Still too much capacity?

January 21, 2015

Meat plants in the South Island and parts of the North Island are running at full stretch to cope with stock coming off farms which are running short of feed.

This  is inconvenient for those wanting to restructure the meat industry who argue that there is over capacity in killing space.

What would happen to the stock that farmers are selling now if there was less capacity?

Holding stock would put its health at risk unless farmers could buy supplementary feed and that could be too expensive for many.

How much killing space is enough?

There are strong arguments on the grounds of animal welfare to ensure that meat works can cope with surges of stock during prolonged dry spells which means there will be surplus capacity when the weather puts less pressure on feed.

 


NZ tops animal protection index

December 1, 2014

New Zealand has another first place to celebrate:

The Animal Protection Index, which ranks 50 countries across the world on their animal welfare standards, places New Zealand (along with the United Kingdom, Austria and Switzerland)in first place.

The Index is a breakthrough project by global charity, World Animal Protection, with the aim of improving the welfare of animals through policy and attitudinal change; and ultimately through enhanced legal protection.

Bridget Vercoe, Country Director at World Animal Protection in New Zealand, says:

“It is extremely pleasing to see New Zealand ranked up there with the highest index score. This is something we can all be very proud of.”

“Whilst this is great news for New Zealand, there are still improvements to be made in animal welfare. The Animal Welfare Act, which is currently under review, is a good example of how New Zealand is continuing to make positive change for animals. To stay at number one, it is vital we keep progressing in matters of animal welfare.”

“World Animal Protection looks forward to working with the Government to ensure New Zealand maintains its leadership position.”

For The Animal Protection Index countries were ranked according to a number of indicators.These indicators include:

The recognition of animal sentience (animals can feel pain and suffer); the presence of effective governance structures; implementation of animal protection policy; legislation and standards; provision of humane education and promotion of effective communication and awareness. Animals used in farming; animals in captivity; companion animals (pets); animals used for draught or recreational purposes; animals used in scientific research and wild animals are each considered separately.

The ranking is to be celebrated but should not be seen as cause for complacency.

Animal welfare is important everywhere on moral grounds. In New Zealand it is also economically important because of our dependence on exports of primary production especially produce from the sheep, beef, dairy, deer and fishing sectors.

The full report is here.

 


Rural round-up

November 28, 2014

Martinborough winemaker receives conservation award:

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry has presented Clive Paton of Martinborough with the 2014 Loder Cup at a ceremony today, for his significant contribution to habitat restoration in New Zealand.

“Clive Paton is a remarkable individual and very deserving of being this year’s Loder Cup recipient. He is an inspirational example of somebody with drive, energy and a vision, who has woven conservation into his life,” says Ms Barry.

The Loder Cup is awarded and presented by the Minister of Conservation annually for outstanding achievements in flora conservation work.

Clive Paton ONZM is a respected conservationist and winemaker. Founder and co-owner of the Ata Rangi vineyard in Martinborough, he is a long-time supporter of “Project Crimson”, which restores New Zealand’s rata and pohutukawa trees. . .

 

Funding success will boost dairy environmental actions

A proven method of working with farmers to improve their environmental performance will be expanded and two new projects will start thanks to funding partnerships between dairy farmers and the Waikato River Authority.

Around $1.3 million of funding from the Waikato River Authority is being matched with $1.3 million from dairy farmers, funded through the levy they pay their industry body DairyNZ, to get the three environmental projects underway. . .

China’s crackdown on polluting tanneries, Russia sanctions drive record slump in lambskin prices – Tina Morrison:

Global lambskin prices have collapsed from the first quarter’s record highs, as a Chinese crackdown on polluting tanneries and Russian trade sanctions sapped demand.

The price for third-grade lambskins, a benchmark for leather garments, has fallen below US$50 per dozen from a record high of US$95/dozen in the first quarter of this year, according to Invercargill-based Alliance Group, the world’s largest processor and exporter of sheepmeat. The skins are currently fetching about US$45-$50/dozen with the price expected to decline to US$40-$45/dozen, the farmer cooperative said. Prices generally fluctuate between US$50-$70/dozen. . .

 

The Meat Workers Union has today urged the Select Committee hearing submissions on the Health & Safety Reform bill to strengthen provisions that protect the rights of workers to be involved and speak out, saying that it’s becoming increasingly unsafe to raise health and safety concerns in some companies.

In its submission to the committee, the union said the industry is one of New Zealand’s most dangerous, with a history of high injury rates and disease.

“In just the past few months, we’ve seen a worker with a hook through his scalp, another with a serious cut to his arm being left for three hours trying to find someone to take him to hospital and another group of workers exposed to fumigation chemicals” says Graham Cooke, National Secretary. . .

 

The Ministry for Primary Industries did not have sufficient evidence to lay charges following two animal welfare investigations into incidents at piggeries earlier this year.

The investigations involved incidents at piggeries in Christchurch and Kumeu. Both involved video footage gathered by a third party.

MPI Director Compliance Dean Baigent said in both cases there was insufficient evidence to prove offences. . .

Third time’s a charm for Young Auctioneer:

PGG Wrightson auctioneer, Cam Bray proved that persistence pays off when he won the Heartland Bank Young Auctioneers Competition held during the Canterbury A&P Show recently.

