Word of the day

August 9, 2012

Pervicacious – stubborn, willful, obstinate, refractory.


Inaugural Beef + Lamb New Zealand Sheep Industry Awards

August 9, 2012

The dairy industry is good at celebrating success, the sheep industry is catching up with the  inaugural Beef + Lamb New Zealand Sheep Industry Awards.

The B+LNZ Award for an individual or business making a significant contribution to the New Zealand sheep industry was presented to sheep breeding science pioneer Dr Jock Allison.

And a very deserving winner he is. Jock has spent decades working for the industry.

The Silver Fern Farms Award for sheep industry innovation was presented to Rowan Farmer, responsible for introducing and promoting sheep pregnancy and eye muscle scanning technology to New Zealand. Smedley Station and Cadet Training Farm was named winner of the AgITO Business Farm Trainer of the Year Award.

The terminal sire flock rated highest for genetic merit across the SIL-ACE evaluation was “The Burn”, Joseph and Judy Barkers’ Texel stud in Mid Canterbury. The dual purpose (ewe breed) rated highest for genetic merit was “MNCC”,Edward Dinger’s Coopworth stud in the Waikato.

The idea to hold an awards ceremony was initiated by B+LNZ Farmer Council member and ram breeder Russell Welsh. Mr Welsh says the dairy industry’s track record of celebrating success prompted him to suggest the awards ceremony. “It highlights best practice and, by default, that lifts all farmers.”

B+LNZ Chairman Mike Petersen says it is great to see farmers driving an initiative which celebrates the sheep industry, while also highlighting the immense value of SIL’s database to the sector.

“Any of us in the sheep business know that choosing a ram is a farm-by-farm decision– that we all have different priorities with regard to finishing, wool production and animal health issues. Consequently, these awards by no means represent ‘the top list’ for all. But it is very interesting to crunch the numbers and see what comes out the other side.

“My congratulations to all those named. You are part of a critical group of top performing ram breeders who are firmly focused on improving your animals’ traits and performance, so that we commercial farmers continue to improve our flocks year on year.”

B+LNZ Geneticist Mark Young says the process of identifying the top-performing flocks involved analysing the top 25-50 per cent of rams for each specified set of traits, before then adjusting the results to account for variations in flock size.

“This exercise also identified highly-rated sires that were making a big impact in industry. The Beef + Lamb New Zealand Super Sires are rated in the top 10 per cent for genetic merit in indexes of merit across key traits. They are also rams which have been used a lot, so have the most progeny.”

The awards are an excellent idea, it is high time sheep farmers celebrated their success.

Full results:

Top Flocks for Genetic Merit

Terminal Flock (Index: Lamb Growth + Meat Yield) Winner: The Burn (Texel), JT & J Barker, Winchmore Commendations:Tamlet (Texel), GA & K Smith, Wyndham Mount Linton (SufTex), Mt Linton Station, Otautau Kepler Supreme (Lamb Supreme), Focus Genetics Kepler, Te Anau Blackdale (Texel), LG & WI Black, Riverton

Dual Purpose Flock (Index: Reproduction + Lamb Growth + Adult Size + Wool) Winner: MNCC (Coopworth), AE Dinger, Cambridge Commendations:Ashgrove (Coopworth), DH Hartles, Maungaturoto Ashton Glen (Coopworth), R & R Mitchell, Clinton

Alliance High Performance Flock (Index: Reproduction + Lamb Growth + Adult Size + Wool) Winner: MNCC (Coopworth), AE Dinger, Cambridge Commendations:Ashgrove (Coopworth), DH Hartles, Maungaturoto Ashton Glen (Coopworth), R&R Mitchell, Clinton

Dual Purpose plus Meat Flock (Index: Reproduction + Lamb Growth + Adult Size + Wool + Meat Yield) Winner: MNCC (Coopworth), AE Dinger, Cambridge Commendations:Ashgrove (Coopworth), DH Hartles, Maungaturoto Marlow (Coopworth), S Wyn-Harris, Waipukurau

Dual Purpose plus Worm FEC Flock (Index: Reproduction + Lamb Growth + Adult Size + Wool + Parasite Resistance) Winner: Nithdale (Romney), A Tripp, Gore Commendations:Nikau (Coopworth), E & S Welch and K Broadbent, Tuakau Hazeldale (Perendale), Longview Farm, Tapanui

