No excuse for cruelty, deliberate discharge

August 5, 2015

Don’t click on this link if you’re going to be upset by details of ill treatment of animals:

. . .  Michael James Whitelock pleaded guilty in Greymouth District Court on Monday to 12 charges, including ill treatment of animals, unlawful possession of firearms and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

He was bailed to his home in Timaru until sentencing on October 7.

Whitelock was the dairy manager for a Landcorp farm near Westport from July 2012 until his suspension in September 2013. A Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) investigation began that month after a Landcorp manager arranged for a vet to examine the herd.  . .

There is no excuse for cruelty to animals.

People who can’t treat animals with the care and respect they deserve shouldn’t even contemplate working on a farm.

Nor is there any excuse for this:

A dairy farmer has been fined almost $73,000 for deliberately discharging effluent into his drains which then flowed into the Coromandel Peninsula’s Tairua River.

The 11 years of illegal discharges is “quite staggering”, the Waikato Regional Council says. . .

Accidents could happen on the best of farms. Deliberate discharges might still occur in third world countries but they should not happen here.

 


Rural round-up

July 19, 2015

Competition big issue for evolving Fonterra – Dene Mackenzie:

Numerous challenges exist for Fonterra in evolving from a commodity mindset and strong dairy industry competition across emerging markets is a key issue, Forsyth Barr broker Andrew Rooney said yesterday.

Fonterra was competing against larger, and perhaps more capable, companies.

”We are concerned the premium New Zealand image will be devalued as the co-op increases its international milk pool and as foreign investors become more heavily involved in New Zealand.” . . .

Farmer fined for cow deaths:

A South Waikato dairy farmer was sentenced in Rotorua District Court today (17 July) for neglect and ill-treatment of cows that became malnourished or starved to death in his care.

Tony Clayton, 54, of Atiamuri, was disqualified from owning or being the “person in charge” of animals for a period of two years. He also received 240 hours of community work, nine months of supervision and has to pay reparation costs of $3,100 plus additional court costs of $150 for both charges.

Mr Clayton had earlier pleaded guilty to charges failing to ensure the physical, health and behavioural needs (neglect) of animals in his care, and reckless ill-treatment of animals resulting in death. . .

Working Together on Sheep Breeding Initiative:

On the 26th of last month, the arrival of the sheep imported from New Zealand at the Mexican port of Mazatlán was met with health checks carried out by 22 officials from the National Service for Health, Safety and Food Quality (Senasica), from the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA).

The Minister of Agriculture, Enrique Martínez y Martínez and the Governor of the State of Mexico, Eruviel Avila, handed over 35 thousand sheep to local producers. . .

 

Ag grads start on lawyers’ salaries – Ashley Walmsley:

TERTIARY agriculture students are entering jobs with starting salaries equivalent to lawyers.

The statement chimed in the already pricked ears of listeners at the 2015 National Horticulture Convention on the Gold Coast yesterday.

The statement’s creator, Professor Neal Menzies says ag graduates face a smorgasbord of options after they conquer the books.

The University of Queensland dean of agriculture was one of the early speakers yesterday at the Convention which brought together vegetable, apple and pear growers for the first time.  . .

Farmer dreams of shearing competition at the Commonwealth Games – Warwick Long:

A Victorian wool grower is leading a renewed charge to have shearing recognised as a sport.

Robert Harding, from Nhill, has the support of the Victorian Farmers Federation and intends to lobby the Australian Sports Commission for formal recognition.

He said the ultimate goal would be to have shearers vying for a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games. . .

Nutrition is key:

Nutrition is key heading into calving season, with farmers reminded that not all products are created equal when it comes to rearing the future of their herds.

World-leading and progressive family-owned animal nutrition company, Fiber Fresh, believes animals’ futures are based on getting it right in the calf shed from day one by including quality fibre.

Managing director Michael Bell says by getting nutrition right at the very start, calves have the ability to develop to their full potential, maximising their production and profitability potential. . .

 

 

 

 


Rural round-up

July 3, 2015

More work urged on water quality – Neal Wallace:

A good start but still more to be done.

That is the conclusion of a stocktake by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment on managing the quality of fresh water.

Dr Jan Wright praised the Government for implementing the National Policy Statement to improve fresh water management and regional councils for taking steps to improve water quality, but warned there was still much to be done. . . .

AGMARDT goes Green:

Rural businessman Richard Green of Canterbury has been appointed to the AGMARDT board.

