least 20% animal fat. • Good-quality protein is needed for repair and recovery. VetEnt’s recommends a minimum of 30% animal protein. • Fibre is the indigestible carbohydrate portion and as a general rule should not be more than 10%.

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December 2020

• Carbohydrates are needed for sprint type energy. • Energy: Farm dogs get most of their energy from fat. Energy may be quoted as “energy”, “gross energy”, “digestible energy” or the most relevant, “metabolisable energy (ME)” which is the energy available to the dog. Energy requirements should consider the intensity, frequency and duration of work. • The consensus of most veterinarians is that a working dog’s diet should be based on high fat and protein and “low” or “low to moderate” carbohydrate. • Nutritional data is presented on a drymatter basis.

71


Grant McMaster General Manager, Closeburn Station Central Otago

Farm life is unpredictable. 72 

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December 2020


With the right food, you can rely on your dogs every day. Grant McMaster has been a farmer for over 40 years. He knows only too well how uncertain farm life can be. Black Hawk Working Dog has been developed specifically for New Zealand working dogs. Packed with 32% real meat proteins and 22% high quality fats, the formula promotes strong, lean muscles and provides sustainable energy throughout the day. ®

® Black Hawk and other associated trademarks are registered trademarks of Masterpet Australia Pty Ltd.

Since Grant has been feeding Black Hawk Working Dog to his dogs, he’s noticed a real difference – “you can see them improving in their muscling, their coats are shinier and they have more energy.”

Available at your rural vet clinic.

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December 2020

workingfarmdogs.co.nz

73


CROP & FORAGE | WEANING

Better feeding lifts the lambing percentage, means an earlier sale and more feed for the ewe to achieve best condition for tupping, lambing and rearing.

Feeding’s impact on profit and condition Careful feed management to achieve good lamb growth and sustain ewe condition is vital to long-term profitability, as Tom Ward explains.

W

eaning date should be guided by two key goals: maximising profit, and protecting ewe condition. These goals are interrelated because lambing percent is about feeding the lamb better. The better the lamb is fed the earlier it is sold. Therefore more feed for the ewe to achieve and maintain the best condition

74 

for tupping, lambing and rearing. In a biological system it is impossible to match feed demand to supply exactly, so a “best guess” approach to annualised winter stocking rates, feeding, and lambing date is used. The point is that whatever the manager sees approaching weaning has been determined largely by decisions made many months prior, and to some extent will be forced upon him or her.

The ewe liveweight declines at lambing, then increases in late lactation. Her intake, however, increases 2-3 weeks into lactation peaking at 8 weeks, with single lamb bearing ewes consuming 2.5kg drymatter (DM)/day and those rearing multiples 3+kg DM/day. Milk production peaks at about four weeks after lambing and declines steadily by 20-25g/day thereafter. Good body condition score (BCS) and nutrition

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December 2020


Continues

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December 2020

››

Compare Gross Margin Jul 20 - Jun 21

Sheep

Weaning Weight 25kg

Weaning Weight 30kg

Weaning Weight 35kg

Sales - Purchases

167,737

173,062

175,216

Wool

24,091

24,524

24,957

191,828

197,586

200,173

Total Sheep

Revenue Crop & Feed

Capital Value Change

-60

-60

-60

Total Feed

-60

-60

-60

191,768

197,526

200,113

Conservation

24,760

24,760

24,760

Forage Crops

12,000

12,000

12,000

Regrassing

12,000

12,000

12,000

Total Crop & Feed

48,760

48,760

48,760

Total Revenue

Crop & Feed

Animal Health

5,008

4,899

4,750

Shearing

10,554

10,554

10,554

Total Stock Costs

15,562

15,454

15,304

Interest on Capital (livestock & feed)

12,933

12,696

12,367

Total Variable Expenses

77,255

76,910

76,431

114,513

120,616

123,682

1,049

1,105

1,133

Expenses Stock costs

Gross Margin Gross Margin per Graze ha

2400

Compare Cover Jul 20 - Jun 21

Pasture cover

2200

kg DM/ha

Weaning weight: 35kg 30kg

2000 1800 1600 1400

25kg

1200 J

45

Weaning weight:

40

30kg 25kg

S

O

N

D

1.2

Liveweight

1.0

kg DM/hd/d

Jul 20 - Jun 21

35kg

A

50

Compare Ewe Lambs

kg

is needed to achieve peak milk, but feeding levels do not really affect the rate of decline. So the higher the peak the greater the potential total milk. Twins stimulate up to 35% more milk production in early lactation and 18% in later lactation. Ewes will put on weight more efficiently when lactating than when dry. They require more total feed to put on weight when lactating than when dry, which may be an unacceptable cost. Furthermore, getting weight back on ewes can be difficult due to quantity and quality constraints. It is cheaper to maintain liveweight than increase it. Consequently, on summer-dry farms ewes should be weaned at the target BCS for mating. Ewe BCS is very important – wean at 3-3.5. Any thinner ones can be retained and fed preferentially (unless an obvious cull) until mating. This is in case they are thin because they have reared multiples. If not at target 3-3.5 by mating they should be culled. The point here is that all ewes need to be BCS 3-3.5. An average of 3 (or even 3.5) with some below 3 is not a good result. There is no benefit in having a BCS greater than 3.5. With respect to the lamb, the animal can digest pasture from two weeks of age. However, if weaned before 6-8 weeks it will suffer and cannot totally make up for the lack of milk through eating more pasture. Lamb growth rate from milk peaks between 20 and 40 days of age, at 250-350gm/day on average. In order to maintain high growth rates in late lactation, pasture ME needs to exceed 10.5. Single lambs consume more milk and grow faster than multiples – about 80g/day faster than twins in early lactation and 35g/ day faster in late lactation. To make up for a lack of milk, multiple lambs are forced to eat grass earlier, so pasture quality is very, very important for multiple lambs. Although short ryegrass can be as nutritious as clover, the quality issue also highlights the advantage of sub clover pastures (early spring) in dry climates, and lucerne or other specialist lamb feeds (late spring). Do not underestimate the potential for poor pasture quality. An ungroomed pasture, appearing to be

