Rural round-up

October 8, 2015

Key sectors welcome TPP – Colin Bettles:

SUGAR may have been served a bitter-sweet outcome in the final Trans-Pacific Partnership but other key Australian commodities like beef, grains, dairy and cotton have tasted some success.

The Cattle Council of Australia (CCA) said the TPP deal – signed overnight by Federal Trade Minister Andrew Robb – would provide significant increased market opportunities for Australian grassfed beef producers, when it comes into force.

Game changer for beef

CCA president Howard Smith said the agreement signifies a game changing opportunity for the Australian beef industry which sees a positive future fort itself, in export markets. . . 

Rolleston wants GM use debate – Richard Rennie:

Councils’ efforts to ban genetically modified crops have Federated Farmers banging up against public opinion in some rural districts.

But federation president Dr William Rolleston argues the move to ban GM crops threatens farmers’ ability to innovate and is a choice they might lose through misinformation and misunderstandings about what the science is really about.

The federation’s case against council bans on GM use got a severe bruising when they lost on appeal to the Environment Court earlier this year. . . 

Milk price expected to hit $3000/t this year – Jemma Brackebush:

Banks and analysts are predicting international dairy prices will continue to rise, and a lift in Fonterra’s forecast payout looks likely.

Prices in the global dairy trade auction rose for the fourth consecutive time on Tuesday night.

The price for the key commodity, whole milk powder, which underpins the price Fonterra pays its farmers, increased by 12.9 percent to $US2,824 a tonne. . . 

Record jail sentence for animal abuser Michael Whitelock:

A dairy worker has been handed what is believed to be New Zealand’s longest-ever prison sentence for animal cruelty, after cows were beaten, had their tails broken and were shot in the kneecaps on a farm he managed.

Michael James Whitelock was sentenced in the Greymouth District Court on Wednesday to four and a half years jail and banned from owning animals for 10 years.

He had earlier pleaded guilty to 12 charges, including ill treatment of animals, unlawful possession of firearms and attempting to pervert the course of justice. . . 

Farmer suicides up – Jemma Brackebush:

Figures from the Ministry of Justice show 27 men in farming communities committed suicide in the past year ended June.

The chief coroner Deborah Marshall released annual provisional suicide statistics on Tuesday, which showed 564 people died by suicide in the past year, up 35 on the previous year and the highest number since records began eight years ago.

Male suicides rose from 385 last year to 428, and female suicides dropped from 144 to 136. . . 

Banks fork out a total $25.5M over rural interest rate swaps – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – The Commerce Commission has completed the distribution of $25.5 million to complainants and rural charities after reaching settlements with banks who had marketed interest rate swap products to farmers.

The commission says nearly $20 million in cash has been paid to eligible customers while $1.9 million was offset by the banks against debts some complainants owed to them. A further $2.5 million went to 14 regional Rural Support Trusts and the Dairy Women’s Network and the commission received $1 million to cover a portion of its investigation costs, including legal expenses. The bulk of the money came from the ANZ Bank New Zealand, which paid out $19.3 million in total, $3.2 million from ASB Bank and $3 million from Westpac Banking Corp. . . .

All Geared Up For The Glammies:

Entries are now open for the 2016 Golden Lamb Awards, aka the Glammies, which seeks out the tastiest and tender lamb in New Zealand.

The competition gives farmers the opportunity to enter their lamb into one of the most highly regarded competitions the industry has to offer.

The entries are then assessed by Carne Technologies in Cambridge for tenderness, yield, succulence and colour.

The scientific testing determines which top four entries from five categories will make it through to the final stage of the competition, a taste test, held at the Upper Clutha A&P show in Wanaka on 11 March 2016. . . 

New Zealand Bloodstock to Sponsor New Race in China:

New Zealand Bloodstock and the Inner Mongolia Rider Horse Industry Co. Ltd have partnered together to introduce the New Zealand Bloodstock Cup to be held in Inner Mongolia, China next year.