Dual Purpose plus Facial Eczema Flock (Index: Reproduction + Lamb Growth + Adult Size + Wool + FE Tolerance) Winner: ARDG (Romney), R & G Alexander, Tirau Commendations:MNCC (Coopworth), AE Dinger, Cambridge ARDG (Romney), RL& A Steed, Whangarei

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Super Sires

Terminal: 2960.101/03 (Texel), WTD, D Clarkson, Wairarapa Dual Purpose: 712.5203/04 (Coopworth), Marlow, S Wyn-Harris, Waipukurau Dual Purpose High Performance: 712.5203/04 (Coopworth), Marlow, S Wyn-Harris, Waipukurau Dual Purpose plus Meat Yield: 712.5203/04 (Coopworth), Marlow, S Wyn-Harris, Waipukurau Dual Purpose plus Worm FEC:406.486/07 (Romney), ARDG, R &G Alexander, Tirau Dual Purpose plus FE Tolerance: 2529.152/07 (Romney), ARDG, RL & A Steed, Whangarei.

BUSINESS AWARDS– BACKGROUND BIOS

B+LNZ Award for an individual or business making a significant contribution to the New Zealand sheep industry

Winner: Dr Arthur John (Jock) Allison, ONZM

Dr Jock Allison’s rural achievements are too numerous to cover in depth, but two highlights include:

• Initiated work with the Booroola Merino, which has lead to the discovery of a major gene fecundity gene. This gene has been transferred out of the Merino type into other long wool breeds.

• Imported the East Friesian sheep to New Zealand. The infusion of the East Friesian – known for its reproduction and milk producing characteristics – has been described as “the greatest advance in the sheep industry in the past 50 years”.

Silver Fern Farms Award for sheep industry innovation

Winner: Rowan Farmer

Pregnancy scanning in sheep was commercialised when Rowan Farmer set up Stockscan in 1991. The primary aim was to scan sheep for eye muscle area, but Rowan’s experience with quarantined sheep at Invermay gave him an insight into the management benefits of pregnancy scanning. Since then, the practice has expanded to include the identification of twins and triplets. Scanning has revolutionised the reproductive management of sheep throughout New Zealand.

AgITO Business Farm Trainer of the Year Award.

Winner: Smedley Station and Cadet Training Farm

Bequeathed to the King in 1919, Smedley Station and Cadet Training Farm is a 3186 hectare property, wintering 31,000 stock units. It is located in Central Hawkes Bay and operates as a commercial farm, as well as a self-funding training facility for 22 farming cadets annually (11 per intake, for a two-year programme). Since 1931, Smedley Station has trained more than 500 cadets. Graduates have gone on to roles, including working on farms, rural property advisors and finance experts, or into further education.


Simpler rules for ag vehicles welcome

August 9, 2012

The government has made some welcome changes to simplify rules for agricultural vehicles.

Associate Transport Minister Simon Bridges says changes to the rules for agricultural vehicles will reduce compliance costs while still ensuring safety. . .

The changes establish a two tier system for agricultural vehicles based on a 40km/h operating speed. Vehicles operating below this speed will be exempt from warrant of fitness and work time requirements.

A new licence endorsement will allow car licence holders to drive a greater range of agricultural vehicles once they prove they have the skills to do so. Other changes will improve and simplify the rules on pilot vehicles, work time variation schemes, hazard identification and vehicle visibility.

“Safety remains a key factor. The changes include a requirement that agricultural vehicles use a flashing amber beacon. This will better alert other road users to the presence of agricultural vehicles and associated hazards.

“The changes also reflect the Government’s focus on better and less regulation by improving compliance and providing greater operational flexibility for agricultural vehicle owners.

“Farmers and contractors sometimes work long and irregular hours. For instance, crops need to be harvested when they are ready and when the weather is right. The laws on the use of agricultural vehicles need to be fit for purpose and the proposed changes better reflect the needs of this very important industry.”

These are commonsense changes which will save time and money without compromising safety.

More information on the planned changes is here.


Thursday’s quiz

August 9, 2012

1. Who said: Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.” ?

2.  Which was Margaret Mahy’s first published book?

3. It’s amitié in French, amicizia in Italian, amistad in Spanish and whanaungatanga in Maori, what is it in english?

4. Who is the longest serving Prime Minister in the Pacific, and from which country?

5. Who won New Zealand’s 100th Olympic medal and in which sport ?


Accountability requires good information

August 9, 2012

Education Minister Hekia Parata announced that achievement education for schools will be publicly available on a Ministry of Education website, Education Counts,.

