Generation Lamb

January 26, 2014

Australian Lambassador Sam Kekovich does it again for Australia Day:

SAM Kekovich is about to hit our TV screens again with his annual Australia Day Address to the Nation, his 10th year in a row as “Lambassador”.

In the past he has launched a music video, set out on “dip-lamb-attic” missions to encourage the rest of the world “to be more Australian” and sparked a trans-Tasman furore over his remarks about New Zealand’s former prime minister.

This year he breaks with entertainment convention and is working with both animals and children when he is seen thrusting a lamb chop into the hands of a child or “Generation Lamb” in an irreverent ad which also features a swipe at the remaining original Wiggle and a giant baby crushing a vegan barbecue. . .

A decade down the track Kekovich still takes the campaign with a grain of salt – and maybe a touch of pepper and some tomato sauce.

“I’ve always been fighting the good fight for lamb, there is no doubt about that,” said the former Australian Rules footballer on Thursday. . .


Rural round-up

August 29, 2013

In quite pursuit of the perfect lamb - Peter Watson:

Drive past Brent and Bernadette Hodgkinson’s farm in the Tadmor Valley and you would barely give it a second glance.

There is no flash house and garden and the property is far from immaculate.

But behind the modest appearance is a very smart, profitable business.

Not only were the Hodgkinsons finalists in the recent national sheep supplier of the year awards, they grow the meatiest lambs supplied to our largest co-operative, Alliance, by any farmer in the country. And they have been producing high-quality, high-yielding lambs year after year from a property where soil fertility is naturally poor and the climate can range from bitterly cold in winter to drought in summer. . .

Unsung hero recognised - Sally Rae:

Kevin Smith loves farming and he enjoys passing on his knowledge and skills to the younger generation.

Mr Smith, from Middlemarch, was recently named the AgITO Sheep Industry Trainer of the Year at the Beef and Lamb New Zealand sheep industry awards, beating fellow finalists Telford (a division of Lincoln University) and Waipaoa Station Farm Cadet Training Trust.

No-one was more delighted than the woman who nominated him, AgITO’s Rebecca Williamson-Kavanaugh, who was ”extremely excited” and very proud. . .

Employing migrant workers in the primary sector -

With the rapid expansion of the primary sector, particularly in dairy farming, an international farm advisor specialising in labour management from the University of California, Professor Gregorio Billikopf, is visiting New Zealand to discuss labour changes and the increasing levels of migrant workers being employed.

In New Zealand for two weeks, Professor Gregorio Billikopf will have a number of speaking engagements, including addressing delegates at the Australasia Pacific Extension Network International Conference being held at Lincoln University from 26 to 28 August 2013, and a speaking engagement in Ashburton on Thursday 29 August. 

“Professor Gregorio Billikopf is an internationally recognised expert when it comes to migrant workers in the primary sector,” says Lincoln University’s Associate Professor in Employment Relations, Dr Rupert Tipples. . .

No more old tyres for silage stacks:

A THROW away remark – “there has to be a better way” – by Toni Johnson while helping her father place tyres on a silage stack cover, led to one of the best innovations at National Fieldays.

Aqua Anchors are either 14m or 16m long and 75mm or 65mm sections of lie-flat hoses hermetically sealed at both ends and filled with water. 

They lie over and around the edges of silage stacks to hold the cover in place and keep the crop from the elements. They replace traditional tyres. A patent is pending. . .

Nothing humble about the bumble:

Avocado growers are keen to hear the latest research findings on the use of bumblebees as pollinators, says AVOCO technical manager Colin Partridge, so they can plan to put the findings into practice and improve the consistency of harvests.

The topic will be addressed at the Australia-New Zealand avocado conference in Tauranga next month, and AVOCO, as principal sponsor of the conference and the largest grower group, appreciates the significance of the research.

“If avocado growers could soon be able to call in special reinforcements to pollinate their trees – the not-so-humble bumblebee – it will do a lot to stabilise the industry and could even help overcome the persistent boom/bust nature of the harvests,” says Mr Partridge. . .

Wairarapa Water Use Project Appoints Project Director:

The Wairarapa Water Use Project has appointed Michael Bassett-Foss to lead future investigations into what could be one of the largest economic and social development projects in the greater Wellington region.

Still in its early stage, the project aims to develop a multi-purpose water scheme to collect and store water then distribute it in the dry season for a variety of economic and community uses in an environmentally sustainable way.

Previously Mr Bassett-Foss has had regional development, investment and strategic roles in the private and public sectors in New Zealand, South America, Eastern Europe and South East Asia. . .


Rural round-up

July 25, 2013

Korean visit to address fears about trade direction - Marie

Prime Minister John Key heads for South Korea on Thursday for an official visit warning that New Zealand’s fifth biggest trading partner will slip down the rankings without a free trade agreement.