2015 RTR
The race is open to horses purchased by any Chinese buyer at this year’s New Zealand Bloodstock Ready to Run Sale in November. To be held in July 2016 at Korchin, Inner Mongolia, the New Zealand Bloodstock Cup is worth RMB500,000 and will be run over 1800m.

NZB’s Co-Managing Director Andrew Seabrook is excited about the formal partnership reached between NZB and Rider Horse Group. . . 

Serious savings from whole-farm soil testing:

Whole-farm soil testing saves Taranaki farmer Hayden Lawrence about $15,000 on fertiliser each year.

Hayden, who farms in equity partnership with his wife Alecia and parents in Taranaki, began whole-farm soil testing seven years ago. To date, he has reaped about $90,000 in savings and has increased pasture production from 14.5 tonnes per hectare to 18.6T/ha on the 97ha property.

The Lawrences milk a maximum of 240 cows on an 85ha milking platform, using their hill country block to graze heifers. They also follow an 18-month cropping rotation, that sees paddocks planted into silage, oats, chicory and then into pasture. . . .

RHĀNZ welcomes Government’s new rural connectivity target:

The Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand welcomes the new rural connectivity target announced by the Government today.

The target means nearly all rural New Zealanders will be able to access broadband speeds of at least 50Mbps by 2025.

RHĀNZ Chairperson, Dr Jo Scott-Jones, says securing reliable and affordable telecommunications services is critical to the health and wellbeing of rural communities and is a top priority for all 40 RHĀNZ members.

“As part of our RBI phase 2 submission to Government earlier this year, we called for more ambitious targets for rural broadband speeds, so it is really pleasing to hear Minister Adams’s announcement today,” he says. . . 

Anglers urged to vote ‘in best interests of our fishing and hunting resources’:

The country’s anglers and game bird hunters are being reminded to make sure they vote in the Fish and Game Council elections.

Fish & Game Communications Manager Don Rood says that because voting closes at 5pm on Friday (9 October), those who are eligible and haven’t voted are advised to do so online, rather put voting papers in the post.

“We urge licenceholders to take the time to vote – to exercise their right to choose the people who can best advance their local region’s hunting and fishing interests. . . 

Free entry for 2016 Games:

The second annual Hilux New Zealand Rural Games takes place in Queenstown next Waitangi weekend (Sat 6th – Sun 7th Feb) and entry won’t cost you a cent.

Two days of ‘sports that built the nation’ and live entertainment on the Recreation Ground plus the Running of the Wools – more than 400 merino sheep herding through downtown Queenstown – will be completely free to watch.

We’ve been able to waive ticket prices thanks to the generous support of our patrons and event partners including major sponsors Toyota, Fonterra, Line 7, Ngai Tahu Farming, Jetstar and Husqvarna which has increased its support from the inaugural Games.

The Running of the Wools is once again supported by our friends at clothing and gift retailer, Global Culture. . . 

Rural round-up

July 6, 2015

Matt Bell wins 2015 ANZ Young Farmer Contest

After a nail-biting finish Matt Bell of Aorangi is the 2015 ANZ Young Farmer Contest Champion.

“This is the most surreal feeling, all the hard work has paid off. The blood, sweat and tears – it was all worth it! It’s somewhat of a dream at the moment” said Mr Bell.

Competition in the 47th ANZ Young Farmer Contest was fierce, with the Evening Show rounds resulting in a tie between East Coast’s Sully Alsop and Aorangi’s Matt Bell. Matt Bell won on a count-back of Practical Day scores. . . .

Young farmers ‘shattered’ after tough contest – Daniel Hutchinson:

The best young farmers in the land flocked to Taupo for a showdown as the town hosted the grand final of the Young Farmer Contest on Saturday.

Animal instincts and rat cunning were on display as the seven contestants battled it out with fencing duels (wire fences), shearing feats and even a speech contest during the three-day competition.

After a nail-biting finish on Saturday night, Matt Bell of Aorangi was declared the 2015 champion. . .