Eight auctioneers from throughout the country competed in the third year of the Competition, and Cam was pleased to take out the win after competing in all three years.

“It meant a lot to me to win the competition. Auctioneering is a big passion of mine and I hope the win leads to more opportunities.” . .

Selaks Celebrates 80 Year Heritage:

New ‘halo tier’ range of Founders wines launched

Respect for the brand’s creators and a celebration of its heritage are at the heart of the re-launch this month of a limited release range of Selaks Founders wines.

Re-introduced to commemorate the celebrated brand’s 80th anniversary, Selaks Founders Wines are a rare treat only previously produced in recognition of Mate Selak’s passing in 1991. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

September 7, 2014

Possum purge dents TB rate – Tim Cronshaw:

Possum control operations are making inroads into the most inhospitable bush and swamps in the challenging upper South Island area to protect cattle and deer herds from bovine tuberculosis (TB).

Of the 68 herds infected with TB nationally, 44 are in the West Coast, Tasman, Marlborough and Canterbury north of the Rangitata River. Southland, Otago and Canterbury south of the Rangitata have 15 infected herds and nine remain in the North Island.

They have been reduced from 1700 several decades ago as a result of work by TBfree New Zealand. . .

Gourmet fungi could boost farmers’ incomes – Tim Cronshaw:

Farmers with tree plots, and other foresters, could add a side business to their main income after research in high-value edible crops has come out with promising results.

Plant & Food Research’s Alexis Guerin and Associate Professor Wang Yun have been investigating the delicacies of saffron milk cap mushrooms and bianchetto truffle on farm sites in Lincoln.

The scientists believe there is room to commercialise the crops on forest blocks, although much research remains in its infancy.

Truffles sell for about $3000 a kilogram, while the saffron milk cap mushroom usually sells for $30 to $50/kg and double that in upmarket European stores. . .

US now top market for NZ chilled venison – Tim Cronshaw:

The United States has toppled Germany as the go-to market for New Zealand chilled-venison exports.

Deer farmers should be in good spirits, as venison prices are slightly ahead of last year’s and until lately exports to the US were sluggish as the global financial crisis continued to dent sales.

Deer Industry New Zealand venison marketing services manager Innes Moffat said a strong economic recovery in the US had encouraged more chilled venison sales.

“There has been a big increase in chilled venison cuts to the US in the last year compared to the year before. The US is now New Zealand’s largest market for chilled venison and over the last year it has overtaken Germany.” . . .

NZ urged to boost value of dairy goodse of dairy goods - Andrea Fox:

New Zealand can no longer wait for world dairy markets to wash over it and now is the time to be aggressive to create new profitability opportunities and focus on lifting productivity, the NZ Institute of Economic Research says.

While dismaying to dairy farmers who had enjoyed record high global commodity prices, the steep fall in global dairy prices this year was a sign of world markets getting in balance, NZIER principal economist Shamubeel Eaqub said.

“For a whole bunch of reasons all of a sudden the markets have gone from finely balanced in favour of dairy producers to very much out of favour. 

“We went through a really sweet spot, where the global production side was trying to catch up with a demand that somehow caught us by surprise. . .

Farming ‘breakthrough’ overlooked – Neil Lyon:

THE low adoption of Controlled Traffic Farming (CTF) practices throughout Australian broadacre farming areas has soil scientists baffled as to why more farmers haven’t tapped into its many advantages.

By confining weight-bearing machinery wheels to permanent tracks across a paddock, CTF effectively limits soil compaction to about 15 per cent of the paddock and leaves the remaining soil to regenerate and lift crop yield potential.

Despite the system being heralded as a breakthrough for farming nearly two decades ago, a recent survey of eastern Australian grain farmers found that only 13pc were using three-metre CTF, 21pc were using a combination of two-metre and three-metre CTF, and 66pc were using none at all. . . .

Shear adventure – Mark Griggs:

THE adventures of our forebears often intrigues and that is certainly the case for Stuart Town woolgrower, Laurie Pope.

Laurie has long been fascintated by the stories surrounding the journeys made by his grandfather, Michael John Pope, or Mick to family and friends, by bike while he was shearing in western NSW and Queensland during the late 1800s.

The dust is well settled and much now covered by bitumen, but Laurie has always held the desire to retrace his grandfather’s bicycle tracks, so last February, accompanied by neighbour Cliff Hyde, he set out by vehicle to cover the 2077 kilometre round journey from the family property, “Weemala”, Stuart Town, to Eulo, Qld, but was interrupted by rain halfway through at Thurloo Downs Station, Wanaaring. . .

 

Farmers urged to consult their vets as Theileria cases rise:

The New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) is encouraging farmers to consult their vet about suspected cases of Theileria on their farms, and how to best manage Theileria, as the latest data from the Ministry of Primary Industries shows an increase this season in the number of cattle infected with the disease. Naïve cattle that have been moved into affected areas are particularly at risk.

Theileria, which causes anaemia in cows and is spread by ticks, affects cattle and is not a human or food safety issue. Signs of Theileria include lethargy, low appetite and reduced milk production.

Dr Jenny Weston, President of the NZVA Society of Dairy Cattle Veterinarians, says that vets play a key role in working collaboratively with farmers to provide advice, taking both a preventive and proactive approach to minimise the disease. . . .

 


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. . .

 


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