Digging deep to help neighbours

July 8, 2014

Our district has been deeply shaken by the shooting of more than 200 sheep.

But good can come from bad and that was illustrated at the special fundraising sale at Waiareka yesterday:

The sale raised close to $22,500 for the Stackhouse and Dodd families, both victims of recent sheep killings on their properties, with stock agents reporting ”generous” prices being paid.

Meanwhile, about $11,400 has been deposited in the Westpac bank account set up by Rural Women NZ North Otago.

When contacted, Ngapara farmer Peter Stackhouse said he was overwhelmed by the support shown.

”Words can hardly describe it … we’re really, really privileged to be in the North Otago area. We didn’t expect anything; it’s very, very humbling,” he said. . .

While the sale was about country people showing their support, he said he had also had calls from urban dwellers who were also very concerned and thinking about them.

The next best thing now would be for someone to be apprehended for the offending, he said.

Tapui farmer John Dodd said it showed ”good human nature against the opposite side of it” and he thanked the public for their support.

”Once you pick on one farmer, in my opinion, you’re picking on the whole lot. Farmers respond with kind hearts,” Mr Dodd said.

The sale was an initiative of Federated Farmers and the community, and it drew a much larger crowd than usual to the weekly Waiareka stock sale.

Organiser Greg Ruddenklau was ”over the bloody moon” with the result, after 168 sheep and several cattle beasts were donated.

”It just shows how much people care really, doesn’t it?” Mr Ruddenklau said.

While demonstrating the level of support for the farmers affected, it also showed that people ”don’t want these sort of things happening in North Otago, or anywhere”. . .

During spirited bidding, auctioneer Rod Naylor quipped: ”I wish it was like this every week”. . .

Mr Naylor said prices overall at the sale were ”generous”, compared to usual market value, which showed the buyers’ goodwill.

He described the result as ”tremendous” saying both the numbers of stock yarded and the prices achieved were higher than what had been expected.

Police said there were no further reported similar incidents over the weekend.

The first incident happened over the weekend of June 21-22 when 195 sheep were killed on the Stackhouse property, and at least a further 20 sheep were killed on the Dodd farm the following weekend.

In both incidents, police believed a firearm was used. Police actively patrolled the Ngapara area over the weekend and would continue to conduct patrols in the area, Detective Warren Duncan said.

A small investigation team, including some Dunedin staff, was working through information received from members of the public and carrying out inquiries.

Anyone with information should contact Oamaru police on (03) 433-1400 or call Det Duncan confidentially on (03) 433-1416.

Everyone in the area knows that this could have happened to anyone of us and everyone is happy to dig deep to help neighbours.

Money can’t replace decades of breeding which went in to the stud stock which were shot, nor can it take away the fear. But the generosity and good will locally and from further afield is heart warming.

We’ve been impressed by the police response too.

One of our staff was stopped and questioned on his way home late on Saturday night and a woman who had stopped to admire the stars found her car surrounded by police.


More sheep shot

July 1, 2014

A week after nearly 200 sheep were shot on a North Otago farm at least 15 more have been shot on another farm in the area on Sunday night or early yesterday morning.

. . . They [police] are not yet saying whether they were shot dead or whether they think the deaths are linked.

“Both of these events are very unusual but we appreciate that they will be creating a high level of concern amongst local farmers and the community in the Ngapara area,” says Detective Warren Duncan.

Witnesses who may have seen anything in the Crown Hill, Conlans Road and Peaks Road area were asked to contact police.

Last weekend, 195 sheep were shot at Peter Stackhouse’s property over two nights. Many had to be put down because the bullets did not kill them.

Police were baffled as to why so many were shot but not taken for their meat.

However, Det Duncan said “good information” had come in on the killings. . .

The area has been plagued by unsolved crimes going back several decades:

Whether you believe in lunar madness or not, there is evidence to suggest the full moon has cast its spell over Ngapara in the past 40 years.

As inquiries continue into the slaughter of about 195 sheep on a Ngapara farm last weekend, so too do investigations into a 40-year trail of unsolved crimes in the area – most of them committed during a full moon, according to Oamaru police.

”[Farmers] all know that on a full moon [the offender(s)] plays up – full moon, watch out, keep everything locked up,” Community Constable Bruce Dow, of Oamaru, said.

”They say: ‘Full moon, [they'll] be out there tonight’.”

A sense of fear remained in the community and farmers had always been aware of suspicious activity, he said.

”This has been a bone of contention for that community for years and years and it’s not stopped,” he said.

”It’s criminal behaviour by an individual or individuals and it’s causing the community of Enfield, Ngapara and Georgetown a lot of concern.

”It hasn’t been forgotten – if the offender out there thinks that he or she has got away with this, they are fooling themselves.”

Police can trace a series of fires and sabotage of vehicles and farm equipment back to 1975 in the Ngapara area, extended in some cases to Enfield and Georgetown.

Const Dow said the unsolved crimes were unlikely to be linked to the shootings of ewes and hoggets on the Stackhouse family farm last Friday and Saturday nights, but police were still appealing for information. . .

Historic crimes in the Ngapara area included theft of property from tractors, stock theft, arson of hay sheds, paddocks, forests and houses and serious damage to tractors, and machinery.

”Engines have been destroyed on tractors, headers and vehicles, we believe by the use of carborundum, a grinding paste,” Const Dow said.

”Tyres have been punctured, wheel nuts have been loosened off tractors and cars. Sheep have been stolen and ear tags from one farm have been found down offal pits of another.”

Fences had been cut, electric fences tampered with and one farmer lost more than 2250 litres of diesel when the taps from a fuel tank were turned on.

The Stackhouse family farm was also targeted about 20 years ago, with farm machinery seriously damaged, Const Dow said.

In many cases, damage had been subtle, such as holes drilled in hydraulic hoses and nail holes poked into a tractor’s air filter.

”Everything has been covertly done – they’ve been done under cover of darkness and a lot of them were done so they wouldn’t be discovered until when the equipment was needed the most,” he said.

”Old-timers … will remember lots of these incidents and they will have a very firm opinion of who’s caused it.” . . .

Not only old-timers have a firm opinion of the identity of the perpetrator of the on-going crimes but there has never been enough proof to lay charges.

However, these mass shooting are something new and very unwelcome.

While killing other people’s stock for meat can’t be condoned it can be understood.

But this senseless shooting, killing and leaving some animals still alive but badly injured, is evil and has left everyone in the area very worried.

The crimes have also galvanised community spirit. An email arrived from Federated Farmers advising:

Community fundraiser in support of the Stackhouse Family – Waiareka Sale, Monday 7 July

Federated Farmers and the North Otago community are holding a special fundraising sale to assist Peter and Janine Stackhouse  following the recent brutal attack on their stock, where approximately 200 sheep were shot.

When:Monday 7 July 2014

Where: Waiareka Sale Yards (after their usual morning sale)

If people would like to donate ewes or lambs it would be greatly appreciated, if so, we’d ask for ewes or lambs to be delivered to the Waiareka sale yards, on the morning of the sale (Monday, 7 July).

If you’d like to donate stock but are unable to deliver them to the sale yards, please contact Greg Ruddenklau on (03) 432 4006 or 027 429 6179 to organise a pick up.

If instead you’d like to give a cash donation to the Stackhouse’s, a fundraiser account has been set up by Rural Woman NZ and the details are below.

Federated Farmers would like to publicly thank PGG Wrightson, Rural Women NZ North Otago and CRT Farmlands for their assistance.

Fundraiser details:

Deliver ewes or lambs on the morning of the sale, or if this is not possible, please contact Greg Ruddenklau on (03) 432 4006 or 027 429 6179 to organise a pick up.

Fundraising account for cash donations:

Westpac: 03 0937 0071238 00

Account: Rural Women NZ North Otago

Reference number: “Farm Stock”

For more information please contact

Lyndon Strang
Vice-President Federated Farmers North Otago


Rural round-up

June 25, 2014

Neighbours to sheep shooting worried:

Neighbours of a North Otago farm where nearly 200 sheep have been shot say they also fear what will happen next.

Police are investigating the unexplained slaughter in Ngapara, 30km inland from Oamaru at the weekend. Peter Stackhouse discovered the dead sheep, and others wandering injured, at sites about 1km inside his farm over two successive nights.

On Saturday morning, he found 110 sheep that had been killed and though he shifted the flock, another 80 hoggets were killed on Saturday night.

Mr Stackhouse said the the killing of his stock was a great shock and he was not sleeping well, worrying about what will happen next. Although the sheep were shot, he had not found any spent cartridges or bullets. . .

Lincoln and Canterbury – is a merger the solution? – Keith Woodford:

Last week I wrote how Lincoln University is facing hard times, and is shedding lecturing staff in core areas of land-based education. I suggested one solution could be for Lincoln to become much more focused on its true areas of specialisation and to greatly reduce the managerial and marketing spend which has recently ballooned. The other alternative is to link with Canterbury University.

Unfortunately, the first alternative is unlikely to occur. It would require the senior management team to reverse key policies with which they are collectively associated.

So the other alternative of joining with Canterbury University now needs careful scrutiny. The Tertiary Education Commission stated earlier this year that in its opinion New Zealand had too many Universities, and if that really is the case then Lincoln surely has to be first cab off the rank. Also, Lincoln’s Vice Chancellor (VC) himself said some two years back that, if his proposed growth strategy failed, then the alternative would be to join “the fine university down the road”. . .

Sex and inbreeding (in bees) – Peter K Dearden:

Tomorrow I am speaking at the National Bee Keepers Association conference in Whanganui and thought I might write a bit about what we have been doing to help me get things clear.

Much of my research work is on bees; trying to learn how they work, trying to find new ways to protect them and, occasionally doing research to help the beekeeping industry.

Beekeeping is a reasonably large business in New Zealand, making over $100 Million per annum in bee-related exports. More importantly, it is estimated that Bees bring $5.1 Billion each year to the New Zealand economy through pollination. Bees are a vital part of our primary production sector and we need to care about them. . .

Alliance venison plants cleared for China:

The Alliance meat group has had a breakthrough in getting both of its venison processing plants certified to supply the China market, that doubles the number of listed New Zealand venison plans to four.

New Zealand has had a long established trade in deer velvet or antler to China and some other deer products.

But venison is relatively new to that market. . .

Return to profit: Blue Sky smiling – Sally Rae:

Blue Sky Meats’ return to profitability spells an end to about two and-a-half years of turmoil in the international sheep meat industry, chairman Graham Cooney says.

Directors were ”quite rightly proud” of how the Southland-based company had not only survived but moved forward in a time when the sheep meat processing and exporting industry had reputedly lost $200 million, he said.

The company has recorded a $1.946 million after-tax profit for the year to March. . . .

South Canterbury ag-student is finalist in Green Agriculture Innovation Award:

Twenty-year old University student Genevieve Steven, of Timaru, is the winner of the Viafos Youth Award, putting her in the running against nine other finalists as the supreme award winner of the inaugural Green Agriculture Innovation Awards (GAIA) in New Zealand.

The youngest contender for the award, Ms Steven is in her second year at Lincoln University on a DairyNZ scholarship studying biochemistry, animal sciences, plant sciences, soil science and management papers.

Her ultimate goal is a move into biological farming. “I would like to be an educator and advisor to farmers already using the principles of biological farming, but also take the concept of ‘biological farming’ to those who don’t know much about it. I enjoy the challenge of changing people’s perceptions.” . . .

Grower lauds sugar beet ‘wonder fuel’ – Diane Bishop:

Sugar beet is the new wonder fuel, according to Southern Cross Produce owner Matthew Malcolm who has started growing and harvesting sugar beet for the dairy market.

“I can see a real future for it.

“With a lot more wintering sheds going up there will be a bigger demand to take the crop to the cows,” he said.

Malcolm, who has grown 10 hectares of the crop on his Woodlands property in Southland, was keen to try sugar beet which has a higher sugar content than fodder beet. . .

2014 Young Viticulturist of the Year set to be the biggest and best yet:

With just two weeks to go until the first regional rounds of Young Viticulturist of The Year 2014, this year’s competition is shaping up to be the biggest and best yet! Now in its ninth year Young Viticulturist of The Year will host a fourth regional competition for the first time with Wairarapa Winegrowers, joining Hawkes Bay, Marlborough and Central Otago.

Competition organiser, Emma Taylor said “Since the success of Braden Crosby from Borthwick Estate who was the 2012 national champion, it seems that many viticulturists in the Wairarapa region have been inspired by him and there is now enough interest for Wairarapa to hold their own round of the competition.” Braden Crosby will use his experience as a past competitor to shape the competition which will be held at Te Kairanga Winery on the 30th July alongside the regional Silver Secateurs competition. . .

 


No testing highs on animals

May 5, 2014

The government will not allow animal testing on so-called legal highs.

Prime Minister John Key has ruled out any animal testing on legal high products.

Parliament will pass legislation this week to pull all legal high products from shop shelves until they can be proved to be safe. . . .

John Banks was the only MP to vote against the original legislation because it allowed animal testing. and he was right to do so.

(I posted supporting him here)

I accept the case for using animals to test drugs which could potentially help people but I can’t see any ethical justification for using them to test recreational drugs.

This will have the same effect as banning the drugs altogether.

That isn’t without problems is preferable to allowing tests to be carried out on animals.

 


Rural round-up

May 4, 2014

Get on the front foot over environment critiques:

FARMERS ARE too defensive in their responses to the issue of the environmental impact of farming.