35 30

J

F

M

A

M

J

Intake

0.8 0.6 0.4 0.2

25 J A S O N D J F M A M J

J A S O N D J F M A M J

Above: The tables all have the same stock numbers, lambing percent (153%) and grass growth. The weaning weights are, respectively, 25kg, 30kg and 35kg. In each case the lambs are slaughtered at 42kg liveweight. The tables show, with increasing weaning weight, an increased gross margin, increased average pasture cover at 30 June 2021, and increasing ewe lamb liveweight at 30 June 2021.

75


Avoid a flock up There are so many benefits to using electronic sheep tags in your flock this season. Especially when it comes to ewe selection and lamb growth rates. Make sure you check out our ‘Raise the Baa’ magazine showcasing farmers across the country using EID tags to improve flock performance. Sent out with the annual Country-Wide Sheep edition to rural mailboxes in October. Contact customer service for additional copies on 06 3567199 or email custserv@allflex.co.nz www.allflex.global/nz

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December 2020


The profitability of keeping a ewe above BCS 3.0 for tupping is more than 40c/kg DM compared with lamb finishing at 17c. good quality at first glance, could easily be 50% dead and stem, meaning ME is only 9.0. Conversely, that apparent small margin from buying spring cattle could be surprisingly profitable when improved lamb weaning weights from cattle grooming are factored in. Early rumen development is important because by docking, 80% of lamb intake is pasture and speed of rumen development is driven by energy – milk and quality grass. A 20kg lamb has twice the protein requirements of a 40kg lamb, and milk is an important source of that protein. Of course, given quality pasture, bigger milking ewes (East Friesian, Poll Dorset) will feed multiples to a higher level. If ewes and lambs are well fed, then weaning between 8-12 weeks will reduce lamb growth. Lighter lambs often suffer less of a weaning check so it may be better not to wean single lambs within 2-3kg of sale weight. If feed is short, consider early weaning; however, lambs need to be at least 16kg LW, and the quality of forage post weaning is the greatest determinant of post-weaning liveweight gain. Ideally,

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December 2020

early-weaned lambs need access to legume based forages at a minimum cover of 7cm in height. Do not graze below 1200kg DM/ha.

BIGGER LAMBS, MORE OPTIONS Obviously, having bigger lambs at weaning gives you more money, but also more options – fewer lambs onfarm after weaning mean more feed for other stock, reduced parasite challenge, opportunities to trade, and better hogget and 2-tooth mating results. Sale value drives lamb sale date and influences weaning date. Lamb schedules traditionally fall from December to April, so if you cannot grow the lamb fast enough to keep ahead of the falling schedule, then sell it. This also applies to store lambs. Early lamb sales are generally the most positive so the manager may sell unweaned lambs, ewes and lambs all counted, or ewes. This may also be a trap in a growthy season – lamb schedules may hold up as meat companies compete for a limited supply of livestock, encouraging farmers to retain lambs onfarm. This

will cause some farmers to develop an unseen feed deficit (or light ewes) as lambs compete for feed that should be given to ewes and ewe lambs. BCS scoring should therefore never be done by eye because experience shows farmers tend to underestimate the number of thin ewes. In one study in a growthy year, seven out of 10 farms had at least 50% of their ewes at BCS below 3. The profitability of keeping a ewe above BCS 3.0 for tupping is more than 40c/kg DM compared with lamb finishing at 17c.

ANIMAL HEALTH Briefly, for ewes and lambs remember vaccinations, drenches, micronutrients, udders, feet, teeth and age. Minimise yarding of lambs to reduce pneumonia from dust. Watch for stress on lambs from changing feed types. Don’t forget the rams and ewe hoggets – in theory it is easy to grow out hoggets but they get squeezed by the need to finish sale lambs and to tup, winter and lamb ewes. All livestock do better on troughed water than from creeks and dams. To keep lambs growing, move them before they need to be moved. • Tom Ward is an Ashburton farm consultant 027 855 7799, email: tfward@xtra.co.nz.

77


ENVIRONMENT | FRESHWATER

Several hill country farmers spoken to were concerned about the cost of fencing waterways.

Concern over stock exclusion rules BY: SANDRA TAYLOR

STOCK EXCLUSION ANGST

he Government’s Essential Freshwater regulations were announced in August and aspects have caused concern in the farming community. The scale and pace of new regulations is the reason given for a drop in farmer morale with recent UMR research. It showed only 32% of farmers in the southern South Island had confidence in the future of New Zealand’s sheep and beef industry. This is down 27% on the last quarter. Nationally, 46% of farmers surveyed were confident in the future of their industry. Farmers spoken to by Country-Wide have expressed particular concern about stock exclusion regulations and uncertainty about winter grazing requirements such as pugging rules and the practicality of resowing dates.

By July 1, 2023, all dairy cattle (except dairy grazers) and pigs must be excluded from rivers and lakes more than a metre wide with a minimal set-back of three metres. By July 1, 2025, dairy grazers must all also be excluded from all lakes and rivers along with beef cattle and deer where the land is low slope (less than 10 degrees) as identified on Ministry for the Environment maps. Several hill country farmers spoken to were concerned about the cost of fencing waterways with one farmer having 8km of river frontage through his extensive farm. They were also worried about the infestation of woody weeds within fenced riparian margins. On a recent Ministry for the Environment webinar, chief adviser Bryan Smith, said under the regulations, there is no requirement to fence off lakes, rivers and some wetlands, it is simply a requirement to keep stock three metres

T

78 

away from these water bodies. “You may use an electric or temporary fence or elect not to put cattle, deer or pigs in that paddock.” He acknowledged there will be also be natural barriers, such as bluffs that will keep stock away from waterways therefore fencing would not be required. Another area of concern for farmers, Federated Farmers and Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) is the Ministry for the Environment’s low slope maps. These maps, at the heart of stock exclusion regulations, incorrectly identify areas of low slope land parcels or partparcels that have a mean slope is less than or equal to 10 degrees. Smith said the ministry acknowledged the anomaly and said the way they were mapped, which looked at the average slope of land parcels, picked up large areas of steeper land. This type of country was not originally intended to be captured by the regulations. Federated Farmers’ Chris Allen says the low slope maps take in some hill and high country that is so steep, the farmers would need to pay for helicopters to lift poles and other supplies in order to fence the waterways. The increase in pastoral land now defined as ‘low slope’ has increased from the 3.8 million hectares consulted on by the government in 2019, to 6 million ha in the MfE maps now published. Smith said the minister has asked staff to look at the maps and MfE is also seeking farmer feedback to get a sense of the scale of the inaccuracies and possible solutions. They are asking farmers to fill in an online form but farmers can also email MfE directly. MfE expects to have solutions for the minister to consider within the next five months. B+LNZ is calling for MfE to scrap the low slope maps altogether. The organisation’s environmental policy manager Corina Jordan says while B+LNZ acknowledges the basic principle of the rule and agrees more intensively farmed stock on low slope land should be fenced from rivers or streams over one metre wide, extensively grazed land, including land above 10 degrees, should not require stock exclusion by fencing. “Given the scale of the inaccuracies, B+LNZ would prefer the map was scrapped

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December 2020


GRAZING RULES HEADACHE FOR ARABLE

MPI says there is no requirement for permanent fences so an electric fence and natural boundaries would suffice.

completely and replaced with a general rule that regional councils would be empowered to give effect to. “This could be through either a 10 degree slope-trigger based at the paddock scale or by undertaking their own regional mapping.” Another area of confusion is river or stream crossings. The regulations state that if stock (cattle, deer or pigs) are moved through a waterway more than twice a month then a bridge or culvert must be built. Confusion arises when a single herd or mob is broken into smaller groups for crossing and how the rules would apply. Smith said the ministry was considering this and will provide clarification.

WINTER GRAZING CONSENT NEEDED All farmers will need a consent to graze winter forage crops unless they meet the following criteria: • Their land is on less than a 10-degree slope. • No more than 50ha or 10% of their farm is in a winter forage crop. The area cannot be greater than what has already been under a winter forage crop between 2014-2019. • The crop is set back at least five metres from a waterway. • Pugging is no deeper than 20cm and covers no more than 50% of the total paddock are irrespective of depth. • Paddocks must be re-sown by October 1 (November 1 in Southland and Otago). • Have a Certified Freshwater Farm Plan (this has yet to be developed). It is expected most farmers will need a consent from their regional council to

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December 2020

graze forage crops next winter. This does not need to be applied for until May 1, 2021. B+LNZ has stated many farmers would be unable to meet what they describe as the arbitrary re-sowing dates for winter grazing on forage crops because of regional conditions such as temperature, late season rain and snow. The impracticality of these regulations was highlighted in Southland this spring when very wet conditions made it impossible for farmers to get machinery on to paddocks. B+LNZ also say the pugging standards, even though they have been reviewed by the government, remain unworkable for cattle and even sheep systems. These standards state that pugging must be limited to a depth of 20cm and cover less than 50% of the paddock regardless of depth. The definition of pugging was changed to the “penetration of soil more than 5cm and the rules have been clarified to state that the 20cm pugging depth limit does not apply around fixed structures such as fixed water troughs and gateways.

WHAT IS BEING DONE Federated Farmers and B+LNZ continue to meet with both central Government and regional councils to try and find practical solutions to impractical regulations. Both state that while they agree with the fundamental objectives of the policy - to stop further degradation of waterways, show material improvement within five ways and reverse past damage within a generation - it is the devil in the detail that is cause for concern.

For the arable industry, the new rules around winter-grazing are causing the biggest headaches. FAR’s Environmental Research Manager, Diana Mathers, says winter gazing is a key component of many arable enterprises and growers are working through two particular issues. She says meeting the newly introduced replanting deadlines is probably the most common area of concern. The addition of sheep into the winter-grazing equation is also taking some figuring out, as many arable crops are both grazed and harvested for seed. Growers on rolling hill country are also trying to get their heads around the rules about slope. Winter grazing aside, Mathers says the arable industry is in a good place with regard to meeting the Freshwater Plan requirements. She says they’re not affected by the nitrogen cap, as there is an understanding that arable farmers base N applications around crop growth stages and potential yields. As far as farm environment plans go, the existing arable template only required a couple of tweaks to meet the new rules. “It’s hard for everyone, the farmers and the industry groups and advisors trying to help them. Mather says change is coming so fast even regional councils are caught between a rock and a hard place. They've already got plans developed and then new things come on board. “But I do believe we’ll get there.” She says the key thing is to ensure they can figure it out and remain profitable. That’s a big focus for FAR.