War commemorations will be a central feature of the visit, with 30 New Zealand veterans joining Key’s entourage to mark the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice. 

Key said outside those events, the priority was to make progress on reaching an FTA. . .

Farmer Confidence Rebounds, New Survey Finds:

Federated Farmers’ New-Season Farm Confidence Survey, undertaken at the start of the 2013/14 season, has shown a major turnaround in farmer confidence.  This result is in keeping with other recent farm and business confidence surveys.

“Farmers are showing a lot more optimism in both the wider economy and individual farm prospects,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“You could say farmers are in recovery mode but this bounce back comes off a low base.  There is still a large gap in the sentiment of dairy farmers when compared to the other farming sectors.

“Six months ago, farmers were fairly negative about the wider economy and were very pessimistic about their own profitability.   This was particularly the case for sheep and beef farmers. In contrast, dairy farmers were feeling more optimistic than they had been at this point last year [July 2012], thanks mainly to better dairy commodity prices and growing conditions. . .

Alliance lamb in Oliver’s Russian eatery - Alan Williams:

Alliance Group lamb from New Zealand will be on the menu at the new Jamie Oliver restaurant due to open in Russian city St Petersburg.

The contract was a good boost to the business Alliance had built with Russian food service companies and restaurants over the past 12 years, marketing general manager Murray Brown said.

It highlighted the growing status of the group’s Pure South brand as a leading red-meat export, he said. . .

Eliminating wool’s dirty secret:

With New Zealand’s main-shear approaching, Federated Farmers and the NZ Shearing Contractors Association are backing moves to cut the woolshed contamination of wool. If successful, it could boost farmgate returns by a couple of million dollars each year.

“When you are dealing with a $700 million export, cutting wool contamination translates into a big opportunity for fibre farmers,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre spokesperson.

“As a farmer, the easiest way for us to increase our returns is to focus on what we can control. Woolshed contamination is a perfect example of this. . .

Head in a bucket – he does that every morning – Mad Bush Farm:

 He’s old, muddy, grumpy and he wasn’t making it any secret he wasn’t going to be sharing his breakfast with Ranger and the other little horses. As for me well the black eye has at last waned to a faded reminder of Muphy’s visit last week to the farm. The cows and naughty little Tempest, are finding out the hard way that an electrified wire is now on the road fence. We’ve had a few fine days, it’s still a bog hole here. My complaints are going unheeded by Mr Winter. He won’t be leaving until the end of August – darn. I’m going back to the mud now to complain some more or mayube I’ll just go and have a coffee instead

Talking of horses I found this beautiful tribute to the Arabian horse done with clips from the Black Stallion and other films. . .

Jousting for poll position – Milk Maid Marian:

Scuffles broke out right across the paddock as the weak winter sun lit the stage for a bovine pugilism festival. The cows were feeling magnificent and, unable to contain their energy, were ready to take on all comers.

The kids and I love watching the cows “do butter-heads” and the cows seem to love it, too. For every pair or trio engaged in warfare, there will be a group of curious onlookers and one scuffle seems to inspire more outbreaks.

Does butter-heads have a serious purpose though? Yes, it does. The herd has a very structured pecking order. Cows come into the dairy in roughly the same order every milking and the smallest and most timid are inevitably last. Mess them up by splitting the herd into seemingly random groups for a large-scale vet procedure like preg testing and you can expect trouble. . .


Rural round-up

July 21, 2013

Lamb price tipped to rise – Tim Cronshaw:

The return of $100 lambs for the 2013-14 season will go some way to lifting the spirits of sheep farmers.

Farmer confidence was hard to find during the worst drought in 70 years in parts of the North Island, spreading to a dry summer in Canterbury, and with an average lamb price of $85.

Meat companies believe $100 could be the average price for lamb for the new season starting in October, with industry good organisation Beef + Lamb New Zealand setting only a slightly more modest $98.50. . .

Lamb slide “will be bigger than expected” – Richard Rennie:

IDA Valley farmer Rob Gardyne believes Beef + Lamb New Zealand analysts risk significantly underestimating how far lamb numbers will fall this year.

His flock of Perendale stud ewes in Central Otago is expected to deliver a 200% lambing rate, alongside 135% from a mixed commercial flock.

However, he estimated the hit to the sheep sector overall this year would be greater than anticipated.

This was due in part to heavier-than-estimated losses of ewes to slaughter in the drought, as well as continuing conversions to dairying. . .

Optimism on meat progress – Tim Cronshaw:

Sheep farming leaders sense that a group of meat companies are coming closer to announcing a decision on whether they can find a way to work together in reforming the red meat industry.

Federated Farmers president Bruce Wills said he felt talks were “imminent”.