AGMARDT is an independent not-for-profit trust that aims to foster and enable innovation and leadership within the agricultural, horticultural and forestry sectors of New Zealand.

 “We are very fortunate to have Richard join the AGMARDT board of trustees,” says chair Barry Brook. . .

Precision aerial spreading a reality:

Precision fixed wing aerial fertiliser application on hill country is now a reality, says nutrient cooperative Ballance Agri-Nutrients.

New technology in top dressing planes is set to resolve some of the challenges for farmers relying on aerial application, offering the ability to take precision up a gear.

SpreadSmart is a variable rate application system. This allows different amounts of fertiliser to be applied to different areas of the farm to boost productivity and protect waterways and sensitive areas. . .

Donkeys keep dogs on the hoof – Cara Jeffrey:

LIVESTOCK producers in southern NSW are ramping up their fight against wild dogs with baiting, trapping and donkeys all part of the arsenal.

Rob and Sally Bulle introduced donkeys to their Holbrook property “Ardrossan” two years ago to help combat wild dog attacks against their first-cross ewe flock – particularly at lambing time.

The donkeys – a mixture of jacks and jennys – have proven their worth and have remained a fixture on the property. . .

Feeding beats slow- release worm control:

A large anthelmintic trial investigating the efficacy of controlled-release capsules (CRC) and long-acting (LA) anthelmintics in pregnant ewes should ring alarm bells for sheep farmers. The study was initiated by the Whangaehu and Alfredton Farm Business Groups because of the widespread perception among farmers that use of these products will reliably return significant production benefits to both the ewe and her lambs. 

The perception held by farmers, and promoted by commercial interests, appeared to the group to be largely unsupported hence the reason for a widespread, repeated study to provide independent data on both the size and variability in the production response from treating ewes with a CRC pre-lambing. . .

Your first dog – Lloyd Smith:

When buying your first dog, first make sure the animal is going to be an asset not a liability. Sometimes young folk can be a dumping ground for old dogs past their use-by date. But a genuine dog with a few useful years left is a good option to get you started. These dogs are not always easy to source.

A dog’s useful working life is usually pretty much over by 10 years old. I would be hesitant about buying a dog of more than seven years old. Old dogs are pretty set in their ways and are limited in what you can change about them so expectations should not be high. . .


Two tales of one shipment

July 2, 2015

The Ministry of Primary Industries has one story:

The Ministry for Primary Industries has confirmed the 45,000 sheep and 3,200 cattle, exported to Mexico are now at a holding farm following their 15-day journey from Timaru.

A total of 191 sheep and one cow died – 0.42% and 0.03% respectively of the sheep and cattle in the shipment. This compares favourably with the average mortality of 0.71% in 40 Australian live sheep shipments last year.

MPI’s Director Animal and Animal Products, Matthew Stone, said the exact cause of the deaths is not yet known but, as a matter of course, MPI has required a detailed voyage report by mid-July from the exporter, which will include information from the veterinarian who travelled with the shipment.

“Nothing unexpected happened in terms of the animals’ health and welfare during the voyage,” said Mr Stone.

“The stockmen on board report the sheep had a 10% to 12% weight gain on the 15 day voyage.”

Mexican authorities oversaw the completion of the vessel’s disembarkation process. . .

And SAFE has another story:

192 lives lost on export shipment

Animal advocacy organisation SAFE is appalled that 191 sheep and one cow perished on board a controversial live export shipment to Mexico. The shipment of a reported 45,000 sheep and 3,200 cattle was the largest cargo of animals ever to leave New Zealand.

“192 animals have died and it begs the question, how many more will die on the next stage of their journey?” says SAFE’s executive director, Hans Kriek.

The sheep are being transported by truck for 1000 kilometres in 30-degree temperatures to a farm near Mexico City from where they will be distributed to smaller farms. It was reported that some sheep also died at the feedlots as they waited to board.

There are no reports yet on why the animals died, but it is known that on live export ships a number of animals die from illness or starvation. Some suffer from ‘inanition’ – not recognising the ship food of pellets as food as they were previously used to being on pasture.

When we were in Darwin at All Flex’s PPP conference a couple of weeks ago the preparation of animals for live shipments, which includes conditioning on the feed they will eat at sea, was explained.

Stock are monitored carefully and any not eating enough are culled before they embark and well before there is any danger of starvation.

I am certain that those caring for the sheep in New Zealand would take similar care for both animal welfare and financial reasons.