In a joint statement, they call on farmers to be active in working with their communities and regional councils over the next three to five years to help shape regional plans and ensure the plans are workable, enable flexibility and innovation and are matched to environmental risk. • See Environmental Regulation Timeline p26.

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ENVIRONMENT | COMPLIANCE

The ORC says it will take an education first approach and work with farmers.

Regional council seeks collaboration BY: JOANNA CUTTANCE

T

he Otago Regional Council wants to help farmers achieve compliance with the new national environmental standards. The council’s regulatory general manager, Richard Saunders said to do this it would work with the community in a collaborative and educational way. As a regulator, the ORC had a statutory responsibility to ensure the rules contained within the new national standards were met, and the organisation had been speaking to their farming communities to understand which areas were of most concern. One was how the rule around pugging

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would be enforced. The rule states, pugging landowners to identify the reasons nonwhich means the penetration of soil of compliance may be occurring and how more than 5cm is to be no deeper than it could be avoided in the future,” 20cm and must cover less than 50% of the Saunders says. paddock (this does not apply around fixed Consents for winter grazing will be structures). able to be lodged early in 2021. Saunders says pugging could Saunders says the length of time be checked as part of routine on a consent would be granted for farm compliance monitoring would depend on the application. or as a result of a complaint He encourages farmers to apply being received. ORC staff would for multiple years and for the always have a discussion with whole farm within the one the farmer concerned to identify consent. More details about the any potential issues and most information required to support Richard Saunders. importantly identify whether an application would be on the there is likely to be any environmental ORC website later this year. effects from pugging identified on site. “If a consent cannot be granted a staff “An education first approach will be member will discuss the reasons why and taken and ORC will work with farmers and talk through options to make amendments

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‘An education first approach will be taken and ORC will work with farmers and landowners to identify the reasons noncompliance may be occurring and how it could be avoided in the future.’ to the application. If it is determined that a consent is required but has not been applied for, it is expected that a consent application will be made,” he says. The ORC is looking at options to be more efficient with the resources they had, when it came to monitoring farms. This may include using drones although this was yet to be confirmed. If drones are used in the future it would be on the basis that landowners would be notified and the reasons for the visit explained. For example, it might be possible to monitor a number of winter grazing paddocks for compliance much more quickly and efficiently with a drone. The compliance monitoring would be carried out by a staff member in consultation with the consent holder. Another option to be considered was more frequent use of fixed wing planes. The ORC undertook this once a year but this number was likely to increase in future. It is unlikely ORC would have the

resources to visit every farm but they would be trying to visit as many as possible. Where a consent had been issued and an inspection was occurring, the farmer would need to have a copy of the consent ready, along with any relevant information to demonstrate that the conditions of the consent were being complied with. Where the visit is the result of a complaint, it is likely there would be a phone call ahead of the visit, Saunders says. “Often a complaint can be due to a lack of understanding of the rules from the caller. This can sometimes be clarified over the phone and not require a follow up visit,” he says. If a site visit is required, Saunders encourages farmers to work with the ORC staff member to discuss any issues and whether changes to management practices need to occur. The ORC is trying to provide as much detailed guidance as possible to give farmers confidence when making

Pugging must cover less than 50% of a paddock (this does not apply around fixed structures).

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If the ORC uses drones it would be on the basis that landowners would be notified and the reasons for the visit explained.

assessments about their land and fact sheets and frequently asked questions are being developed to assist people to interpret the new rules. Consistency is crucial, he says. For the grey areas, like identifying some waterways, in cases where it might not be absolutely clear, a conversation with an ORC staff member should help to resolve any outstanding issues and give farmers some confidence around how the rules would be applied. The whole ORC regulatory team of 40 members, visited a South Otago sheep and beef farm, and a dairy farm, in October, for an onfarm training day to help visualise the effects the new standards would have on farmers. “We know there is a lot of additional work coming for both ourselves and our farming community.” He appreciated the changes would be felt more acutely in Otago than that of some other regions because of the ORC previous plan framework. “We want to make sure our processes are easy to follow and information is easy to find,” Saunders says. One of the things identified was the need to add additional resources to the ORC team. In particular, consent planners and compliance officers. Saunders says they had advertised for a number of roles already but there was likely to be further opportunities in the future. “We are particularly interested in applicants who had experience working in the rural sector.”

• For more information about the National Environmental Standards see www.orc.govt.nz/managing-ourenvironment/water/new-water-rules

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Selling stock takes

good relationships The more information Brenden Clay has, the better the job he can do for clients. Karen Trebilcock explains why.