He said he would be surprised if farmers did not see some announcement in the next two to three weeks.

“We are going to have more in-depth industry discussions the next few weeks when the meat company proposal comes out. . . .

Pasture growth exceeds expectations - Tony Bennie:

As a few early calves arrived on Canterbury dairy farms this week, there were positive signs for the new season with good pasture covers throughout the region, says DairyNZ regional leader Virginia Serra.

“When we are talking to farmers, they are feeling quite positive and the main thing you consider now is the pasture cover on the milking platform. Is it where it should be for calving? And yes, in most cases it is,” Serra said.

Pasture growth had exceeded expectations in both June and July.

“The Methven area has been quite affected with the snow and they are perhaps just a little bit below target, but they are still quite happy with the amount of feed on the platform.” . . .

Westland enters infant formula market in China:

Westland Milk Products is the latest to enter the rapidly expanding infant formula maket in China, with the launch of three new products in Shanghai.

The West Coast co-operative is producing infant, follow-on and growing up powders, at a new plant in Hokitika as part of a move to reduce its reliance on bulk dairy commodties.

Westland has also appointed it’s first Chinese based representative, Harry Wang as nutritional development manager for China and is working with Chinese companies to distribute the formula products. . .

Time for an update – Cabbage Tree Farm:

It’s Winter here at CTF, and we’ve had a few frosts, but some lovely fine days too. Fortunately not too cold being at the Northern end of NZ. We don’t get snow here, it’s usually just wet, with a cold southerly wind or else fine and sunny during the day but frosty at night.

I’ve been out pruning our many fruit trees, some of the bigger ones have needed quite a bit of work and that’s very time consuming. I’ve been fairly brutal to them poor things but they did really need to be ‘minimised’ – we don’t want huge fruit trees with inaccessible fruit for one thing! While we may not get such a great crop this next season, I’m hoping the following one will be good. . . .


Rural round-up

March 17, 2013

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. . .


Why is NZ lamb tastier?

March 12, 2013

An email says:

A friend in London asked me about why Scottish lamb isn’t as good as New Zealand lamb. I thought you might know, or might know someone who knows what the actual difference in it is.

I’ve had lamb at Gleneagles and it was less dense in texture and a different flavour, perhaps more intense lanolin, but I am not sure.

All lamb isn’t equal.

John Key was one of the judges at the Glammies last year and said it was easy to detect  distinct differences in taste and texture between the entries.

A Spanish speciality is baby lamb which has a very different taste and texture from the older lamb we’re accustomed to.

Breeding and feeding both influence taste, even if the meat is prepared and cooked the same way.

I am not sure if climate and soils also have an influence which might explain why New Zealand lamb is tastier  than Scottish lamb and welcome answers to the email question from anyone who knows more.


Lamb cheaper here and there

January 17, 2013

Butterfly legs of lamb have been selling at an Oamaru New World supermarket for $19 a kilo.

I appreciate that as a consumer but as a producer realise that is reflecting lower prices for our stock.

The red ink in meat companies’ annual reports showed that last years prices were higher than they should have been and we’re paying for it now.

We’re not in this by ourselves, the National Sheep Association in Britain is calling for supermarkets there to favour local lamb ahead of ours:

The National Sheep Association has claimed supermarkets are not stocking UK lamb as it is ‘out of season’ and instead opting for New Zealand meat.

The association said it was a ‘bitter blow’ for sheep farmers at a time when many are not receiving financial returns to cover the cost of production.

Farmers are losing £29 on average for every lamb they sell at market after new figures revealed farm gate prices have dropped by a fifth in the past year.

Lamb prices are at their lowest in three years due to a poor summer, rising production costs and a longer finishing period.

“Given that New Zealand lamb on supermarket shelves is not as cheap as it has been historically, a better pricing structure in supermarkets, a wider selection of UK cuts and better presentation on the shelf would all benefit shoppers and farmers alike” the NSA said.

But Sainsbury’s pledged to increase the amount it pays for lamb until the end of February at more than 60p/kg above the market rate.

The news came after several farming groups called on retailers to show a ‘genuine commitment’ to their British suppliers and customers.

More than 800 farmers who supply Sainsbury’s own brands will receive £3.80/kg for lamb, in a move that will ease the burden on some already hard-pressed farmers struggling with the collapse in the price of lamb.

“Sainsbury’s has recognised that sheep farmers cannot run businesses on current prices. It’s clearly time for the whole trade to now show they are committed to a sustainable UK lamb industry” said NFU livestock board chairman Charles Sercombe. . .

The recession has had an impact on demand and therefore prices for better cuts, notably lamb racks.

But the problem of low returns isn’t just due to meat prices, it’s also caused by low demand for wool and other by products.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,433 other followers

%d bloggers like this: