Rural round-up

Alumni awards honour Luxton:

DairyNZ chairman John Luxton has been honoured by Massey University at its Distinguished Alumni awards.

Luxton, QSO, a former MP and current Dairy NZ chairman, received the supreme honour, the Sir Geoffrey Peren Medal.

Named after Massey’s founding principal, the award recognises a graduate who has reached the highest level of achievement in business or professional life or who has been of significant service to the university, community or nation. . .

Alliance confident about lamb sales in northern markets -

Southland-based meat processor the Alliance Group is quietly confident of a better season for meat sales in the pivotal Easter trade in northern hemisphere markets.

The last shipments of the company’s meat products for the Easter markets left New Zealand early in February and were still in transit, said chief executive Grant Cuff.

“We’ve only had early indications from those markets, but we’re more optimistic this Easter than we were last Easter,” he said.

Lamb prices were very high in northern hemisphere markets last Easter and customers were more pessimistic, with high unemployment and a lot of uncertainty around the world. . .

Working on quality - Terri Russell:

Southland meat processor Alliance Group is working on new initiatives after a visit from leading British retailer Marks and Spencer last month.

It was the retailer’s first visit since agreeing on an exclusive supply deal late last year. Marks and Spencer representatives visited the company’s Lorneville plant, near Invercargill, to look at processing techniques and product specifications.

Alliance Group, in partnership with Marks and Spencer, will work together to improve shelf life and quality of product.

Alliance Group general manager marketing Murray Brown said the initiatives offered opportunities for farmer-suppliers. . .

Five star treatment for Camelot cows – Michelle Nelson:

In the shadow of the Mid Canterbury foothills lies a modern-day Camelot, where something magical is happening – huge super cows are milked by robots, and a dedicated team of humans attends to their every need.

Camelot Robotic Dairy Farm is owned by the Beeston family’s Blumoon Trust, and is a place where animal welfare and sustainable farming practices are kept at the forefront of decision making.

At 26, Frances Beeston manages the state-of-the-art robotic dairy farm, home to the Blumoon Holstein Fresian and Triann Brown Swiss studs. She says life doesn’t get much better.

The daughter of Bryan and Annette Beeston, Frances grew up with elite dairy cows, and wasted little time thinking about where her future lay.

“I worked on the farm with Mum and Dad when I was a kid. I had pet calves and loved going out at night to check on cows at calving – I always loved the lifestyle,” she says. . .

Alien weeds feared in imported hay - Terri Russell:

Southland farmers aren’t sending hay north to support drought-ravaged farms – and they would only accept North Island hay if they were “desperate” for the feed.

Truckloads of Canterbury hay have been sent to farmers in the North Island this week to underfed livestock in the drought-affected north.

While transport costs and dry conditions meant Southland farmers had shown no interest in sending hay north, industry leaders said if the situation was reversed farmers would need to be vigilant about hay coming to Southland. They did not want unwanted weeds in the hay to spread through the region. . . .

DoC tries to leave none behind – Tim Fulton:

Canterbury conservator Mike Cuddihy has a favourite song lyric, “I’ll be holding all the tickets and you’ll be owning all the fines”. Tim Fulton meets a top manager at the Department of Conservation.

Some trophy hunters shoot the bull tahr but leave the females behind to breed in great numbers, Mike Cuddihy has noticed.

His incidental comment on wild game captures his view of responsibility for the “huge canvas” of the environment.

DoC will happily work behind the scenes in conservation but the onus goes in all directions, the Canterbury regional manager says.

In the South Island high country, where DoC is a large landowner rubbing shoulders routinely with farmers, the bush-talk has been of a fractious relationship. . .

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