Rural round-up

January 29, 2019

Book charts history of Young Farmer contest – Sally Rae:

For 50 years, the Young Farmer of the Year contest has been part of the fabric of New Zealand’s rural sector.

Dubbed “the challenge second only to the land”, it tests the knowledge and skills of the country’s young farmers.

To mark the milestone, Hawke’s Bay writer Kate Taylor has recorded the contest’s history in 50 Years Young — A History of the Young Farmer of the Year.

But it is more than just a comprehensive history; it contains interviews with various winners, finalists and organisers, and is peppered with interesting and amusing anecdotes. . . 

Farmer shocked heifers missing – Hamish MacLean:

A North Otago dairy farmer says he is in a state of disbelief after realising 60 rising 2-year Friesian heifers had been taken from his farm.

Russell Hurst, of Awamoko, said the animals, taken between the week before Christmas and New Year’s Day, could be worth $100,000.

He and his staff went ”around and round the farm in circles” double-checking the mobs on the 2500ha farm to make sure the animals had been stolen.

”It’s just disbelief, really,” Mr Hurst said. . . 

Restrictions loom for river irrigators in Marlborough – Matt Brown:

New Zealand’s largest wine region could soon be facing water restrictions as record-high temperatures affect rivers.

The Rai, Waihopai and Wairau Rivers’ minimum flow rates were rapidly being approached and surface water “takes” were expected to be halted by the end of next week.

Marlborough District Council hydrologist Val Wadsworth said it was trying to “forward forecast” on the current rate of flow decline, but it was difficult to be concise. . . 

Pioneer works with maize insurer – Richard Rennie:

The country’s largest maize seed supplier is working with an insurance company to settle losses incurred after seed treatment failure in some hybrid varieties this season.

Early in the maize planting season late last year a number of growers in Waikato and Northland reported stunted crops post-germination, prompting some to replant crops before mid December.

Pioneer’s investigation team head Raewyn Densley said a number of growers have . . 

Taranaki honeymoon: whacking possums – Jamie Morton:

Forget Paris: for one newlywed couple, there’s no better honeymoon than killing possums in Taranaki.

Fresh from their wedding, Andrea and Max Hoegh are working at the frontline of New Zealand’s first large-scale possum eradication operation.

The biggest pest-busting project of its kind in the country, Towards Predator-Free Taranaki divided the region into pizza-slice sections around the mountain, with work kicking off in the New Plymouth area. . . 

Your dinner’s in the lab – the future of ‘cell-based’ meat – Gwynne Dyer:

“Right now, growing cells as meat instead of animals is a very expensive process,” says Yaakov Nahmias, founder and chief scientist of Israel-based startup Future Meat Technologies. But it will get cheaper, and it probably will be needed.

The global population is heading for 10 billion by 2050, from the current 7.7b. Average global incomes will triple in the same period, enabling more people to eat meat-rich diets. . .

 


Rural round-up

January 11, 2018

Retiring meat industry leader goes farming – Heather Chalmers:

Retiring Anzco founder Sir Graeme Harrison says the meat industry remains in a battle for survival, writes Heather Chalmers.

Life is turning full circle for retiring Anzco Foods founder and chairman Sir Graeme Harrison.

Harrison who has sold his shares in Anzco and steps down as chairman as its annual meeting in March, is now turning his attention to farming. After 34 years with the company he is relaxed about moving on, with the succession plan well signalled.

Again living in Methven, where his family farmed and trained racehorses in his younger days, his new focus is a hill country property with flats at Alford Forest in the Mid-Canterbury foothills. The sheep and beef property is farmed by his daughter and son-in-law Michelle and Daniel Carson, and he intends to take an active role. . . 

Fears tōtara trees could be wiped out on the East Coast – John Boynton:

There are calls for more to be done to save tōtara trees in the Raukumara Forest Park Range from being wiped out by pests.

Possum and deer are killing the ancient native trees and are also causing a decline in the numbers of other native plants and animals in the forest.

The Raukumara Forest Park Range spans 11,000ha across the East Coast of the North Island and consists of dense, isolated and uncompromising terrain.

It has proven to be the perfect breeding ground for possum, deer and red goats which are causing major damage to the forest ecosystem. . .

Nothing sheepish about advocacy on this farm – Owen Roberts:

From the time they graduated (two years apart) from the University of Guelph in the 1990s, through to their current leadership roles in Ontario agriculture, Mark and Sandi Brock have become widely known for their honest and public portrayal of modern farming.  And they’re challenging other producers to join them, to make sure urban Canada is getting the right messages.  

“Agriculture needs to align itself with influencers and stop talking to itself,” Mark says. “We need to be giving unified messages that people are less apt to forget.” . . 

DYNE wins the inaugural Woolmark Prize Innovation Award:

DYNE was today announced the inaugural winner of the 2017/2018 International Woolmark Prize Innovation Award, presented at a special event during Pitti Uomo at Stazione Leopolda in Florence.