Plans to invest up to $30m goat plant:

A goats’ milk company has announced plans to invest up to $30 million to build processing and packaging facilities in Hawke’s Bay.

Fresco Nutrition’s managing director Greg Wycherley said there was growing demand for infant formula that came from goats and sheep milk, particularly in Asia.

He said Hawke’s Bay was the ideal place to produce and process the product. . .

Speech to Federated Farmers 2015 Annual Conference – Nathan Guy:

Good morning and thank you all for the opportunity to speak to your annual conference here this morning.

I would like to begin by acknowledging your President, Dr William Rolleston; Chief Executive, Graham Smith; members of your National Board; and all other members here today.

My congratulations go to Dr Rolleston who has just been elected as the Vice-President of the World Farmers Organisation.

I met with newly elected WFO President Evelyn Nguleka and Executive Director Marco Marzano in Europe recently.

As an organization “of farmers, for farmers” the main focus of the WFO is to represent the interests of its hugely diverse constituency in international forums where they are often the only voice for farmers. . .

 Low flyer wins top prize at NZ aviation awards:

The business is usually flying close to the ground. But this week, top dressing firm Ravensdown Aerowork was the high flyer when it took out the prestigious ServiceIQ Award for Excellence in Training at the Aviation Industry Association Awards in Queenstown.

ServiceIQ Sector Advisor Gary Scrafton, says the Wanganui-based aviation firm places a strong emphasis on its people, ensuring that they have the skills they need to do both a great job in the air, and to provide customers with top-class service. . .


Further boost for New Zealand Cycle Trail:

The Government is investing nearly $400,000 in six new projects to enhance and maintain the quality of the New Zealand Cycle Trail, Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism John Key announced today. 

“This is the second round of funding available through the Maintaining the Quality of Great Rides Fund and brings the total investment under the fund so far to $1.36 million,” says Mr Key.

“Priority has been given to proposals that aim to improve the safety and quality of the Great Rides – the premier rides on the New Zealand Cycle Trail. Three of the successful applications are for repairs to sections of trail that have incurred storm damage. . .

NZ blackcurrants improve mental agility

Researchers say New Zealand blackcurrants can keep people mentally young and agile, and aid in managing the effects of depression and Parkinson’s disease.

A study conducted by scientists at New Zealand’s Plant & Food Research, in collaboration with Britain’s Northumbria University, showed the compounds found in New Zealand blackcurrants increased accuracy, attention and mood.

The research also found juice from a specific New Zealand blackcurrant cultivar, Blackadder, reduced the activity of the enzymes which regulate serotonin and dopamine concentrations in the brain. . .

Seafood industry supports efforts to save Auckland Islands’ sea lions:

The seafood industry actively supports measures to conserve the Auckland Islands sea lion, Seafood New Zealand Chairman George Clement says.

His comments follow the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) upgrading the sea lions’ status from vulnerable to endangered.

“The decline in the sea lion population at the Auckland Islands has been a cause of concern for some time, although other populations are increasing. . .

Winter Mixed Bloodstock Sale Catalogue Out Now:

The catalogue for New Zealand Bloodstock’s Winter Mixed Bloodstock Sale are due in letterboxes early next week and can be viewed online now.

There are 73 horses catalogued, consisting of broodmares (40), weanlings (6), yearlings (4), two-year-old’s (9), unraced stock (2), racehorses (11) and stallion shares (1).

A range of sires will be on offer at NZB’s Winter Mixed Bloodstock Sale with 53 sires represented, including the progeny of leading sires from New Zealand and Australia, Savabeel and Fastnet Rock. . .


Rural round-up

May 1, 2015


2015 Employee Remuneration survey shows farming salaries holding firm in spite of tough conditions:

Federated Farmers and Rabobank’s 2015 employee remuneration report shows farm employee remuneration is rising despite tough industry conditions.

Salaries across the industry groups generally were equal at entry level, though some dairy farming employees, such as dairy farm managers, had higher salaries compared with their sheep and beef counterparts.

Federated Farmers Dairy Industry Group Chair, Andrew Hoggard, said it had been a fairly unfavourable year for farming all round, especially in the dairy industry, with returns down 40 per cent. . .

 Farmers back a pioneering environmental restoration project:

Hawke’s Bay farmers are getting in behind a New Zealand first environmental restoration project, which has just been launched in Napier.

The Cape to City project is a world-leading programme, which will aim to achieve a predator free Hawke’s Bay. It will focus on ultra low-cost, large-scale predator control across 26,000 ha of farmland between Waimarama and Havelock North with the aim to restore native species and plants and add value for farm businesses.

The project represents a significant investment over five years for both Cape to City, and sister project Poutiri Ao ō Tāne, of more than $6 million and is a collaborative partnership between Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, the Department of Conservation, Landcare Research, Cape Sanctuary and the Aotearoa Foundation as well as private business and other Crown Research Institutes. . .

Sustainable textile company The Formary to represent New Zealand at the World Exposition 2015:

Launching world–first Mibu® yarn blended from wool and rice straw.

“Transforming industrial and agricultural waste into beautiful fabrics” is the mantra of New Zealand company The Formary.

Back in 2010, they made global headlines when they collaborated with Starbucks and developed WoJo®, an award–winning fabric combining New Zealand wool with coffee sack waste fibre.

On May 1st they launch their latest innovation, Mibu yarn, on the biggest stage on the planet: the World Exposition 2015 in Milan. . .

Timaru farmers claims barley world record for New Zealand:

The Exclusive Grain Group has confirmed Timaru farmers Warren and Joy Darling are now the Guinness World Records® (GWR) holders for the highest barley yield. The world record attempt took place on Friday 23 January 2015 and was ratified by GWR on Wednesday 15 April 2015 with a yield of 13.8 metric tonnes per hectare with the Blackman Agriculture bred variety 776.

With the barley world record unbroken for 25 years, the three month verification wait from GWR was long and stressful. “There was absolutely no doubt that we had achieved the 13.8 metric tonnes of yield and we had followed the GWR protocol independently assessed by SGS here in New Zealand,” said Warren Darling. “It was like being back in school knowing you had done really well on a test but until you receive the final mark, it is an anxious time,”
he commented. . .





Smart ties with India:

Lincoln University has strengthened its ties with business in India after signing Memoranda of Understanding with ETI Dynamics and JCurve Ventures which emphasise the development ‘smart cities’.

The agreements come after a recent visit by an Indian trade delegation to the University, which was hosted by Vice-Chancellor Dr Andrew West, Deputy Vice-Chancellor International and Business Development Jeremy Baker, and Peter Barrowclough, Chief Executive Officer of Lincoln Agritech Ltd, a 100 per cent owned subsidiary of Lincoln University. . .

Find Your Next Success at NZB’s Upcoming Sale:

A prosperous season among New Zealand’s juvenile ranks has brought New Zealand Bloodstock’s National Weanling, Broodmare & Mixed Bloodstock to the fore ready for the next crop of youngsters to be sold at the upcoming Sale in May.

This year’s $1m Karaka Million winner Hardline (NZ (Showcasing) is a star graduate of the 2013 National Weanling Sale. Purchased by Hallmark Stud for $43,000 from Haunui Stud’s draft, Hardline returned at the 2014 Karaka Select Sale where Australian trainer Liam Birchley secured him for $130,000. . .


Rural round-up

July 2, 2014

Amazing claptrap over wind thrown trees:

Federated Farmers West Coast is staggered by the rhetoric on the Wind Thrown Trees Bill, passed under urgency last night, which allows for the recovery and use of native timber felled in Cyclone Ita.

“Being a Coaster, recycling dead trees into jobs will be good for us all,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers West Coast provincial president. 

“We’ll be able to salvage something from Ita’s natural calamity being jobs if not new businesses.  That’s something Federated Farmers supports.

“Even if some guys come in from outside the Coast, they have to stay somewhere and they have to be fed and watered too.  They will also need to have their equipment serviced so we’re more open-minded.  . .

Meat & Fibre – Climbing to the top:

Speech by Jeanette Maxwell Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre Chairperson, to Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre Council at Federated Farmers AGM, Palmerston North

It is my pleasure to welcome you here to my last Meat & Fibre AGM as your chair.

Since our last AGM, in Ashburton last year, there has been some significant engagement within the industry and amongst our Meat & Fibre Council. . .

Launch of Wool Levy Farmer Consultation:

The Wool Levy Referendum Wool Grower Consultation was officially launched at Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre AGM today, in an effort to add value to the industry.

“Wool should be our first choice, it is the fibre of the future and this referendum’s is the industry’s chance to make a difference to its future,” says Sandra Faulkner, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre Executive and Wool Levy Group Chairperson.

“Sheep is not a one dimensional animal, it is dual purpose but the value of wool is not recognised here or overseas, and as a result we are underselling ourselves in the market. New Zealand is the world’s third largest wool producer supplying 45 percent of the world’s carpet wool. With 30 industry bodies in New Zealand, wool is the only primary sector that isn’t represented. . .

Farmers get into the Port business:

Three years after welcoming the formation of Kotahi, the joint freight logistics of Fonterra Cooperative Group and Silver Fern Farms, Federated Farmers South Canterbury is excited that the Port of Timaru will play a leading role in exporting South Island product to the world.

“Since Kotahi translates as standing together as one Federated Farmers is excited about what this means for South Canterbury’s development as a major South Island’s logistics hub,” says Ivon Hurst, Federated Farmers South Canterbury provincial president.

“News that Kotahi is to hub out of Timaru is great. News that Kotahi has taken a half-share in the Port of Tauranga owned container terminal operating assets at PrimePort is fantastic. . .

Top Chefs Do Amazing Things with Vegetables

The winners of the New Zealand Vegetarian Dish Challenge 2014, a national competition celebrating the very best of fresh New Zealand vegetables were announced today.

Auckland’s The Riverhead’s demi-chef, Subhashini Sathanantham won the Breakfast category with her inspired dish of golden kumara and red beetroot tart, quail eggs, cauliflower sausage, potato toast, garlic-infused vine tomatoes, buttered spinach and pumpkin hollandaise.

Subhashini said that the win had given her a huge step up in her career and she was thrilled her passion for vegetables had caught the judges’ attention. . .

Seed Company Gains Organic Certification:

A Bay of Plenty business has just become New Zealand’s Largest Organically Certified Mail Order Seed Company. Kings Seeds have always lead the way when it comes to supplying gardeners the best range of seeds online and via their popular catalogue. After an extensive certification process overseen by BioGro NZ, the Kings Seeds team is proud to announce their status as having New Zealand’s largest range of Organically Certified seed.

Gerard Martin, Owner, Kings Seeds, says; “We’ve only ever supplied internationally certified organic seeds so it just made sense to formalise this by applying for New Zealand accreditation. For us, it reinforces our commitment to provide New Zealand gardeners with the most extensive range of organic seeds. A big thanks to the BioGro NZ team who did a thorough job of scrutinizing our business to ensure that we met their strict criteria. We’re extremely proud to have come through the process with flying colours.” . . .

Anglers appalled at Labour’s recreational fishing ideas:

Anglers are appalled at the policy and ideas being advocated by Labour’s candidate for Kaikoura, Janette Walker, and the support she has gained from Gareth Morgan, the Green benefactor who has ideas of aerially poisoning Stewart Island with 1080 and caging the family cat.

Alan Simmons, Outdoors spokeperson for United Future and an active angler was gob smacked when he read of her ideas presented to a meeting of Marlborough Recreational Fishers last week and then championed by Gareth Morgan as politician of the week.

Labour’s Ideas of licensing and charging all anglers and using the funds to buy quota from the commercial fishing industry will infuriate recreational anglers.  Furthermore Janette Walker and Labour are talking about reducing recreational catches as commercial demand increases forcing anglers to buy back their rights to their fish. . . .

Winter Mixed Bloodstock Sale Catalogue Available Now:

Catalogues for New Zealand Bloodstock’s Winter Mixed Bloodstock Sale on Friday 1 August are in the post and available to be viewed online now.

A selection of 97 broodmares account for the majority of this year’s catalogue which also features five yearlings, six two-year-olds, seven unraced stock and 14 racehorses.

Prolific broodmare sire Zabeel has three mares featuring in the Sale, the recently retired Cambridge Stud stalwart is the dam sire of 24 Group 1 winners to date. Also with three mares in the Sale is fellow super sire Danehill, the dam sire of 51 Group 1 winners worldwide. . . .

Rural round-up

February 4, 2014

Risk in having all eggs in Fonterra basket:

Government analysis has pointed to weaknesses in the dairy industry, including putting all our eggs in the Fonterra basket.

A five-year Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment project looking at the state of New Zealand’s food and beverage industry found growing strengths for our exports beyond dairy but also sounded a warning about our continued reliance on dairy.

According to the report, New Zealand is the ninth largest milk-producing country in the world and accounts for 2.4 percent of global milk production. Fonterra controls 88 percent of our milk supply and is the fourth-largest dairy company in the world by turnover and first by milk intake. . .

Grant helps student’s project – Letitia Atkinson:

A former Tauranga Boys’ College student is getting a $5000 scholarship to go towards a Bachelor of Science research project.

Zach McLean, who is currently studying at the University of Waikato, will take on a project that involves investigating genes associated with the genetic network regulating pluripotency in bovine embryos.

Pluripotent cells are able to produce all cell types in the body, and emerge during early pre-implantation development.

Zach will be working alongside Dr Bjorn Oback and the Reproductive Technologies group at AgResearch. . . .

Speed fencing record set:

A new world record has been established in speed fencing.

Bill Brewer and Simon Green erected 30 battens on a nine-wire fence in 11 minutes and 38 seconds at last week’s Grasslandz Agricultural Machinery Expo, at Ereka, in Waikato, to become inaugural world champions in the event.

The Taumarunui fencing contractors also won $1000 in prize money. . .

Honey of a job comes to an end – Sonia Beal:

Don Freeth scooted home for the last time on Friday, after almost 40 years working for Blenheim beekeeping company Bush J & Sons.

Mr Freeth, 73, has clocked up just under 108,000 kilometres on his 1968 Honda 50, most of which had been accumulated riding to and from work every day since he started there in October 1975.

“Sometimes I go in the car if the weather’s a bit crook, but other than that it’s every day,” he said.

Mr Freeth described himself as a “jack of all trades”, helping out with all aspects of the company’s beehive management including inspecting hives, packing honey, and queen-rearing, the method used to raise more queen bees. . .

Record profit for Primary Wool:

PRIMARY WOOL Cooperative’s profit of $1.9m for the 2013 financial year is the largest in the cooperative’s 39-history, says chairman, Bay de Lautour.

An average of two members per week joined the cooperative in 2013, growing to three members per week in the first four months of the 2014 financial year, de Lautour says.

The 2013 profit represents 71c a share and comes from Primary Wool Cooperative’s 50% share of Elders Primary Wool which de Lautour says has gained market share as farmers see the benefits of their wool being handled by an efficient broker and seeing half the profits returned to the 100% farmer owned cooperative. . . .

Timaru beauty declared top cow – Jill Galloway:

A cow from Timaru jazzed things up at last week’s Dairy Event, in Feilding, being named the best bovine beauty on show.

It was the Miss New Zealand of dairy cows at Manfeild Park on Thursday with the country’s best cows and calves all aiming to put their best hoof forward.

The Supreme 2014 All New Zealand Champion, or the top cow award, went to Fairview Dolman Jazz-ET, a 5 -year-old holstein friesian cow, from Timaru.

The judges deemed the South Island stunner “best in show”, topping all other cows in the competition. . . .

Strong Results at Karaka 2014:

New Zealand Bloodstock’s 88th National Yearling Sales Series drew to a close yesterday with increases posted across all key statistics as the hammer fell on the final of 1372 yearlings catalogued over six days of selling.

At the completion of Karaka 2014, the combined statistics across the Premier, Select and Festival Sales show consistent strength throughout the week to record an increased average, clearance and median, with 64 fewer horses sold compared to 2013. . .

Rural round-up

January 27, 2014

Three horses expected to sell for $½m at Karaka:

About 14,00 horses are for sale there this week.

Three horses are tipped to pass the $500,000 mark on Monday at the annual Karaka yearling sales.

About 14,00 horses are for sale there this week.

New Zealand Bloodstock managing director Andrew Seabrook says the price for each animal is expected to average about 70,000 , but three yearlings are likely to sell on Monday afternoon for at least $500,000. . . .

Niche dog food that’s delivered – Sally Rae:

Mighty Mix dog food has come a long way from being whipped up in a high-country kitchen.

A woman’s concern for the health of her working dogs during extreme weather conditions more than 20 years ago led to the development of a business which now sells products throughout New Zealand.

In June last year, Mighty Mix’s head office opened in Oamaru, the home of newly-appointed general manager John Walker, who has spent 35 years in the food manufacturing industry, most recently as site manager for Rainbow Confectionery. . .

It’s late – Milk Maid Marian:

The story of Cliffy Young has just finished on the tele but Wayne is still slogging through his own ultra-marathon at the dairy. It’s 10pm and it’s been a tough day that started at 5am.

As I was rattling the kids around the house in readiness for Nippers this morning, Wayne was having some youngster trouble of his own. A freshly-calved heifer simply sat down on the milking platform behind her neighbour. Now, if you’ve worked in or watched a herringbone dairy in action, you’ll say that doesn’t happen.

It did.

The cows are lined up at right angles to the pit we stand in to position the cups, with their buttocks against a “bum rail” that’s designed to guide them into position for milking and prevent a cow from falling onto a milk maid.

It didn’t. . . .

Bark on vines being trialled:

A DRIVE towards more sustainability has led to a new initiative at Eastland Port’s debarker and Gisborne growers could benefit.

The debarker is a machine which removes the bark from logs at Eastland Port’s log yard on Kaiti Beach Road and has just had a new addition to further break down the bark.

Eastland Debarking operations manager Steve O’Dwyer says there it has been a limited market for the large bark pieces, a by-product of the debarker.

“I thought there would be a market for these fines (smaller pieces of bark that are usually 20mm and under),” says Mr O’Dwyer.

So he set about to do some trials and Gisborne grape grower John Rafferty agreed to test the bark fines on 1.7 hectares of new plants. . .

MicroFarm concept a ‘sandpit’ for cropping:

“WHAT WE have here is like a big sandpit – a place where people can get together to play to try and achieve great outcomes.”

That’s how LandWise’s Dan Bloomer describes the MicroFarm, a 4ha property on the Heretaunga Plains, near Hastings.

“We’ve got paddocks that are big enough to have real toys in so we are doing work on a farm-sized scale. A high percentage of paddocks are headlands but between these we have paddocks just like a real farm,” he told an open day in December. . .

Expression of genetic growth potential underpinned by feed allowance:

Recent research by a group of scientists, Dr Long Cheng , Mr Chris Logan , Professor  Grant Edwards and Dr Huitong Zhou from the Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Lincoln University, is helping to unravel a long-standing puzzle in the farming world.

“Traditional wisdom among farmers is that sheep with the genetic potential to grow faster will be more efficient at converting their feed into weight gain (known as higher feed conversion efficiency) than sheep without this genetic potential,” said Dr Cheng, the lead researcher.

“Work in this field has, however, been restricted by the inability to make accurate measurements of the intake of individual animals.” 

Dr Cheng discovered to his surprise, after analysing the results of measurements taken during the trial, that the expectation that sheep with the potential to grow faster would be more efficient was only true when the sheep were well feed (170 % of maintenance metabolisable energy requirement, in this case). . .