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renden Clay is in it for the long game as a PGG Wrightson dairy rep based in Southland. After two years in the position, the 31-year-old said he’s now finding his feet. “I enjoy it. It’s a lot different to what I expected, a lot harder, more cut-throat, but I enjoy building the relationships with my clients and other agents and that’s what makes it work. “It’s about joining the dots for people. We have to have strong relationships with clients and colleagues and I’m starting to build those, and it’s the snowball effect.” The position is salary based with bonuses for targets met. “It’s good for a young person like me starting out. PGG Wrightson have invested in me and given me a shot. The main goal for me now is to add as much value to PGG Wrightson Livestock and my client’s businesses.” Brenden does everything from selling herds to finding young stock grazing, winter grazing for cows, supplying service bulls, selling feeder and weaner calves as well as culls and store stock. When the Covid-19 lockdown happened in March the first thing on his mind was the large number of cows his clients either had sold or still had to sell before moving to a new home come June 1. “Our business was classed as essential, with very strict rules in place for our own safety as well as our clients. “But I had a lot of clients who were stressing that come June their cows needed to be somewhere else.” However, culls eventually got to the works

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Brenden Clay with cows wintering on fodder beet through a PGG Wrightson contract. and herds were sold and the weather in April and May was “unreal”, helping it all happen. Coming from a farming family, he knew he was going to Lincoln and did the three-year bachelor of agriculture degree there. “I went to James Hargest College in Invercargill but I spent as much time as possible on farms, crutching lambs in the weekends and milking in the holidays.” His first job out of varsity was as a field rep for the then CRT, and after that he went dairying. Four seasons of contract milking up to 600 cows in Southland later, he decided on a change of direction and at the same time was asked to apply for a position with PGG Wrightson. “I went to the interview, went through the whole process and I got the job.” He started as a trainee in January 2018

and by spring that year moved up to be the southern Southland dairy representative, part of a team of nine in the PGG Wrightson’s southern dairy region. He is in daily contact with the members of the team using WhatsApp and Agonline, and also talks with other PGG Wrightson stock agents throughout the country, such as Murray Bain in Otago. Brenden said Friesians were popular in the south because of the live heifer export market, and there were also those seeking out A2A2 genetics especially as Open Country Dairy was paying a premium for that milk. A herd profile was all important when it came to selling. “A fully recorded herd with good records and herd tests is always the easiest to sell. People want to know everything such as BW and PW,

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age splits, somatic cells, breed makeup, production per cow and per hectare, inputs. “The more information I have, the easier it is to do my job. There is nothing worse than taking someone to see a herd and arriving and it’s not what they were looking for.” He said presentation was also key and sometimes waiting a few weeks for a herd to put on a bit more condition made a sale happen. “Sometimes we take out the old cows and sell them separately and anything not up to scratch. You don’t want to give people an opportunity to pick holes.” He said some people chased BW but others were looking for cows with capacity. Replacing M bovis herds has kept the price up in the south this year but with that ending the emphasis would be on improving existing herds through sourcing livestock with improved genetics and conformation as well as utilising the opportunities in the live export market, he said. “The industry is changing with fewer conversions. With corporate farming and equity partnerships more prevalent there is reduced opportunity for 50:50 sharemilkers, however good management positions are being created within the industry.” He doesn’t see a time where stock agents won’t be needed. “We’ve got a robust contract system for the buying and selling of dairy livestock. It means the money will be paid and the stock will arrive when they should and go when they should. We give peace of mind. “Grazing is also a big part of the business with our grazing contracts helping stock owners and the graziers by outlining the expectations of each party. We identify any possible issues, and monitoring stock welfare is crucial to the success of a grazing arrangement.” When he’s not out looking at cows, playing rugby for Wyndham or hunting, Brenden can be found under the water near Bluff or Stewart Island or somewhere in between. And then there’s Doubtful or Milford Sounds in Fiordland, also close by. With a 5mm wetsuit, weight belt, fins, mask and snorkel he can free dive down to 15m with a spear gun after fish or chasing crays. However, he says paua are a bit boring – they just sit there. He has friends with boats but buying his own is on his wish list, and he has no ambition to do a scuba course and gain a PADI certification. “It would just feel like cheating.” • First published in NZ Dairy Exporter, October issue.

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ABOVE: Brenden Clay says he doesn’t see a time when stock agents won’t be needed. LEFT:

PGG Wrightson dairy reps Brenden Clay (left) and Murray Bain.

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COMMUNITY | HIKING

Getting into the back blocks of Island Hills Station is an absolute treat, and possible for everyone now that the walking track is open again. Restoring bush and focusing on conservation areas is a major focus, and walkers have the treat of passing through the QE11 reserve.

A whole new wilderness BY: ANNABELLE LATZ

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t was smoko time for Shaun Monk up at Island Hills Station. He was taking a five minute break from his chainsawing work, lying on his back on the hiking trail he was in the middle of cutting. “I looked up into the beech trees and saw the territorial battle of a bellbird versus a tui. Although he was much smaller, the bellbird won, puffing his chest up to make himself bigger. It was so cool to watch.” There are so many reasons Kiwis love exploring their own backyard, and for Shaun, getting close to nature is just one of them. Turn the clock back to May, the end of

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lockdown was around the corner, and up at Island Hills Station in North Canterbury the ideas cogs were turning. Shaun Monk would be one of the first to admit his pocket suffered due to Covid-19, with no guided hunting right through the heavily booked red stag roar. But this downtime also provided a chance to think about the future. Owners of Island Hills Station Dan and Mandy Shand used to run a very successful hiking business on their farm called Hurunui High Country Track. After a bit of discussion over a cup of tea in late autumn they collectively decided a rebirth of this venture was a great idea. Thus, Island Hills Station walking track was born.

GPS tracking, utilising trails already there set by wildlife, scrub-cutting and being on the end of the chainsaw has been a familiar way of life on and off for a couple of years for Shaun as he was establishing trails for a guided hunting business. But since May and the plan for the revamped walking track, it’s been full noise. “I figured, I might as well go for it, put all resources into it. Go balls in.” Island Hills Station is 7000 hectares, of which half is low-input extensive sheep and beef farming, the remainder being non-grazed reserve, including Canterbury’s biggest parcel of QE11 Covenant at 600ha. Shaun, originally from the West Coast, came out to Island Hills Station several

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Left: There’s a fair bit of organising involved with supplying the huts for the walkers at Island Hills Station, but Shaun Monk takes it all in his stride. Below: Shaun Monk spent hundreds of hours, alongside willing helpers, to get the track up to scratch before it opened in October. He says although it was hard work, it was thoroughly enjoyable.

years ago for a visit to do some hunting and recreation. “It was so diverse, around every corner was a new hidden gem, a new gully, or grassy knob.” The walking track opened in October, the self-guided two or three day hike taking in the rolling hills of the farmland, and the conservation land boasting forests of regenerating beech and manuka, filled with the sounds of bell birds and an increasing number of other native species. “I’ve seen tui, Tom tit, fantail, wax eye, wood pigeon, bush robin, morepork, kakariki….. shall I continue?” He says over the past several years there’s been a noticeable increase in bird numbers. Bush Hut and The Valley Camp are the two well equipped huts on the track, with hikers arriving on the evening pre departure and enjoying a night at the Cook House down by the homestead. The trails are well marked and achievable for anyone with a keen spirit for adventure and a few kilometres of walking under their belt. It’s technical enough to make it feel like a real back country adventure, yet still allows for a sense of relaxation, especially when all of your gear is carted to the huts for you.

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‘I’ve seen tui, Tom tit, fantail, wax eye, wood pigeon, bush robin, morepork, kakariki... shall I continue?’ “The track definitely has some challenges, but we will focus on ensuring it is safe.” Mount Skedaddle stands at 1700m and those keen for an extra few kilometres are more than welcome to ask Shaun for a guided hike to its summit. “I want to keep the guided off-trail options open too, there is always someone keen for an extra challenge.” The close presence of history is hard to miss. Track markers including names like Upham allow the mind to cast a thought to who once graced this land. “And that trail over there,” Shaun says, pointing to a well worn grassy trail near the base of the Organ Mountain lying to the west, “was a well used packhorse track from the northern part of the South Island through to the West Coast before the Lewis Pass road was built.” Even on the worst weather day, life is

not too bad up at Island Hills Station. Shaun says the Nor’West trickles over bringing a bit of wind, but not too much rain. “It’s very forgiving here, it would be a very rare occurrence that a booking will be cancelled due to the weather.” The keen conservationist will enjoy hunting guiding in the cooler months when the trails are closed. “I was sitting sharpening my chainsaw a few weeks ago at Organ Creek when I heard some sloshing in the water. I looked up and saw four deer, who just all stopped a few meters away and looked at me. They paused, then walked away. It was such a nice encounter.” The long term goal is to up the predator control efforts on the farm to the point where introducing endangered birds could become possible. “Imagine having kiwi roaming around here, I’d love to see that in my lifetime.” Shaun said it was a lot of hard work and he and his helpers were going “hell for leather” to get it done. “I still haven’t seen every part of this place yet. It’s such a cool farm to explore, and it excites me to show this to people.” www.islandhillsstation.com

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COMMUNITY | VIDEO

Zoom without the gloom BY: KIRSTIN MILLS

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uring lockdown, video calls replaced in-person meetings for many people. We got familiar with Zoom, Facetime, House Party, Skype or other platforms. Now lockdown is over in New Zealand some organisations are sticking with video meetings to save travel costs – both in time and money. Despite how prevalent TV news interviews by video call have become, I am often surprised at how amateurish interviewees look. I know an epidemiologist or an economist is not a videographer but it is not hard to look professional whether it is for TV or a work meeting. First, regardless of the platform you are using, check out the programme’s settings to see what you can do. Many have the option to mute the sound (which I recommend) and block the video when you first join a meeting so you can make sure you’re ready before being heard and seen. Second, test your camera before any meeting. I recently had a Zoom call with friends who sat with their backs to their admittedly lovely view. The view was great but none of us could see their faces. Face towards the light and, if you can,

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use natural light; if not, use a lamp. Avoid a light directly above you that will cast shadows, usually resulting in dark circles appearing under your eyes. During your camera test also look at the position of your camera. Raise or lower your device so the camera is at your eye level or slightly above. If you have it too low, double chins may materialise on your face. Do not sit too close. Webcams often have wide angle cameras and if you sit too close, you will look distorted.

Try to avoid jewellery that jangles or catches the light. And just in case you need to get up – please wear pants. Make sure your background is not cluttered and is free of anything that may offend. Your room does not have to be sterile, but make sure it is tidy and not distracting. Some platforms let you have fun with backgrounds – you can choose from their offerings or use your own photos or video. If you are going down that route for a work call, obviously choose something that you are confident your boss or colleagues will be okay with. Dress appropriately for your work but

watch out for tops that have patterns that are too distracting and avoid stripes, which can cause a strobing effect. Try to avoid jewellery that jangles or catches the light. And just in case you need to get up – please wear pants. Third, test your audio. Using a headset with a built in microphone is a good option – it can help block out noise around you, particularly if you are at home and there might be noisy children or animals. Note that sound is best when dampened down by the fabric present in a lounge or bedroom while a bathroom’s hard surfaces result in a lot of echo. Shutting down other programmes and apps will help the video run more smoothly, and if you have a computer, plugging directly into your modem by ethernet cable can help with data speed. If you are in a regular meeting, attendees will usually focus on whoever is talking. You can zone out for a bit without being seen. But on a video call you are always on screen so if you are fidgeting, staring off into the distance vacantly or checking your phone, it will be more noticeable. That is one of the reasons video calls are so tiring – you must stay engaged (or at least look like you are) the entire time. Oh, and people will also be able to see if you are checking yourself out – so do any adjustments to your posture and hair before the meeting starts!