The award was judged by a highly esteemed panel, led by Future Tech Lab founder/CEO Miroslava Duma and included Amber Valletta, Elizabeth Von Guttman, Emanuele Farneti, Julie Davies, Livia Firth, Miroslava Duma, Nonita Kalra, Phillip Lim, Riccardo Vannetti, Sarah Mower and Stuart McCullough along with representatives from the International Woolmark Prize retail partner network.

The Innovation Award powered by Future Tech Lab celebrates the collection with the most innovative and creative wool fabrication, process or development and was awarded to the finalist who demonstrated the most exciting approach to help reduce its social and environmental footprint. DYNE will receive $100,000 along with commercial opportunities. . . 

Bodice wins the 2017/18 International Woolmark Prize for women’s wear:

Bodice was today announced the womenswear winner of the 2017/2018 International Woolmark Prize, presented at a special event during Pitti Uomo at Stazione Leopolda in Florence.

The award was judged by a highly esteemed panel, including Amber Valletta, Elizabeth Von Guttman, Emanuele Farneti, Julie Davies, Livia Firth, Liya Kebede, Miroslava Duma, Nonita Kalra, Phillip Lim, Riccardo Vannetti, Sarah Mower and Stuart McCullough along with representatives from the International Woolmark Prize retail partner network: Boutique 1, Boon The Shop, David Jones, Harvey Nichols, Hudson’s Bay, Lane Crawford, L’Eclaireur, mytheresa.com, ORDRE, Parlour X, Ssense.com, Sugar and Tata CLiQ Luxury.

Representing India, Pakistan and the Middle East, Bodice was selected as the womenswear winner, praised for technique and the manufacturing process. Inspired by her grandmother who used to upcycle saris into quilts, Bodice addressed the issue of consumer waste in fashion with traditional techniques of recycling and cultural beliefs in the spiritual power of cloth to affect our wellbeing.  . . 

Matthew Miller wins the 2017/19 International Woolmark Prize for men’s wear:

Matthew Miller was today announced the menswear winner of the menswear 2017/2018 International Woolmark Prize, presented at a special event during Pitti Uomo at Stazione Leopolda in Florence.

The award was judged by a highly esteemed panel, including Amber Valletta, Elizabeth Von Guttman, Emanuele Farneti, Julie Davies, Livia Firth, Liya Kebede, Miroslava Duma, Nonita Kalra, Phillip Lim, Riccardo Vannetti, Sarah Mower and Stuart McCullough along with representatives from the International Woolmark Prize retail partner network.

For Vogue Italia Editor-in-Chief Emanuele Farneti, Matthew Miller presented a well-balanced collection, with attractive price points. “He showed a good combination between innovation, commercial viability and pieces which will be worn by men on the street.” . . 

So what do Canadian farmers do in winter? – Jake Leguee:

Today is winter solstice—the darkest day of the year.

Here in southeast Saskatchewan, where my family farms, we’ll see about eight hours of daylight. The sun rises a little before 9 am and sets around 5 pm, local time.

It raises a question that I sometimes hear from friends who don’t work in agriculture: What do crop farmers do all winter?

 

Teachers sometimes joke that they went into education for three reasons: June, July, and August. There’s a similar gag in farming: Our seasons are April, August, and Arizona.

As much as I wish I could boast about relaxing all winter by the pool in Phoenix or Tucson, the truth is that I work on my farm year-round—even during the winter, when the nights are longer than the days.

The job of a farmer never ends. . .


Rural round-up

November 24, 2017

NZ food shortages in 5 years – report – Pam Tipa:

New Zealand has no food security policy and will be short of some foods within five years, says a Horticulture NZ report on domestic vegetable production.

“We complacently believe we will always be able to sustainably grow enough food to feed ourselves and contribute to the country’s economic wellbeing,” the report says.

“However with prime production land being lost, climate change, competition for water resources, extreme weather events and the constant threat of pests and disease we must turn our minds to food security issues for the future of NZ’s domestic production.” . . 

Young Farmers search for talent – Tim Fulton:

Young Farmers is re-inventing itself as an agency for talent attraction from schools, helping farming to compete for staff in towns and cities.

The organisation was pitching for funding from industry groups and corporates to inject more farming-based curriculum into the education system.

The project would cost $1.5m, chief executive Terry Copeland said.

Once in place Young Farmers staff would manage the relationship with schools and commercial backers of the project like a sales account, he said. . .

Sweet success in manuka honey – Peter Burke:

Manuka honey could long term earn more money for a central North Island Maori trust than its sheep and beef farming operation.

Atihau Whanganui Incorporation, whose large land holdings range from the central North Island to the Whanganui River, is planting manuka on steep country largely unsuitable, or less productive, for sheep and beef.

Chief executive Andrew Beijeman says they are also letting land, which is naturally reverting back to manuka. . .

