Paddock rules help in parliament?

October 10, 2012

RadioNZ National’s Country Life programme profiled Speaker Dr Lockwood Smith.

It shows him as a farmer rather than a politician, explains his preference for wearing stubbies and includes this insight into safety with bulls:

I never, even bulls that  I’ve known all their lives, that I’ve had at shows, I never take my eye off them. I never turn my back on them, I’m always, always watching them. . . .

Could this rule from the paddock be what helps him keep control in parliament?


Their land, our water

January 28, 2010

The paddocks on the side of the road between Tarras and the bridge over the Clutha near Luggate used to be dry and barren for most of the year.

Some of them still are, but others are green and productive, thanks to irrigation.

Which looks better is a matter of opinion but I prefer the green and admire the increased productivity farmers are getting from it.

Some of the irrigated farmland which would have struggled to support a few sheep is now able to feed bulls. These bulls no doubt have the same sort of outputs as dairy cows, but there is a major difference between the Upper Clutha farms and the dairy operations proposed for the Mackenzie Basin and that’s scale.

The bulls grazing paddocks beside the Tarras-Luggate road number in the low 10s. The Mackenzie dairy proposals are for nearly 18,000 cows.

In announcing that he’s calling in the consents for these big operations, Environment Minister Nick Smith said that stock will produce effluent similar to the amount produced by a city of 250,000 people.

That’s an awful lot of waste and helps explains why Environment Canterbury received around 5,000 submissions on the applications for resource consent.

Some were about animal welfare which do not come under the Resource Management Act and I’d be very surprised if any of the concerns were valid. Keeping cattle indoors may not be the way we’re used to farming here but it doesn’t by itself constitute any welfare issues.

Some were about what irrigation and dairying would do to the views. That is entirely subjective, what some regard as beautiful productive paddocks, others will see as blots on the landscape.

Although, it’s not just about how the landscape looks but what’s happening to it. Those travelling through at 100 kilometres an hour don’t appreciate the environmental damage that unrelenting heat and wind can do.

In the January 2-8 Listener, Simon Williamson of Glenbrook Station, was asked about the cost to the landscape of irrigation. He replied:

“I don’t see how it detracts. A green foreground and brown hills. Before it would have been a brown foreground and a dust storm.” *

Many of the other submissions were on the potential threat to water quality and these  submitters are on stronger ground.

Housing the cows as is proposed in the applications allows the farms to have much more control on the dispersal of effluent than if the stock was grazing pasture. But systems are only as good as the people who operate them and can never be fool-proof.

Besides, whether inside or out, these cattle will produce a lot of effluent. The Minster’s appointees will have to be satisfied that there is no danger to water quality from it and that may be very difficult to guarantee.

It is the applicants’ land but their right to do what they will with it doesn’t extend to polluting our water.

* The Williamson quote isn’t online, but the rest of the feature from which it came, Mainland dust-up, is on line and well worth a read.

Update: Federated Farmers media release on the calling in is here.


The bull still has a place

December 10, 2009

I wouldn’t normally presume to advise either Cactus Kate or Roarprawn on anything to do with sex but I’m entering the debate between them this time because the sex is of the bovine variety.

In a post supporting the proposed dairy operation in the Mackenzie Basin Cactus Kate wrote:

Their whole purpose is to be impregnated by a bull who engages in random group sexual acts with the entire herd in a fashion only an NRL team could understand.

Roarprawn responded with a great cartoon and said:

She also misses on one critical point and stunningly its about sex and cows or sex with cows and bulls.
There is no one time coupling with a rampant bull – nope.The closest a cow gets to the bovine hanky panky is a brief encounter with a sterile straw of semen. The poor cows don’t even get to have a bit of natural nooky.

Both are only half right.

Dairy farms use artificial insemination but not all cows conceive that way and those which don’t get to play with the bulls.

Most of the AI semen is usually from dairy breeds like Jerseys or Friesians and the heifer calves which are produced will be kept as replacements for older cows.

The bulls are usually beef breeds and the offspring sold as bobby calves or, if like us you have beef cattle too, they’re kept and raised for the meat market.


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