Rural round-up

December 1, 2013

Best little river in New Zealand – Rebecca Fox:

Gradual improvements in water quality in East Otago’s Shag River over nearly a decade have earned it the grand prize in the inaugural 2013 New Zealand River Awards.

”The Shag is the best little river in New Zealand,” Otago Regional Council chairman Stephen Woodhead, said when he accepted the award at a ceremony in Wellington last night.

He said the award was for the river’s community and recognition of the work landowners had done to improve practices on land through which the river flowed. . .

Good things take time:

Federated Farmers is thrilled by the recognition Otago farmers received at the first New Zealand River Awards last night, with two rivers as finalists and the Shag River taking the prize for most improved river in New Zealand. 

“The Shag River has come a long way from 10 years ago, and it is a credit to those farmers who care for and value their river,” says Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers water spokesperson.

“Change is hard for everyone, but once you take the time to get everyone on board you can really make a difference. Changing the result of 30 years of degradation is not a quick fix, there is no instant gratification, so that is why 10 years on from the water management plan’s implementation you are seeing some positive results. . .

Beetle’s prickly appetite could have wider impact– Tony Benny:

Scientists hope a thistle-munching beetle already reducing prickly weed infestations in the south will also lay waste to hard-to-control Californian thistles on North Canterbury hill country farms.

Landcare released European-sourced green thistle beetles – also known as cassida or tortoise beetles – on about 50 farms, mostly in lowland Southland, five years ago.

AgResearch scientists want to find out more about the beetle and see if it can go to work in the hill country of North Canterbury and the North Island.

“We’re starting to see the effects of the beetle, and Southland farmers are thinking that it’s having quite a good effect on the thistle populations there,” said AgResearch scientist Michael Cripps. “Basically, they’re seeing observational evidence of a decline in the thistle population.” . . .

Pastoral farmers asked to think pig, poultry-style – Tim Fulton:

CANTERBURY farmers affected by Chilean Needle Grass (CNG) have been encouraged by local support for their position but the regional council warns the grass can still take root any time and place.

ECan’s latest biosecurity newsletter suggests pastoral farmers take similar precautions to pig and poultry farmers, by controlling movement of people, vehicles and machinery on and off their property

Sheep farmer Owen Gould from Parnassus in the Hurunui district has clarified the extent of CNG on his place, hoping to make other farmers aware of the plant and steps to contain it. . .

Govt help unlikely – Alan Williams:

Three of New Zealand’s biggest meat companies took a restructuring proposal to the Government but were told they would need more substantial industry and farmer support before it could help with legislation.

The reaction has negative implications for any plan involving a merger between only two players, the Silver Fern Farms and Alliance Group co-operatives.

In its campaigning to get candidates elected to the boards of the two co-ops, the Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) group has suggested the Government would legislate to provide protection for their 52-54% market share in the early stages of a merged entity. . .

David makes old Goliath steam:

When David Walker first saw the 1901 traction engine at a Marlborough winery it was a hulk.

He described its condition as “rust value only” when he took delivery on April 16 this year.

However, the committed restorer had the rare 10 horsepower steam driven engine up and running, albeit minus its pin-striping, in time for the weekend’s Nelson A&P Show.

“It hadn’t been steamed up in 62 years,” said Mr Walker of his latest prize. To get it operational he had to replace, rebuild or repair nearly every moving part. . .

NZB National Yearling Sales Series Catalogues Online Today:

The catalogues for New Zealand Bloodstock’s 88th National Yearling Sales Series are now available online.

A total of 1371 yearlings have been catalogued across the three sales sessions of Karaka’s week-long auction extravaganza, starting on Monday 27 January 2014.
Premier Cover

The PREMIER SALE catalogue features a world-class line-up of 469 Lots – 28 more than in January 2013 – set to be offered over two days on Monday 27 & Tuesday 28 January, commencing at 11am each day. . .


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