So says Tihoi, Lake Taupo, farmer Mike Barton, who with his wife Sharon this year won the top award in Waikato in the Ballance Agri-Nutrients awards contest. 

They have taken a leadership role in dealing with Environment Waikato’s controversial Variation 5 that severely limits the amount of nitrogen a farm can leach. . .

Treat farms as cluster of small units:

COLE AND Tania Simmons’ property 20 minutes drive east of Dannevirke can get cold and wet during winter, risking soil damage by stock. Simmons have made provision for this by building a feed pad and by planting shelter trees. 

Dr Alec Mackay, AgResearch, told farmers attending the field day to look at their properties as “assemblages of a diversity of landscape units,” rather than just one big farm.  In the past, people have talked more about average numbers but McKay says this fails to address the reality that parts of a farm differ from each other and need to be treated or managed differently. Better to see a farm as smaller units and see what ‘contribution’ each makes to the business.

“There are opportunities to increase the profitability and performance of a farm by moving away from making average decisions on an average basis across the farm and going out and interrogating the land that makes up the farm.  . .

Hawke’s Bay TB control benefiting native wildlife:

Farmers and environmentalists alike are touting the benefits of planned aerial bovine tuberculosis (TB) control operations this winter in Waipunga near the Taupo to Napier highway. Dennis Ward, of Ngatapu Station, fits into both groups and is also a keen recreational hunter.

“When you look at the practicalities of 1080 in improving the quality of life of our native species, it’s a no brainer. People don’t appreciate that possums, stoats, ferrets and rats do more to decimate our native bird populations than anything else,” said Mr Ward.

He said scientific research has shown the positive effects of 1080 on native birds and forests. “The evidence has convinced me that it is the best method for use, particularly in rugged terrain like the Waipunga area, where ground control is impractical.” . . .

Goodhew visits damaged forests on West Coast:

Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew has visited the wind ravaged West Coast today to experience first-hand the impact on local communities.

“The severe winds on last Thursday have affected the indigenous and plantation forests, as well as the wider agriculture sector from Karamea to Haast,” says Ms Goodhew.

During the storm the strongest gust recorded was 130km/hr at Westport, although the level of damage suggests the winds were even stronger in some areas. The Insurance Council of New Zealand is still assessing the damage.

“In true West Coast style the community has rallied around and demonstrated extraordinary resilience,” says Mrs Goodhew. . .

Wool price focus welcome – Cara Jeffery:

MERINO wool has been their lifelong passion on the land but Rick and Pam Martin know their enthusiasm for fine wools can only stretch so far if something isn’t done soon to improve prices.

The Martins run 1700 breeders and 900 Merino wethers on their property “Burnbank”, at Borambola near Wagga Wagga, and say any ideas that could improve the current situation for woolgrowers should be explored.

Their comments come after it was revealed last week that Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) chairman Wally Merriman had floated an idea with the AWI board to regulate the supply of wool into the auction markets to help stabilise price fluctuations in the market. . . .

Final judging underway:

The final judging is underway to determine the winners in the 2014 New Zealand dairy award winners.

The winners will be announced at a sold-out black tie event attended by 650 people at Auckland’s Sky City Hotel on May 9. About $170,000 in prizes are up for grabs in the New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year, New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year and New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year competitions.

Judging started on Monday (April 28) for the 11 sharemilker/equity farmer and 11 farm manager regional finalists. A team of three judges – a farmer, banker and farm adviser – spend two hours on each finalist’s farm to critique the finalist and their farm business. The task takes the sharemilker/equity farmer judges from Winton, in Southland, to Whataroa, on the West Coast, and to Ohaewai, in Northland. The last of the regional finalists, the Auckland/Hauraki representatives, are judged on Tuesday (May 7). . .

Sponsorship for ‘Pioneering’ Lincoln research:

Leading maize, lucerne, forage sorghum, and inoculant producer Pioneer® Brand Products has generously agreed to an annual sponsorship arrangement with Lincoln University to assist with projects aimed at ensuring a sustainable farming future for New Zealand.

The objective behind the sponsorship aligns well with the commitment of both organisations to continually look for ways to increase farm profitability without compromising environmental quality.

This year’s sponsorship will support work investigating the use of plants in an agricultural setting – such as around paddock borders and riparian zones – to reduce the build-up of nitrates in the soil. . .


Rural round-up

April 6, 2014

Dairying ‘growing the community’: farmer - Ruth Grundy:

May Murphy recalls an incident 30 years ago – she and her husband Robin were driving a friend, also involved in dairying, through Ikawai-Glenavy.

”When Robin told him: ‘In time this will all be dairying’ he thought he was joking – but it’s happened,” Mrs Murphy said.

Murphy Farms Ltd is run by Mr and Mrs Murphy together with son Bruce and daughter-in-law Lesa Murphy. Bruce and Lesa’s children, Jack (11), Harry (10) Katie (6) and Lily (3) are part of the family firm. . .

Genuine opportunities for a2 Milk - Dene Mackenzie:

Craigs Investment Partners has initiated coverage on The a2 Milk Company with a hold recommendation on the shares given the broad-based nature of growth opportunities.

The company will change its name from A2 Corporation to The a2 Milk Company on April 8. Managing director Geoffrey Babidge said the new name ”instantly and consistently” described the values and mission in a way the current trading names did not.

”It reflects our journey from early research and entrepreneurial pioneers in New Zealand to a unified global identity,” he said.

Craigs broker Chris Timms said a2 was ”a little bit frothy” but genuine and broad-based opportunities existed for the Dunedin-founded company. . .

Turn-out pleases organisers:

Planning for a sustainable future was the focus of a roadshow in Rangiora last week.

Rural Women New Zealand’s 2014 International Year of Family Farming roadshow rolled into the Rangiora Showgrounds on Friday to share ”good news stories” about the role of family farms now and in the future.

Development and marketing manager Kiera Jacobson said the focus was on family farms being sustainable, ”not just environmentally, but also financially and in our on-farm safety”. . .

Growing the country and shrinking waistlines:

A key part of Lincoln University’s remit for the future is ‘feeding the world’ – with significant emphasis on promoting food science and innovation within the national and international food sector.

In 2013, the Lincoln University Centre for Food Research and Innovation was established to promote innovation and collaboration with the food industry.

Centre Director and Professor of Food Science, Charles Brennan says food science has the potential to not only grow the economy, but also deliver national health benefits at the same time.

“Our aim is to create food that is convenient, nutritious and good value. By applying theoretical knowledge to the processing of foods, we are able to meet consumer demands for flavour and texture, as well as nutrition in terms of protein digestibility for human growth, and starch digestibility in relation to glucose levels. Food science and innovation are critical not only to the economic viability of New Zealand, but for the world economy as a whole.”. .

Lawyers to sponsor agri-tech scholarship -

Canterbury law firm Tavendale and Partners and Lincoln University have announced a postgraduate scholarship to support applied knowledge and innovation in agri-tech.