It will allow parents to see how their child’s school is performing and will allow the Government to see how well the system is doing as a whole in order to raise achievement for all learners.

Public Achievement Information will include National Standards data, Education Review Office (ERO) reports, schools’ annual reports and NCEA data. Over time other relevant national and international reports will be added.

National Standards data, reported for the first time this year, will be published on the website in September in the format that schools’ submitted it.

“I accept that the data is variable. It is the first year, and no consistent format was required so that was to be expected. It can only get better and better both in quality and its use over time and we want to work with schools to do this,” says Ms Parata.

Using a variety of data is a good idea because it will give a much fuller picture of a school’s performance than just one source, especially if that was reports on National Standards which the Minister admits is inconsistent.

Business New Zealand has welcomed the announcement:

BusinessNZ Chief Executive Phil O’Reilly says more accessible information is
essential to improve school performance.

“Accountability for performance requires good information. . . “

Unions and the left are painting this as an assault on schools and teaching. It’s not, it’s merely a tool to improve transparency and accountability.


Families different and diverse

August 9, 2012

New Zealand families today: a brief demographic profile published by the Families Commission is a summary of  facts about New Zealand families which reveals significant changes in our social fabric.

The Commission’s Chief Research Analyst, Dr Jeremy Robertson said the statistics reveal trends over several decades including fewer people marrying with more of those who do so marrying later and living together first.

“. . . The facts also correct some common misconceptions. For example, despite the belief that divorce is on the rise, there has actually been a recent fall in divorce rates, with the rate declining since 2003.”

He says, “With the increasing age of the population we are seeing a reduction in the proportion of households with children. Couple-only and one person households appear to be the fastest growing household type.”

More children are living with one parent. In 1976 10% of children were living with one parent, but by 2006 the figure was 28%. It is estimated that over a third of children will have lived in a sole parent family by the time they reach the age of 17.

Dr Robertson says. “Our household composition is changing and our experiences of family life are changing. Past patterns of family formation and child bearing have changed, with a wider diversity of pathways into family relationships. Children are also experiencing a greater range of living situations than the past.”

“These kinds of changes have implications for business, social policy, family services and local government” he says. It’s important to know what’s really happening in families today so we can provide the education, health and other social services that families, whānau and their children really need to prosper.” . . .

Key findings:

 Over the past 20 years couple-only and one person households have become more common.
• The rate of growth in the proportion of households headed by a sole parent may be levelling off.
• An estimated third of children will have lived in a sole parent family for a period of time by age 17.
• In 2006 57% of all adults aged 16 and over were living with a partner. The majority of these were married (76%), however a growing proportion of New Zealanders now live together without formally legalising their relationship.
• Since the early 1970s there has been an almost uninterrupted decline in the general marriage rate.
• Evidence that some people are delaying marriage is seen in the increasing median age of those who marry. The median age of women who married for the first time has risen from 20.8 years in 1971 to 28.2 years in 2010. The median age for men marrying for the first time has increased by about 7 years.
• Divorce rates have increased until recently (there has been a drop-off since the mid 2000s). The proportion of people who marry for a second time has increased.
• The median age for women giving birth is now 30 years, compared with 26 years in the early 1960s and just under 25 years in the early 1970s. Fewer New Zealand women in their teens are having a child compared with the 1960s.
• The proportion of ex-nuptial births is now nearly 50%.
• Between 1991 and 2012 the proportion of women holding a post-school qualification increased from 32% to 50%. The gender gap has been steadily closing – from 12 percentage points in 1991 to 3 percentage points in 2012.
• The average weekly hours spent by children in licensed ECE settings has increased from 13.3 hours in 2000 to 20.4 hours in 2011.

The full report is here.

 


Provincial wooing won’t work

August 9, 2012

Labour leader David Shearer is trying to woo the provinces.

He can make all the promises he wants but it won’t work with anyone who thinks seriously about what a Labour-led government would deliver:

* A capital gains tax.

* A much lower commitment to reducing public spending.

* A divided caucus.

* Coalition partners which are anti-irrigation, anti-business and anti-imigration.

Labour did very badly in the provinces in last year’s election. Nothing has changed in the party since then to make it or its policies any more appealing.

 


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