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COMMUNITY | DIVERSIFICATION

Selling the fine wool story BY: REBECCA HARPER

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arah Reed was wanting to find her purpose as a young rural mum and contribute to their family farming business. It drove her to set up her new clothing venture, The Grumpy Merino. The business offers base layer of fine wool, sourced directly from the Reeds’ own Merino flock and made into traceable garments by Devold of Norway. Sarah and her husband Jono, along with Jono’s parents, farm high country sheep and beef station “The Grampians” in Culverden, North Canterbury. As well as cattle and their Angus stud they run a flock of 5500 Merinos. The Reeds had already been supplying wool to Devold for three years when Sarah hit on the idea of completing the supply chain of Grampians wool – from the ewe in the paddock to the finished garment – during lockdown. “I think it was about day 50 of lockdown with three kids under six. My brain was dead and I needed to do something. She felt like she had lost a bit of her identity. “So I wrote down a heap of ideas of what I could do.” The Reeds were buying in Devold beanies to give to their bull clients, and Sarah decided to ask if she could buy back the garments made with the wool from their farm and sell them herself. Amazed no one had thought of it before, she got stuck straight in when they said “Yes”. After shearing, the wool from The Grampians is transported to Christchurch for testing to ensure it meets the Devold criteria. For the contract the Reeds supply the micron must be about 19. Other criteria include length and strength, breaking point, colour and softness. Jono says it is a fine line between improving function traits of their Merino flock and maintaining wool quality. The goal has been to improve resilience in the flock, making it more easy-care. Key traits targeted are lifting the lambing percentage and lamb survival, improving constitution and eliminating foot issues.

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Sarah Reed with Hank, 6, Greta, 3, and Alba, 10 months, and some of The Grampians Merino ewe flock.

Wool that meets the Devold criteria is sent to its mill in Lithuania where it is developed into garments. Sarah places her order – which designs she wants and the quantities – and buys directly from Devold. Sarah developed The Grumpy Merino name, concept and website herself. She does her own marketing, social media and photography, and set up a platform to sell clothes through shopify. The name, The Grumpy Merino, came about by blending the words Grampians and Stumpy (Jono’s dad’s nickname). Sarah buys the garments wholesale but has import and government tax to contend with. It’s early days but she hopes the business will become a viable stand-alone enterprise and contribute financially to the overall success of the wider farming operation. Packaging and postage also proved difficult. Jono is the third generation to farm The Grampians, and the couple have three children, Hank, 6, Greta 3, and Alba 10 months. “The whole brand and concept is eco-friendly and sustainable so I wanted to follow that through the product and packaging. You have a beautiful garment, packaged in recycled paper and posted in a 100% compostable courier bag. Postage

is a cost and is tricky as it depends where people live.” The couple decided to take a hit on postage and do a flat rate, $5 for the South Island and $10 for the North Island, and are hoping it pays off. Her big focus at the moment is building brand awareness and getting people to try the product so they can experience for themselves how good it is. “The garments are all European designed. It’s an outstanding, quality product but I need to get it out there, have people see it and wear it. “It’s an amazing product – I want everyone to enjoy wearing it. The softness, it’s silky smooth and so beautiful to wear. Of course it has the other great wool properties – it’s temperature regulating and keeps you cool when it’s hot and warm when it’s cold, it’s breathable, doesn’t hold odour, draws moisture away from the body, it’s biodegradable, natural – I could go on. “The thing I love, the inspiration behind it all, is the story.” She can walk out the back door with the kids to see the ewes – what they’re eating, what they’re doing. “We can follow the whole process and get returned with a garment.” Website: grumpy-merino.co.nz

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SOLUTIONS | OVERSEER

Emissions analysis beneficial

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heep and beef farmer Rob Buddo says he mainly uses Overseer to demonstrate compliance with requirements for the local catchment – but he sees significant future benefits around its emissions analysis function. “We have been using it for a year or so, since OverseerFM became available,” says Rob, who farms 825 hectares as part of a five-farm group in Poukawa, Hawke’s Bay. “Our consultant and I both use it. It isn’t difficult to understand. The interface is very good, it’s pretty intuitive and fairly easy to navigate. “It does require inputting of data and I extrapolate the biological data from Farmax and feed that into Overseer to see if that works environmentally. My ideal would be to see collaboration across the two apps to get things working together.” The Buddo sheep and beef farms overwinter about 14,000 stock units in total. Two of the properties are within the Tukituki catchment and require environment plans, including nutrient budgets.

The advanced online OverseerFM software is designed specifically for farmers and their advisors and analyses the flow of nutrients through a farm, based on the management practices applied. This produces annual budgets for seven key farm nutrients. It also includes a GHG emissions analysis tool, which provides a farm specific methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide results by source, and the ability to model carbon sequestration of tree blocks with the recently added carbon stock tool. Rob Buddo. Rob sees the emissions analysis tool being of significant use in the future, to support working towards carbon neutral status. The farm group is part of the Atkins Ranch farmer-owned supply co-operative, which supplies lamb and lamb products to high-end Whole Foods Market in the United States and Canada. Rob says that achieving carbon neutral status would be a strong marketing

advantage. He likes the way overseer has split out the GHG emissions into the methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide. “It’s the first model I’ve seen that does that and it’s doing it at a high level. “I see change around emissions being driven by a marketing perspective, rather than a compliance one. Whole Foods is a fantastic market for New Zealand produce. We already have a strong point of difference at Atkins Ranch around animal welfare and the way we farm, but I would love to have a system here that is carbon neutral too. He is interested in the science around methane as a short-lived gas. The goal would be to have a system that is scientifically and biologically robust and accounts for equilibrium around methane – that’s where I see Overseer being very valuable to us in the future.” – Supplied by Overseer.