Although the shipment is purportedly for breeding purposes rather than for slaughter, which is illegal, SAFE says this latest shipment ignores the spirit of the ban on live export since the animals will still eventually be slaughtered in Mexico after they are no longer required for breeding, most likely in conditions that would be deemed cruel and illegal in this country. . .

 New Zealand’s meat works are world leading, I don’t know enough to comment on Mexico’s but the sheep and cattle would eventually be slaughtered had they stayed in New Zealand.

Apropos of dying at sea, another fact we learned in Darwin was that the death rate for people on cruise liners is as high as 2.5%.

Weight gain is also common among people on cruises though probably not as high as the 10-12% gain of the stock.


Rural round-up

June 13, 2015

 Farmer Wellness Big Breakfast – Nathan Guy

The title of my speech today is “Managing Through Tough Times”.

I came up with the idea of this function when I was out running about six weeks ago and felt the time was right for the Government to communicate two very important messages to our farming families and communities.

Firstly, I want to acknowledge that these are challenging times for many farmers and the wider rural community, particularly in the dairy sector, but that we expect much improved conditions in the longer term.

Secondly, I wanted to reinforce the message that if farmers are struggling, or have concerns about how things are going, you are not alone and help is out there.

We know there are plenty of challenges this year, as there always is with farming. . .

$500,000 boost to help rural mental health:

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy have announced a $500,000 funding boost to support mental health initiatives targeted at rural communities.

“Rural depression is a significant issue. The physical isolation as well as the uncertainties of being reliant on the land creates different pressures to those living in an urban setting,” says Dr Coleman.

“The Ministry of Health and Ministry for Primary Industries have each contributed $250,000 to the one off funding boost. . .

Federated Farmers Fielday Seminars: “The essence of farming: water, land, capability”:

Agribusiness expert, Jaqueline Rowarth, has told a Federated Farmers seminar at the Mystery Creek Fieldays this afternoon that investment is necessary for ensuring supplies of sufficient farm water, but meanwhile maintaining water quality.

She said this investment is only possible if primary produce meets the huge challenge of attracting good prices.

Professor Rowarth told the 50 odd people at the seminar New Zealand has both water quantity and quality, which farmers are capturing and using responsibly. . .

 

Greenhouse gas study tour winners announced:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced the two winners of the 2015 Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (GRA) – World Farmer Organisation Study Tour in Argentina later this year.

Doug Avery and Zach Mounsey have been selected as winners by a panel including Mr Guy and Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew after giving presentations at Fieldays this year.

“The purpose of this study tour is to increase global understanding and engagement on agricultural greenhouse gas research. These two winners will have an important role as ambassadors for New Zealand in sharing environmental management practices that support sustainable productivity. . .

Breeder confident of sheep’s safety:

A Canterbury sheep breeder with stock on board a major shipment to Mexico says she has been in touch with the destination farm and has no concerns about the animals’ safety.

Penni Loffhagen, who is one of the biggest Suffolk stud breeders in the country, has sold 15 young pedigree sheep to a Mexican farm for breeding.

Her ewes and rams are among 50,000 sheep now at sea on the way to Mexico. . .

They’re not ‘our’ sheep – Kiwiblog:

Newstalk ZB reports:

Labour wants assurances that tens of thousands of sheep and cattle being shipped to Mexico won’t be killed when they get there.

The shipment leaves Timaru today.

Leader Andrew Little told Newstalk ZB’s Rachel Smalley the regulations are clear – you can export live sheep for breeding purposes, you can’t for slaughter. . .

PGG Wrightson lifts annual earnings outlook for a second time, warns of weak farmer confidence – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson, the rural services firm controlled by China’s Agria Corp, lifted its annual earnings outlook as second-half trading comes in ahead of expectations, but warned weak farmer confidence may weigh on future sales.

The Christchurch-based company expects annual operating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation to be between $66 million and $69 million in the year ending June 30, above the February forecast for earnings between $62 million and $68 million. That in itself was an upgrade from previous guidance to beat last year’s earnings of $58.7 million. . .

New Zealand Avocados Achieve Record Sales Volume:

New Zealand’s largest ever avocado crop has been successfully harvested, packed and marketed with a massive 7 million trays sold during the 2014-15 season.

Jen Scoular, Chief Executive of NZ Avocado, today announced the new record volume which was 43 per cent higher than last season, and up from a previous industry high of 6.1 million trays sold in 2011-12 and a great industry return.