The $6500 scholarship will be awarded annually to a postgraduate student studying at Lincoln University and specialising in the invention and application of smart agricultural technology.

The first scholarship will be available for the second semester of this year and then annually after that.  . .

Princess Anne’s Countryfile comments on gassing badgers and GM food stoke highly charged debate:

The Princess Royal has injected new controversy into the highly charged debate on the badger cull, calling for the mammals to be gassed in their setts.

But her intervention, in an interview with BBC’s Countryfile programme to be screened tomorrow, was welcomed yesterday by some West Country farmers frustrated by the Government’s failure to approve a further roll out of the shooting of badgers as part of the battle against bovine TB.

The Princess said: “If we want to control badgers the most humane way of doing it is to gas them.”

Her comments were immediately condemned by Rosie Woodroffe, of the Zoological Society, who said it was difficult to achieve lethal concentrations of gas in complex badger setts, and by Mark Jones, a vet and the director of the Humane Society. . . .

TB prevalence in Great Britain and New Zealand cattle:

In New Zealand in 1990 the proportion of TB in cattle was about 7 times greater than it was in Great Britain. However in 1997 the proportions were about equal. Currently (in 2011) the proportion in New Zealand is about 40 times less than what it is in Great Britain. Since the early nineties, control of the principal wildlife vector, the possum, in New Zealand has increased whilst in Great Britain since 1986 control of the principal wildlife vector, the badger, has reduced. . .

 


Rural round-up

March 20, 2014

Charmaine O’Shea takes 2014 Dairy Woman of the Year title:

Northland dairy farmer and Chartered Accountant Charmaine O’Shea was named the Dairy Woman of the Year last night at a gala dinner held by the Dairy Women’s Network in Hamilton.

With more than 20 years’ dairy farming and financial expertise, O’Shea has played an important role in improving the profitability of the New Zealand dairy industry through strong financial, environmental and people performance.

She is an equity partner in a Maungatapere dairy farm with brother Shayne. The sibling’s robust environmental stewardship and actions to demonstrate best farming practices were recognised last year when they were named the 2013 Northland Supreme Ballance Farm Environment Award winners. . .

Fonterra Launches China-New Zealand Dairy Exchange Centre:

Fonterra today announced the launch of the China-New Zealand Dairy Exchange Centre in Beijing. The Centre is a joint initiative between Fonterra and China’s National Dairy Industry and Technology System to support the sustainable development of the dairy industry in both countries.

“It is a key priority for Fonterra to contribute to the development of the Chinese dairy industry and we believe there is a lot to be gained by both New Zealand and China through the sharing of knowledge, research and dairy expertise,” said Kelvin Wickham, President of Fonterra Greater China and India.

“Both parties have world-class dairy research and know-how so we are very pleased to be playing a key role in bringing this initiative to life,” he said. . .

Local Government-Backed Website for Water Quality:

The local government sector is leading the way to provide New Zealanders with up to date information about fresh water, with the launch of a new website that makes water quality data public.

The Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA) website www.lawa.org.nz was created by 16 regional and unitary councils that are Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) members, together with the Ministry for Environment, Cawthron Institute and Massey University with support of the Tindall Foundation.

LAWA provides a rich source of data from more than 1100 freshwater sites local government monitors to give the public easy access to water quality monitoring information. It allows users to see levels of bacteria, acidity, water clarity and other parameters in rivers and catchments. . .

The incredible shrinking current account deficit:

While the value of dairy exports has helped New Zealand record a current account deficit in the December 2013 quarter, $900 million less than in the September 2013 quarter, Federated Farmers knows trade agreements are a must to continue this positive trend.

“Our export performance continues to shine and while dairy is leading, it is a story of our superbly resilient primary industries,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“As Westpac Institutional Bank noted, “A sharp rebound in export volumes, after the severe drought in early 2013, led to the strongest seasonally-adjusted goods balance on record.” . .

High Country innovative leaders:

Federated Farmers High Country farmers are keen to work with Environment Canterbury in making the industry sustainable, so that they can continue improving the land, and keeping the iconic landscape pest free.

“Federated Farmers High Country Field Day yesterday saw 140 industry stakeholders and supporters make a pilgrimage through five of the country’s iconic stations, now a far cry from the barren, rabbit filled desert they once were,” says Simon Williamson, Federated Farmers North Otago High Country Spokesperson.

“There has been an enormous amount of work done to transform some of this barren land into productive pastures. A fundamental part of this transformation has been irrigation, which has allowed this land to generate enough income to support 23 families over eight farms, as opposed to just seven families on six farms nine years ago. . .

Support Trust to highlight farmers’ plight – Hugh Stringleman:

Northland Rural Support Trust has called a meeting of central and local government officials and farmer representatives to help west coast farms gripped by drought.

Former tropical cyclone Lusi turned out to be a damp squib, delivering 20mm of rain at most in the western Kaipara regions of Pouto Peninsula and South Kaipara Head, considerably les than the 50-75mm that fell on Northland’s east coast.

Farmers who attended the Northland Agricultural Research Farm annual field day near Dargaville last week heard of the continuing extreme soil moisture deficit, which has been evident since before Christmas. . . .

Verda Deal Gives New Hope To NZ’s Wood Processing Industry:

 A long-awaited turnaround in the wood processing sector has been signaled today by outdoor wood specialist Verda New Zealand Ltd, who announced they are forming a new entity after a successful capital raising exercise.

Local and international investors have come together to form Verda International Ltd (VIL). VIL has purchased all of Verda New Zealand’s assets, brands and IP, and has taken a 47 per cent stake in the company’s sawmill in Napier.

VIL CEO Grant Butterworth, says the deal is the culmination of 12 months of work to form the new entity, attract new investors and finalise the company structure. . .

Lies, damned lies and statistics (surveys) – Willy Leferink:

What would happen if Federated Farmers put out a survey asking respondents to agree or disagree with broad sweeping statements.  I’m thinking along the lines of, ‘do you feel introduced fish species should enjoy significantly more legal protection over native fish?’ What about, ‘should the trout license fee ($121 for an adult) be abolished, with trout and salmon rules aligned with those for saltwater recreational fishing?’

Something tells me one organisation would cry blue murder before exploding in a rage of apoplexy.  So guess what, I am not going down that line. 

Instead, I am going to respond to what I heard Bernard Hickey and RadioLIVE’s Marcus Lush recently say on radio.  Lush said, “we’re becoming more dairy intensive with these great irrigation projects in Canterbury and to a lesser extent Hawke’s Bay…they are all geared for more people going into dairy.” 

Funny then that the sheep and beef guys in Central Hawke’s Bay are going to use Ruataniwha to part irrigate their farms, just like Federated Farmers’ Mid-Canterbury provincial president Chris Allen. . .

Updated dairy cattle code of welfare to include calf management:

Federated Farmers welcomes the consultation process announced by NAWAC late last week, as it updates the Animal Welfare (Dairy Cattle) Code of Welfare.

“There has been a lot of media coverage recently of calves being slaughtered in Chile,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy Chairperson.

“Federated Farmers agrees with most New Zealanders that this sort of behaviour does not belong on New Zealand farms. . .


Employment law fails animal welfare

October 1, 2013

Federated farmers is concerned that employment law is failing when it comes to animal welfare issues.

In a recent survey of its members, a clear picture was highlighted, where farm employers feel the legal system prevents them from ensuring livestock are not abused or neglected.

“It is clear from the survey that there is a huge lack of trust in the employment law system. Farmers feel they have been burnt when trying to protect their animals and would now rather “pay-out” staff, who have neglected their stock, in fear of the legal system letting them down,” said Katie Milne, Federated Farmers Employment Spokesperson.

“What we want is for simpler rules and a fair and balanced approach, when it comes to dismissing staff for animal welfare issues. When you have a staff member breaking tails, beating calves or dogs and so on, employment law appears to hinder the employer’s rights to mitigate this from happening.

“Almost 20 percent of those surveyed have had to dismiss an employee regarding animal welfare issues and of those, 64 percent said they paid out the employee because it was easier and less expensive than taking them to court. If there are no repercussions for offender’s actions, it does not bode well for livestock this person may work with in the future.

“It comes down to a matter of fairness; 50 percent of the respondents felt that employment law wasn’t fair to employers, where as just 12 percent felt it was. There is a big divide here and it needs to be acknowledged.

“If farmers don’t trust or understand the employment law system then how are they going to protect themselves from employee’s who are not only killing stock in inhumane ways but behaving aggressively to staff and their employer?” concluded Ms Milne.

Anything which compromises animal welfare ought to be grounds for automatic dismissal.

That is no longer a simple process and I know of a few cases where getting the process wrong resulted in legal action from sacked employees, who won.

The abuse wasn’t disputed but the way the dismissal was handled was deemed to contravene the workers’ rights.

This is why employers will opt for paying out the employee because it can be cheaper in the long run.

That means the employee gets off without having to face the consequences for the abuse.


Rural round-up

August 23, 2013

United stand taken on dairy cattle cruelty:

Following yesterday’s conviction of a dairy herd manager in Ashburton, Federated Farmers, DairyNZ and the New Zealand Veterinary Association, share the same stance on animal cruelty. Breaking tails is absolutely unacceptable and has no place in the New Zealand dairy industry.

“I have no idea why someone working on a dairy farm would believe that breaking tails makes cows easier to work with,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy Chairperson.

“We’ve seen several instances of this unacceptable practice as of late and it defies logic and stockmanship.

“First, it causes the animal pain and distress meaning they are not going to be a peak performer. Secondly, cows are not clueless. They will become leery of farm staff making them much harder to handle and to work with. . .

Meat industry reforms this year  unlikely:

The chances of getting any big meat industry changes in place for the new season are looking increasingly unlikely, as meat companies continue talks on where they might head with restructuring.

The meat industry excellence group, which is pushing for reforms to create a more consolidated and profitable sector, has set up a formal body and appointed a couple of business and legal advisors.

But it’s waiting on meat companies now to see if they come up with any workable solutions from on-going talks. . .

Fonterra Endorses Border Testing Practices:

Fonterra today confirmed that it fully endorses and complies with the practice of country of origin and country of destination testing for all of its products.

Fonterra’s Group Director of Food Safety and Quality, Ian Palliser, said that testing across each point of the supply chain is best practice for Fonterra and for all global food businesses.

“Testing food products before they leave New Zealand, and again when they arrive at their port of destination, provides essential food safety assurance. It also enables rigorous testing by both New Zealand and the destination country, while the product is still fully within Fonterra’s supply chain.

“There are times when test findings differ between country of origin and country of destination. This can be due to a variety of reasons, including changes in product conditions during shipment, and different laboratories and testing methodologies. In these situations, the product is held, and the relevant companies and regulators work together to agree next steps,” Mr Palliser said. . .

Mesh cover highly effective at keeping pests off potatoes:

A team of researchers at Lincoln University say they are impressed with the results from a trial of a mesh cover that’s used to protect crops from insect pests.

The effectiveness of a mesh crop cover at protecting potatoes from the Tomato-Potato Psyllid was tested in a recent trial.

Future Farming Centre head Charles Merfield said the mesh was incredibly effective. It kept 99% of the psyllid out from under the mesh despite a plot of potatoes infested with psyllid being just a couple of metres away. . .

Farmax announces winner of inaugural Lincoln University scholarship:

Second year Lincoln University PhD student, Geoffrey Smith, has been awarded a $5,000 scholarship from Farmax to advance his research into the strategic use of the drought-tolerant species lucerne as an alternative or complementary forage to ryegrass for Canterbury dairy farms.

Farmax General Manager, Gavin McEwen, said Smith’s research stood out for the selection panel because while it was focussed on Canterbury, it had the potential to create significant benefits for all New Zealand pastoral farmers. . .

Young Rancher Selected For Five Nations:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) has selected Lauren McWilliam as the “young rancher” to represent New Zealand at next month’s Five Nations Beef Alliance in Brisbane.

The Alliance is a private entity involving the national organisations that represent beef cattle producers in Australia, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, and the United States. It develops strategies to encourage growth in global beef trading, while also addressing any mutual concerns of members.

As one of the five member organisations, B+LNZ, assisted by New Zealand Young Farmers, selects a young rancher (aged 23 to 31) to attend the Alliance’s annual meeting. Lauren will join other young ranchers in Brisbane from 8-13 September. They will include New Zealand’s representatives from the past two years, Richard Morrison and Peter Fitz-Herbert, both of Hunterville. . .


Test on idiots

July 31, 2013

Quote of the day:

“If it’s necessary to have these mind-changing chemicals, then test them on the idiots that want to take them, because there’s hundreds that want to do it.” John Banks.

He was commenting on testing party pills on animals.

Banks was the only MP to vote against legislation which would allow animal testing. However, Associate Health Minister Todd McLay shares his concerns.

“Many New Zealanders have raised concerns around the possibility of animal testing for psychoactive products, and I am one of them.

“I have today clarified with the Ministry of Health that no licences to test psychoactive substances are to be issued before the Expert Advisory Committee has completed its consideration of what constitutes a low risk of harm and the appropriateness of all aspects of a testing regime,” says Mr McClay.

“New Zealand has a policy of replacing, refining and reducing any testing involving animals and I have made it clear that it is my expectation we will set an example in this area. Within days of receiving my ministerial warrant I inserted Clause 12 of the Psychoactive Substances Act 2013 ruling out any animal testing where an alternative exists.