Hemp trial leads to skincare export

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new skincare line inspired by a government-funded hemp research project into the restoration of soil in vineyards has launched for the export market. New industry figures show nutraceutical hemp could be a $2 billion industry for New Zealand. Cosmetic brand Hark & Zander was founded after a successful trial into the use of industrial hemp as a way of improving soil quality and vineyard biodiversity was co-funded by Callaghan Innovation, the government’s R&D agency. Co-founder and Marlborough vineyard manager Kirsty Harkness began looking at hemp as an alternative to seaweed fertilisers, effective microorganisms and estate-made compost which rejuvenate

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the soil but without taking nutrients or moisture from the vines or negatively impacting the grapes or wine. Cumulative years of soil compaction and nutrient deficiency take its toll on the health of any vineyard, she says, and it's important to ensure the life cycle is not just sustainable but also regenerative. “I had trialled blue borage, red clover, phacelia and buckwheat as cover crops in the vineyard but it wasn’t until I looked at hemp as not only a way of breathing life back into the soil but also as a potential secondary revenue source that I really got excited. “In the same way the human body needs to be healthy to be resistant to disease and infection, the soil also responds to this methodology. Once we were confident the

The finished product.

hemp wouldn't take nutrients or moisture from the vines, we began looking at the potential benefits of hemp for the body as well,” she says.

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SOLUTIONS | AWARD

Rob Dick: Start with the soil.

‘In wetland areas, some plants will grow a lot quicker than on dryer areas.’

The right balance

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airarapa sheep farmer Rob Dick is on a mission to reduce his farm’s environmental footprint as quickly as possible – and his approach starts with the soil. The actions he’s taking to manage his carbon footprint earned him an award in the Greater Wellington’s 2020 Ballance Farm Environment Awards. Rob’s understanding of how land-use impacts climate has led to careful soil and fertiliser management, significant native planting and the installation of extensive drainage. He’s made huge environmental strides while continuing to maintain a highly productive hogget grazing operation and strong community connections. “It’s a lot of work but when you start seeing results, you quite enjoy the process,” Rob says. Rob believes respecting soil structure should be a farmer’s top priority, with it ultimately leading to a boost in live-weight gain. “Soil is the farm’s life really – if you get the soil right, the production and the rest of the farming system will follow suit.” As such, it’s critical to protect soil

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from damage such as pugging, and to make careful planting choices. Easterbo’s soil is predominantly clay, with limited top soil, and Rob has switched from grass to plantain and red clover to help affix nitrate into it. This has resulted in healthier plants, less need for fertiliser and – ultimately – has boosted lamb growth rates. “I lamb in October and the plantain is good for producing milk in the ewes – resulting in good weaner weights in a short space of time. Red clover is good for growth rates too, especially on the clay soils. “I’m trying to set up a system that uses different herbs to produce a quick

TOP TIPS: • Respect and protect the soil • Divide your property into different profiles • Seek advice on planting, particularly from regional councils • Take time out for yourself and to get involved in the community

liveweight gain before summer comes along and we restock again. It’s also a good idea to look at your stock policy. A lot of farms stick with the status quo and it’s good to challenge that and look at other options.” A good idea for farmers and growers who want to reduce their carbon footprint is to divide the farm into three profiles. Identify the most productive areas, those that are less used, and any in the middle, Rob says. “Identify what you can fix more quickly and get onto that, rather than trying to do the whole farm. It’s also good to identify the weak spots – for example, a lot of my native planting has been done in damp, relatively unused areas.” Since 2008, Rob has put in more than 8500 native plants in wetland and riparian areas. He has sought a lot of advice, including from regional council staff, to understand which plants will thrive in certain locations and the type of birdlife they’ll attract. “In wetland areas, some plants will grow a lot quicker than on dryer areas. I’ve planted flax and tussock that are great at soaking up nutrients as well.” As devoted as he is to Easterbo, Rob also rates the benefits of taking a break and getting involved in the local community. “I really enjoy seeing the results of giving back to the community – for example through fundraisers. There are certain times of the year when you know you’ll be a bit quieter and that’s the ideal time to get involved in things. “It’s important to get off the farm because you come back with a different attitude – often seeing things with fresh eyes.”

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FARMING IN FOCUS

Top left: Mixed aged ewes at Rata Peaks set stocked ready for lambing. Top right: Mt Benger’s hill country makes up 80% of the farm and is the focus of a development programme based on legumes, particularly subterranean clover. Centre left: View from the new staff house at Coverham. Centre right: Getting into the back blocks of Island Hills Station is possible for everyone now that the walking track is open again. Above: King Country farmers Graham and Karianne Wills drive among their herd of Stabiliser cattle.

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Top left: Hamish Murray with a typical grass and annual clover pasture at Bluff Station. Top, centre: These home-made ‘Taranaki’ gate closures were seen by Chid Murray elsewhere, and he copied the idea to use at Bluff Station. Top right: The Fraser family on Mt Benger station. Centre left: Graham Wills gives his faithful companion a ride out the back of the Ongarue farm. Centre right: Winter active Upright ryegrass was grown for the first time this year at Mt Benger. Above: Graham Wills rides along the tops of the King Country farm. Country-Wide

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