Rural round-up

06/08/2015

Red meat on the brink of greatness:

New ANZ research has underlined the huge performance potential of the red meat industry, but also identified significant barriers that need to be overcome if it is to once again be a driving force in the New Zealand economy.

The annual ANZ Privately Owned Business Barometer survey found the top performing farmers were achieving returns on investment that outshone almost any other producers in New Zealand. However, a larger number of farms were achieving more modest returns and comparatively flat growth. . .

 Fatter, less flatulent cows good for planet and for farmers –   Olivia Wannan:

New feeds that make cows less flatulent are a discovery that could truly save the world.

The methane produced in the stomachs of ruminant animals including cows, sheep and deer is a powerful greenhouse gas. In New Zealand, agriculture comprises nearly half of our rising gas emissions.

A global search is on to find ways to reduce the amount of methane produced by farm stock, and a Kiwi researcher is part of the team behind what may be the first solution.

Research co-authored by Matthew Deighton, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal last week, found a new stock feed additive, NOP, cuts the methane produced by cows by almost a third. . .

Increased reports concerning farm animal welfare:

More people are reporting concerns about the welfare of farm animals, official data shows, particularly on lifestyle blocks.

The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) received 2947 complaints about farm animal welfare between 2010 and 2014 – with a high of 698 complaints last year.

Commercial farms accounted for 1852 of the complaints, while lifestyle blocks accounted for 785 complaints – who were overrepresented in the figures, according to MPI. . .

Production drop forecast as farmers look to manage costs:

Analysis undertaken by the DairyNZ Economics Group is pointing to at least a two to three percent drop in New Zealand’s milk production this season as farmers tighten the focus on improving the efficiency of their farming systems.

DairyNZ senior economist Matthew Newman says the official Ministry for Primary Industries cull cow figures show that farmers reduced cow numbers earlier than normal last season. “This looks likely to continue this season in response to low milk prices,” he says. . .

Alpaca farm is the stuff of dreams – Emily Norman:

The Alpaca Place is a humble, scenic farm along Rangitumau Road that has not only captured the hearts of its owners, but has also captured hearts around the world, making it the number two attraction on TripAdvisor in Masterton and Wairarapa.

Owners Cheryl Hughson and Liz Barnes are two sisters that left their nine-to-five jobs in office work to fulfil their dreams of owning an alpaca farm.

The sisters, who live by the advice of their late father, have gone from establishing an alpaca farm with two alpacas in 2001, to running what is now a guided tourist attraction of everything alpaca. . .

 Canterbury-born veterinarian Cheryl McMeekan leaves legacy of rescued animals  – Brittany Mann:

Cheryl McMeekan had a gift with animals. She cared for every one she found and her beneficence is living on, despite her death.

McMeekan, a highly-regarded veterinarian, died in a suspected suicide on June 8 in her adopted home of Lantau Island in Hong Kong. She was 43 years old.

The “cattle whisperer”, originally from Canterbury, moved to the island 11 years ago. She was the only vet in the rural village of Mui Wo, where she managed an SPCA clinic.

The South China Morning Post reported flowers had been left for McMeekan outside the clinic, in tribute. . .

Air passengers to face new biosecurity controls:

New biosecurity measures will be introduced by the Ministry for Primary Industries to make it tougher for air passengers to bring goods into New Zealand that could carry pests or diseases.

The measures are the result of new biosecurity funding from the government’s 2015 budget.

Expected to be in place by December for the busy summer season, the measures include the introduction of 20 more biosecurity detector dog teams, more x-raying of baggage and more targeting of passengers likely to be carrying risk goods.

One of the plans is to use detector dogs to screen passengers much earlier than before in the arrival process for international passengers, says Steve Gilbert, MPI Border Clearance Services Director. . .

 Tougher biosecurity measures at airports welcomed:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed a new package of biosecurity measures to be implemented at international airports, including more detector dogs and new x-ray machines, as a result of $27 million in new funding in Budget 2015.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has announced today that by December there will be:

  • 20 new biosecurity detector dog teams
  • Five new x-ray machines
  • Trialling a mobile x-ray machine that can shifted to different sites
  • Introducing new communications to target passengers more likely to carry Queensland fruit fly host materials. . .

 


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