“Last week I had a positive meeting with animal welfare representatives to discuss how we can together work towards a regime that will exclude animal tests. I welcome their input as I am sure this will add to the effective and practical implementation of the Act in the months ahead,” says Mr McClay.

The Psychoactive Substances Act removed legal highs from hundreds of retailers around New Zealand and will ensure that only low risk products are available in the future. The Government’s overriding objective with the legislation is the health and welfare of young people, and the Act is already having a positive effect for those most vulnerable.

Countries around the world continue to struggle with how to deal with these products and New Zealand is leading the world in addressing these completely new substances.

“There is a lot of water to pass under the bridge before any testing regime is finalised and I look forward to working with interested parties, including those involved in today’s marches, on this issue in the weeks ahead,” says Mr McClay.

I am not against animal testing on drugs which could do a lot of good but party pills definitely don’t fall into that category.

 


Facts counter political opportunism

June 5, 2013

TV3′s story on cows grazing on landfill was an example of emotion trumping facts and it provided an excuse for the Green Party to seek more publicity.

Fortunately Federated Farmers has the facts to counter their political opportunism:

Federated Farmers Taranaki is concerned the Green Party’s scaremongering over rehabilitated landfarms is putting at risk New Zealand’s number one merchandise export.

“Politicians and political parties have a higher duty when it comes to what they say or do,” says Harvey Leach, Federated Farmers Taranaki provincial president.

“The Green Party media release I saw is like going into a packed theatre and yelling fire. I think we are hitting new lows in politics when the sum total of a political party’s research effort is a television news segment.

“Unlike that party, Federated Farmers has asked questions and knows there is a double testing regime in place for rock cuttings and clays.

“Taranaki Regional Council is incredibly rigorous in what it does. The Council tests ground conditions to ensure things are as they should be. Fonterra further tests for contaminants when it collects milk to ensure integrity of the entire milk supply chain.

“The science is clear; there is no issue here. Of course you don’t want the truth to get in the way of a bad story.

“Politicians misrepresenting the truth is low-ball stuff. They are calling into question the integrity of a major regional council which is the most experienced we have in dealing with oil and gas.

“It also puts at risk our $12 billion dairy export industry by questioning the integrity of our major dairy exporters. We are being ankle-tapped by politicians who get paid by our hard work and that of other hard working kiwis. We deserve much better.

“Farmers will be predictably disappointed in the Green Party because they seem willing to throw decent hard working people under a bus to get a cheap headline. It is nasty politics spun at its worst,” Mr Leach concluded.

New Zealand has a well deserved reputation for food safety and animal health and welfare.

It could very easily be sabotaged by people and parties will to put political opportunism ahead of the facts in this manner.


Rural round-up

May 10, 2013

Animal Welfare Amendment Bill introduced:

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy has introduced a Bill to Parliament today to update and strengthen animal welfare in New Zealand.

“The Bill will allow us to create enforceable regulations that set out how farm and domestic animals should be treated. It also gives wider powers to deal with people who breach welfare laws,” says Mr Guy.

“This comes from a comprehensive review of the Animal Welfare Act 1999 which found that while the principles are sound, the time is right to update and improve how it operates. This will make the legislation easier to enforce, and make it clearer and more transparent.

“It matters how we treat animals, both to ourselves and for our international trading reputation. This Bill will make that reputation even stronger.

“This is important to New Zealanders because around 68% of households have a pet, and we earn around $20 billion a year by exporting animal products such as meat, milk and wool. . .

Animal welfare case guilty plea welcomed:

Federated Farmers believes Milkpride admitting guilt in Rotorua today sends a strong deterrent message.

“With sentencing yet to be passed we are pretty much limited to what we can say,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson.

“Farmers like me were troubled by what we saw and the public deserve to know it is not representative of dairy farming. In this case, farming was both on trial but farming was also part of the prosecution.

“I wish to acknowledge the work of DairyNZ’s early intervention team, Federated Farmers members and the Ministry for Primary Industries itself. . .

Farm health and safety and rural suicide high on agenda at conference:

Federated Farmers health and safety spokesperson Jeanette Maxwell will discuss the work to improve quad bike safety on farms and, more importantly, the Federation’s steps towards reducing the rural suicide rate in FarmSafe’s rural safety conference in Wellington next week.

“The politicians, policy makers and influential agri-business people attending the Rural Safety – A Forward Focus conference next Wednesday will have a very good opportunity to discuss what is happening with on-farm safety and what can be done to improve it,” Mrs Maxwell says.

“I am looking forward to hearing from Coroner Brandt Shortland about the coronial inquiry into quad bike safety and then participating in the stakeholder discussion on the future of quad bike safety afterwards. . .

It’s hands-on for Smedley cadets – Jon Morgan:

Of 80 young men and women applying each year to go to Smedley Station, the agricultural training farm running sheep, cattle and deer in the Central Hawke’s Bay hills, only 11 are chosen.

Once there they come under the spell of station manger Terry Walters, his wife Judy and their team of managers.

It’s two years they will never forget, says Walters.

“They play hard and they also work bloody hard.”

One word sums up the station and its training programme: Respect.

“It’s respect for the farm, the training staff, their fellow cadets, their gear, their dogs, their horse,” he says. . .

Southland farmers urged to register for DairyNZ Farmers’ Forum, 15 May:

DairyNZ’s national series of Farmers’ Forum is coming to Invercargill on Wednesday, 15 May.

The event is free to levy-paying farmers and their staff who are urged to register this week for the informative and practical seminars to be held at Ascot Park Hotel from 9.30-2pm.

Each year the Farmers’ Forum provides a great opportunity for dairy farmers to see how their levy is invested and to learn about dairy industry research and development work. . .

Massey University agricultural programme ranked 21st:

Massey University is celebrating having its agricultural programme ranked among the top universities in the world.

In the 2013 QS University World Rankings released this week, Massey University’s agricultural programme was judged to be the 21st finest in the world.

Vice chancellor Steve Maharey said it’s good news for Massey and good news for New Zealand given the importance of agriculture to the country.

Mr Maharey said the highlight of the ranking in his opinion was the five star ranking Massey received for its research in agriculture.

He said having the strength of the university’s research recognised will reverberate around the world. . .

Shortage Lifts Wool Market:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s Marketing Executive, Mr Paul Steel reports that the combination of a slightly weaker NZ dollar compared to most main trading currencies; restricted wool supply and recent dearer wool markets in other countries aided the lift for most types at this weeks’ South Island auction.

Of the 8,340 bales on offer, 83 percent sold. The weighted currency indicator was 0.46 percent down on last sale of 2nd May but started the day below this level, strengthening as the sale progressed. . .

And from Smile Project:


Rural round-up

May 7, 2013

Fixed price contracts not priority for most meat companies – Marie Taylor:

As debate on the state of the red-meat sector continues, Marie Taylor asked 12 meat processors what they had to offer farmers in terms of stable pricing they could bank on.

Fixed-price contracts are few and far between in the meat industry.

The New Zealand Farmers Weekly surveyed 12 meat companies in New Zealand to find out what was on offer in terms of predictable, stable pricing farmers could bank on.

The most encouraging responses came from Silver Fern Farms, Ovation, Progressive Meats, Lean Meats and Firstlight Foods. . .

New animal welfare strategy released:

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy has launched the New Zealand Animal Welfare Strategy today, setting out a high level framework for how we treat animals.

“The strategy Animal Welfare Matters sets out a formal foundation for New Zealand’s animal welfare legislation and policy,” says Mr Guy.

“It says that it matters how animals are treated, and that we have responsibilities toward animals. It also says that using animals for activities like farming and racing is acceptable as long as it is humane.”

The strategy lists four main routes to improved animal welfare: . . .

Federated Farmers back new animal welfare strategy:

Federated Farmers is fully supporting the release of the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) Animal Welfare Strategy.

“The strategy reflects Federated Farmers own policy on animal welfare,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“It really does matter how animals are treated and farmers have both a moral and ethical responsibility to ensure requirements are adhered to.

“New Zealand’s farmers are actually world leaders in integrating animal health and welfare into their farm management planning. Something recognised by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA).

“This strategy reaffirms our international leadership and reputation. It is a strategic means to ensure this reputation is not only maintained but improved and Federated Farmers supports it. . .

Word of Hawke’s Bay Wines Spreading In China:

Hawke’s Bay wines, in particular high quality reds, are steadily gaining exposure in the expansive Chinese market with two recent initiatives adding to the awareness. 

Four influential Chinese media writers visited the region and were hosted by Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers and five wineries, while four local wineries attended one of China’s most important international wine trade fairs, the Chengdu Wine & Spirits Fair.

Immediately after her visit, Sophie Liu, an independent wine writer and educator, has blogged positively about her time in Hawke’s Bay and is planning articles to appear in Wine World, Wine & Taste and World Cuisine magazines, as well as http://www.wines-info.com

Her colleague Fan Yiren, who is one of China’s most influential social bloggers with accumulated fans of 63,374,307 on one site and over 330,000 on Weibo (Chinese Facebook equivalent), blogged daily. He is also planning to write four to five feature blogs. . .

At home and overseas, New Zealand seafood is on the dinner table:

When fish is on the menu, the type of fish you get can depend heavily on where you live.

Salmon, tarakihi, and gurnard are the most-commonly available fish species in supermarkets and fish shops as tracked in the consumers price index (CPI), Statistics NZ said today. However, some species are not widely available in all regions.

“Snapper and trevally are generally available in shops from Nelson northwards, but barely feature further south where sole is more commonly available,” prices manager Chris Pike said.

New Zealand’s seafood industry, published today by Statistics NZ, gives an economic overview of selected parts of the country’s seafood industry and provides a comparison between 2007 and 2012. . .

Trials show there’s a lot to love about molasses:

A further round of farm trials in the Waikato has reconfirmed the value of Crystalyx Dry Cow dehydrated molasses blocks as a Dry Cow winter management tool.

The results were shared at a farm open day in Putaruru, in March, with Jackie Aveling, Animal Nutrition Manager at Altum, saying the good turnout reflected farmers’ interest.

“Overseas trials over some 20 years have consistently confirmed the performance of dehydrated molasses blocks. Farmers want to know if the same results can be achieved in New Zealand. Our trial work with Crystalyx, which is specifically formulated for local conditions, gives them the facts they need to support its performance.”

The repeated trial work done by Dr Mark Oliver, science director of the Liggins Institute’s Ngapouri Farm research station near Rotorua, which saw a control herd supplemented with magnesium and trace elements following current best practice guidelines, and the other Crystalyx Dry Cow. . .

Organic Farm Pioneers High-tech Voluntary Milking System:

Robotic or voluntary milking systems, where the cows choose for themselves when they want to be milked and the whole job is done by a computerised machine, are still as rare as tits on a bull in New Zealand.

Heritage Farm, a certified organic dairy farm at Karaka, just south of Auckland, was the first farm in New Zealand to install a DeLaval Voluntary Milking System.

Early adopters David and Cathy Yates, who own and run Heritage Farm with their son Brian, are really pleased with their move to computerised milking. They have now had two and a half year’s experience with the system and say that its benefits go way beyond not having to spend hours in the milking shed every day putting on and taking off teat cups. They include improved animal health and welfare, and better pasture and feed management – all made possible by the quantity and quality of the data that the system provides, along with doing the manual work of milking. . .


Bad taste photo tells wrong story

March 14, 2013

Federated Farmers is justifiably unhappy about a photo the NZ Herald used to illustrate a drought story.

We understand from inquiries that the animal shown had suffered a major injury. A vet had attended and a decision was taken to end its suffering; this was appropriate, humane and has absolutely nothing to do with the current drought.

Members of Federated Farmers are rightfully concerned the photo is in bad taste and lacks context.

Federated Farmers feels the NZ Herald has made a story fit an image. It wrongly creates the impression there are widespread animal welfare issues when in fact there aren’t.

We have asked the Ministry for Primary Industries and they report the condition of stock coming through for processing is no different now than it was before the various drought declarations.

Farmers are responsibly sending stock away while they are in good condition. Furthermore, livestock have to meet all animal welfare requirements on the transportation of stock. For the occasional animal that has suffered a debilitating injury or illness, then humane slaughter on-farm may be appropriate under the animal welfare code.

The story, headlined, drought takes deadly toll on farms is topped by a photo of a farmer about to shoot a cow.

But the cow isn’t a victim of the drought.

But Federated Farmers spokesperson Willy Leferink says the cow was not suffering from starvation and was euthanised in the presence of a vet because of a major injury.

“This was appropriate, humane and has absolutely nothing to do with the current drought.”

Mr Leferink says farmers cannot just kill stock if they cannot feed them because it is against the law.

“A farmer has to get in contact with the authorities and ask for help if they cannot feed their cows. They cannot just shoot them, that is against our laws,” he told 3 News.

NZ Herald has made a story fit an image. It wrongly creates the impression there are widespread animal welfare issues when in fact there aren’t.”. . .

Farmers are permitted to humanely slaughter an animal on their farm if is it is justified by severe illness or injury.

That’s what the photo shows but the headline and story would lead readers to think it was being shot because of the drought.

It is an out of context photo that tells the wrong story and sensationalises a serious issue of drought which is not one of animal welfare.

 


No excuses

February 9, 2013

An appeal by the Ministry of Primary Industries has resulted in a prison sentence for a farmer charged with animal welfare abuses.

. . . Lourens Barend Erasmus was sentenced to two years and one month imprisonment. Justice Priestly described his offending as “wilful, intentional and repetitive”, he deferred the start of the jail term until Monday and bailed Erasmus to his Pastor’s Waihi home.