“Growth in the consumption of avocados in our key markets continues to be very impressive. . .

Best Young Butchers in the Region:

Two of New Zealand’s top young butchers have been named following the Alto Young Butcher & Competenz Butcher Apprentice of the Year Lower North Island regional final yesterday.

Havelock North local, Justin Hinchco from New World Havelock North took out the Alto Young Butcher category and Vernon Atutahi from New World Marton finished first place in the Competenz Butcher Apprentice category. . .

 

Body condition score to become a breeding trait:

Body condition score (BCS) is to be included as a new trait in Breeding Worth (BW) from February 2016.

Breeding Worth provides farmers with an economic measure of genetic merit (profit per five tonne of dry matter) and is calculated for all dairy cattle. During a National Breeding Objective Review in 2012, BCS (particularly late lactation BCS) was identified as an important trait with economic value to farmers. . .

 

Wool values ease:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that the North Island offering this week, made up predominantly of short coarse Second Shear wools compared to the more varied South Island longer selection last sale on 4th June, saw prices ease despite the weakening New Zealand dollar.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies came back by 1.95 percent with a 98 percent clearance of the 9,400 bales on offer. . .

NIWA’s Fieldays stand a winner:

NIWA’s Fieldays team is today basking in the glory of winning the Best Indoor Agribusiness Site awarded by the National Agricultural Fieldays organisation for the 2015 event.

Dr Mark Bojesen-Trepla, NIWA’s manager of marketing and industry engagement, said the win was a great endorsement for the team who had worked extremely hard to put together a space that would be eye-catching and relevant to farmers.

“We are delighted our efforts have been formally recognised but are also looking forward to meeting more farmers during the rest of Fieldays and showing them how we can help.” . . .

 

 


Rural round-up

May 6, 2015

Animal Welfare Amendment Bill passes final reading:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed the unanimous support for the Animal Welfare Amendment Bill during its third and final reading in Parliament today.

“This bill will strengthen the protection of animals in New Zealand by improving the enforceability, clarity, and transparency of the Animal Welfare Act 1999,” says Mr Guy.

“New Zealanders care deeply about how animals are treated. Sixty eight per cent of New Zealand households have at least one pet, and we earn around $25 billion a year by exporting animal products such as meat, milk and wool.

“How we treat animals matters not just to animals, but to ourselves and overseas markets.” . .

Leading light lost – Sandra Taylor:

This country’s beef industry lost one of its leading lights with the sudden death of Lindsay Haugh last month. The North Canterbury farmer’s enthusiasm for cattle breeding was reflected in the measurable progress he made in the commercial Angus beef breeding herd he ran on The Sisters, the Haugh family’s farm at Parnassus.

He bought the first of his Angus breeding cows in 1990 and this ignited his passion for breeding and genetics.

A great proponent of estimated breeding values (EBVs) Haugh showed how well they could work in a commercial breeding herd by incrementally increasing the efficiency and productivity of his cows. Haugh’s focus was on producing steers with superior-quality carcase characteristics for the Five Star Beef feedlot from cows that were able to survive and reproduce off marginal hill country. . .

‘Farming is a fantastic way to bring up a family’  – Kate Taylor:

The best fertiliser for any property is the farmer’s footprints say Sam and Gemma Hain, who own the 1050ha Waikura Station at Pehiri, west of Gisborne, and 135ha block Turiwai at Te Karaka.

The Hains were finalists in this year’s East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

“I’m home for morning tea and lunch most days. Farming is a great lifestyle and financially very rewarding as well. It gives us a lot of pleasure and enjoyment to do it well,” says Sam.

Waikura has large tracts of native bush – about 150ha in total. Sam says their value is in the “health of the land… the wildlife… you can get up in the morning and hear a cacophony of bird sound. This is our slice of paradise,” he says. . .

New quad bike rules ‘heavy-handed’:

Farmers are increasingly frustrated and fearful over upcoming changes to health and safety legislation around quad bikes, a farming industry leader says.

Later this year, changes to the Health and Safety Act will result in tougher penalties for non-compliance, including higher fines for people riding quad bikes with passengers.

Beef and Lamb New Zealand chairman James Parsons said farmers in the meat and wool industry were concerned.

Farms were workplaces as well as homes, and new harsher penalties for having passengers on quad bikes would change things dramatically for families; what was needed was a code of compliance for for quad bikes rather than “draconian” new rules, he said. . .