Waikato/ Bay of Plenty District Compliance Manager Brendon Mikkelsen said Erasmus’ offending was the worst type of animal welfare cruelty dealt with in his district, and likely nationally through the courts.

The MPI investigation found that he had been breaking his cows tails (115 of the 135 cow herd) hitting them on the hind legs with a stainless steel pipe and stainless still milking cups at the milking shed. Brendon Mikkelsen said “The MPI inspection in late February 2012 revealed serious animal welfare issues, with cows on the property showing obvious signs of injuries and severe distress”.

“This sentencing reflects the view of MPI, industry and the Courts that any animal welfare abuse is unacceptable. MPI believes the sentencing reflects the seriousness of the offending and sends a strong message that this sort of behaviour will not be tolerated.”

Persons in charge of animals have an obligation to the welfare of those animals, and the vast majority of persons in charge of animals on farms and the industry take their obligations very seriously.

MPI’s Animal Welfare team cannot be everywhere so it is vital that farmers, the industry, associated on-farm service providers and the public maintain vigilance and report animal welfare breaches on our hot line 0800 00 83 33. Calls can be treated in confidence if necessary. MPI and industry will continue to work together to help ensure this type of incident does not occur in the future.

There are no excuses for abusing animals.

The MPI was correct to appeal an earlier, lesser sentence of home detention and the court is correct to treat this as a very serious offence.


Start of end for battery cages

December 17, 2012

The phasing out of battery cages for layer hens is too slow for animal welfare groups but people in the industry have concerns about the viability of their businesses.

Budgeting groups are also concerned that eggs will be come more expensive.

If battery cages are inhumane business viability and cost have to come second.

New Zealand has a very good record for animal welfare and that must apply to everything we farm, whether or not it’s exported.

The ODT discusses the issue here and visits Mainland Poultry at Waikouaiti which uses a colony system.


Why test party pills on animals . . .

December 3, 2012

. . .  when there are plenty of human guinea pigs willing to try them?

I accept the place of animals for testing drugs which have the potential for human good, but party pills don’t come into that category.

I wouldn’t be quite as blunt as Gravedodger, but if the pills have to be tested, it is very tempting to suggest that the idiots who buy and sell them be given the opportunity  rather than sacrificing innocent animals.


Animal welfare in event of eruption

November 21, 2012

A public service announcement:

There are no reports at this stage of stock being affected by today’s Tongariro eruption, and there is no indication that it has had any animal welfare effects. However, the NZ Veterinary Association (NZVA) warns that should today’s eruption worsen and begin to distribute significant amounts of ash, it could cause an animal welfare problem if water and clean feed are not available.

“In the event of significant ash fall access to fresh clean water is imperative for livestock grazing ash covered pastures,” Dr Donald Shanks from VetPlus in Taupo said today.

If water troughs become contaminated, they should be cleared of ash and refilled with clear water where practicable. Troughs can be covered in the event of future eruptions to prevent further ash contamination. But of course, access to water must always be available,” Dr Shanks said.

If an ash eruption covers grass, stock should be moved, if possible to where they can access longer length and grassy pasture to help reduce ash and contaminated soil ingestion.

Where longer length grass is not available, stock should be fed supplementary feed, such as hay or silage, although stock not used to it might take some time.

Dr Wayne Ricketts from the NZ Veterinary Association (NZVA) and co-chair of the National Animal Welfare Emergency Management Advisory Group noted that volcanic ash can affect both the skin and the lungs of animals.

“Ash can be detrimental to an animal’s health e.g. eye, skin (infections due to ash covering the animal’s body and not allowing air to circulate, therefore the skin becomes a humid environment for normal bacteria to proliferate) and lung damage,” he said.

If the eruption worsens animals with respiratory conditions should be removed from the area and/or kept indoors or under shelter if possible.

Ash can quickly wear grazing animals’ teeth down as well, with cattle and horses most at risk.

A common-sense approach to animal welfare should be adopted, should the eruption prove to be serious, the NZVA suggests.


Abuse is always wrong

November 5, 2012

The SPCA says it’s annual list of shame mirrors New Zealand’s violent society.

“Violence towards animals both co-occurs and is a predictor of violence towards humans”, says Robyn Kippenberger, National Chief Executive of the Royal New Zealand SPCA. “The sheer level of violence meted out on animals by some of the perpetrators in the cases in this year’s List of Shame is shocking, and underlying of wider issues in New Zealand.”

The Royal New Zealand SPCA, in partnership with Women’s Refuge, recently released research into the strong link between animal cruelty and domestic and family violence in New Zealand. This study, ‘Pets as Pawns’, showed that 50% of women interviewed had witnessed animal cruelty as part of their experience of domestic violence and 25% said their children had witnessed violence against animals. The research also revealed that one in three women surveyed reported delaying leaving violent relationships because they feared their pets and other animals would be killed or tortured. . .

Abuse is always wrong be it to people or animals and the list is truly shameful.

You can download the list here if you’ve the stomach for sickening reading.

 

 


Free-range no guarantee of animal welfare

February 24, 2012

Free-range hen farms are often touted as superior to those which keep their birds in cages and the eggs attract a premium price.

But the SPCA rightly points out that free-range is no guarantee of good welfare.

Recently a free-range layer hen farm in Martinborough was abandoned by the farmers. Many hens were left neglected, to fend for themselves. The SPCA wants to alert New Zealand consumers that term “free-range” is no guarantee of good animal welfare but simply a marketing term.

Robyn Kippenberger, National Chief Executive of the Royal New Zealand SPCA, confirms there are no legal definitions of any farming methods in New Zealand so unless farms are audited and checked regularly against specified standards there will always be room for poor welfare.

“Don’t be tricked by clever and confusing labelling of products” says Ms Kippenberger

“Marketing terms “free-to-roam”, “free-range” or “free-farmed” are no guarantee of good animal welfare without independent auditing and a third party trusted certification mark. Poor farming practices can lead to neglect such as seen in the free range farm in Martinborough. Events like this bring the whole industry into question”

The SPCA National Blue Tick accreditation scheme offers a system of specific standards and auditing to farmers wishing to ensure consumer confidence in their animal welfare practices. The Blue Tick logo on eggs, pork and chicken identifies these products have been farmed to high SPCA welfare requirements. Independent auditors visit farms regularly and have contractual agreement to spot audit without notice.  Part of this transparent process makes the farming standards applied by farmers and auditors available for consumers to download from the Royal New Zealand SPCA website.  http://rnzspca.org.nz/bluetick/blue-tick-standards

Lots of terms used in marketing to differentiate produce and products which are supposedly kinder on stock or the environment are empty words which don’t necessarily mean anything.

They’re designed to sell by salving the consciences of gullible consumers but there is no guarantee that the farm practices and methods of production live up to the marketing message.


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