Kiwi Sheep And Beef Farmers And French Counterparts Share Common Ground:

New Zealand and French livestock farmers face many similar challenges, says Beef + Lamb New Zealand, following a visit here by French livestock sector leaders.

“Farmers in France have a lot in common with Kiwi farmers – they are dealing with many of the same sorts of issues that sheep and beef farmers come up against here. The more we share perspectives on those issues, the better that we’re able to understand each other,” said B+LNZ chief executive Dr Scott Champion.

Supporting the sheep and beef sector’s market opportunities is a major priority for B+LNZ – including in high-value markets like France, where New Zealand has a stable and long-established trading relationship. New Zealand exported around $135 million of sheepmeat to France in 2014, more than half of which was chilled product. . .

 Wool scouring merger a win for New Zealand:

Christchurch-based wool processor and trader New Zealand Wool Services has welcomed the Commerce Commission’s preliminary endorsement of its merger with Cavalier Wool Holding’s wool scouring operations in New Zealand.

Cavalier’s scouring services will be merged with the scouring assets of New Zealand Wool Services International, owned by Australian-based wool processor and merchant Lempriere, pending final Commerce Commission approval.

Lempriere managing director William Lempriere said the purchase was a positive and overdue result for the New Zealand wool industry. . .

 

Berries and from China refuels Country of Origin labelling debate – Stephanie Melbourne:

New phone scanning technologies could add a new angle to Country of Origin labelling, which traditionally in New Zealand has been a voluntary practice for the food industry to use as a marketing tool, even though it is required in Europe, the United States, Canada and Australia.

A recent labelling issue in Australia regarding frozen berries imported from China has further fuelled the ongoing debate surrounding Country of Origin Labelling (CoOL) highlighting its relevancy and the value of knowing exactly where the food we eat comes from.

The Australian CoOL standard which commenced in 2006 requires mandatory country of origin labelling on all packaged foods, fish, pork and fresh whole or cut fruit and vegetables. They also have guidelines for the use of the terms “Product of Australia” and “Made in Australia”. Since then, there has been a raft of public reviews, and legislative and regulatory attempts to clarify the laws relating to CoOL in Australia. . . .


Bureaucracy trumps science & animal welfare

April 28, 2015

This is the triumph of bureaucracy over science and animal welfare:

British organic farmers are being forced to treat their livestock with homeopathic remedies under new European Commission rules branded ‘scientifically illiterate’ by vets.

Although homeopathy has been branded as ‘rubbish’ by the government’s Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies, organic farmers have been told they must try it first under a new EU directive which came into force in January.

The regulation means that animals could be left diseased or in pain for far longer than necessary and organic meat could end up containing higher levels of bacteria, vets have warned.

John Blackwell, President of the British Veterinary Association, said: “We should always use medicines which have a strong science base and homeopathic remedies are not underpinned by any strong science.

“Disease is painful and farmers have an obligation to reduce that pain and not allow their animals to suffer so this regulation is troubling. It may lead to serious animal health and welfare detriment.

“If animals are not treated promptly it could lead to an underlying level of pathogen which could mean that the animal was no longer fit for human consumption.” . . .

The directive states that: “it is a general requirement…for production of all organic livestock that (herbal) and homeopathic products… shall be used in preference to chemically-synthesised allopathic veterinary treatment or antibiotics.”  . .

The Department for Food and Rural Affairs admitted that organic farmers were bound by the new regulations but said they could resort to other means, such as antibiotics, without losing their ‘organic’ status if homeopathic remedies proved to be ineffective.  . .

But what about the suffering of the animals while they wait for treatment that will work?

Vets in Norway have also called on their country’s Food Standards Agency to delay fully implementing the directive in protest at the “ridiculous” guidelines.

“We think it’s totally unacceptable from a scientific point of view because there’s no scientific basis for using homeopathy,” Ellef Blakstad, scientific director of the Norwegian Veterinary Association, adding that the move was “scientifically illiterate”.

“If you start using homeopathy, you prolong the time when the animals are not getting adequate treatment and that’s a threat to animal welfare.” . .

Antibiotics should not be used indiscriminately but no good farmer or vet should let animals suffer for bureaucracy when there’s a scientifically proven way to treat the problem.

A friend who was overseeing an organic farm received a call from the manager telling him sheep were dying in large numbers.

The overseer took one look at the stock and told the manager to drench them.

The farm lost its organic status but the stock survived and thrived.

Hat tip: Tim Worstall


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