Possums sorted – look out Omaui rats – Kate Guthrie:

A few years back, John Collins of Omaui got sick of shooting possums every night. He decided more needed to be done.

Omaui is a small village of about 30 houses in Southland, located right at the mouth of the Oreti River estuary, opposite Oreti Beach.

“I’ve always been environment-minded,” says John, who is now Chairman of the Omaui Landcare Group, “But until I came to Omaui I’d never settled in a place where that feeling for the environment came out. . .

IrrigationNZ back to help improve irrigation management:

IrrigationNZ will be back on farms this summer testing irrigation systems and helping farmers improve the efficiency of their irrigation.

Last summer, IrrigationNZ in partnership with Environment Canterbury, developed a new testing programme which saw 131 Ashburton farms have their irrigation systems tested to see how they were performing.

Over the next three months, IrrigationNZ will be testing irrigation systems in Selwyn district. As part of the testing process, farmers and farm staff are also interviewed to find out how they manage their irrigation systems. . . 

Can we sustainably meet the growing demand for meat in developing countries?—Yes, says Louise Fresco – Susan MacMillan:

The following argument for continuing to use livestock to use the planet’s full ecological potential is made by Louise Fresco, a Dutch writer and food and agricultural scientist specializing in sustainable tropical agriculture. President of the executive board of Wageningen University and Research, Fresco is a member of the World Food Prize Council of Advisors and holds many other distinguished appointments and honours.

Fresco says that the short answer to the question of whether livestock production can meet the growing demand for meat in developing countries is ‘yes’.

‘Livestock production cannot only meet the growing demand for animal proteins, but we absolutely need livestock to use the planet in a sustainable and healthy way. . .

 


Rural round-up

May 4, 2016

Frustrating waste of time and money, but it’s the price of democracy – Allan Barber:

The media release from Silver Fern Farms about the requisition for a special meeting to consider the resolution to form a partnership with Shanghai Maling reeks of the company’s frustration at what it sees as a complete waste of time. However, regardless of that frustration, the company has agreed to the requisition and will set a date for the meeting.

A group of 80 shareholders, led by John Shrimpton and Blair Gallagher, has passed the required 5% threshold to requisition the board to hold a special meeting in compliance with the Companies Act. Shrimpton cancelled a meeting with the board which he had arranged for 2nd May and which the board was keen to hold, so its members could learn and understand the purpose and legal justification of the requisition.

Not surprisingly the board sets out a list of very cogent reasons why it considers the requisition a waste of management time and resources, notably 67% of shareholders have already voted with 85% in favour of the deal, SFF would be in breach of contract if it pulled out and there would be no legal obligation on the company as a result of the special meeting. . . 

Females rule in the stud cattle world – Kate Taylor:

With a twinkle in his eye aimed at wife and daughter-in-law sitting at the table with him, David Thomson says “women rule the world” in his business… the cattle business.

“If I was buying a bull, I tried to make sure it had a good dam line behind it,” he says.

“On this rolling to steep limestone country, calves pick up a lot from their mothers, such as temperament and ability to walk. Chances are, if you have a toey cow she’ll have a toey calf and will be culled.” . . 

Rural Health issues brought to the Beehive:

Rural health issues will be brought to the Beehive this week during the Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand’s’ (RHANZ) ‘RuralFest’ conference.

RHANZ, which is made up of 42 membership organisations, are gathering in Wellington for the inaugural RuralFest – to discuss and determine the top health and well-being issues facing rural communities.

Rural GP Dr Jo Scott-Jones says RuralFest is a flagship event for RHANZ, who represent a united voice from across multiple rural sector organisations. . . 

Pee could be the key to pest control -Conan Young

A Christchurch researcher may have found a way to dramatically increase the effectiveness of possum traps.

Poison remains the most effective means of controlling possums, but trapping is preferred near towns and cities. Photo: 123RF

At present the success rate for possum traps can be as low as 30 percent, but a new lure which replaces icing sugar with possum urine has increased the kill rate by as much as 25 percent.

Lure creator and Landcare Research scientist Janine Duckworth said possums spent more time at the traps set with urine and were more likely to trigger the trap. . . 

Farmers and cyclists – the dark side of social media – Marc Gasgoigne :

I’m a dairy farmer and I’m also a cyclist. Sometimes I wonder if I’m one of the most hated people in New Zealand.

Whenever dairy farming features in the news there are plenty of knockers queuing up to put the boot in, apparently we are the cause of many of the world’s problems, from global warming to polluting the rivers to abusing baby cows.

But now cyclists are featuring in the knocking machine. First there was the publican in Rangiora who banned cyclists wearing lycra from entering his premises, saying it was offensive to his patrons.

Then there was a Facebook post abusing cyclists, ironically on the NZ Farming page (NZ Farmer has no connection with NZ Farming).  . . 

Farm takeover! Planting GMO corn – Uptown Farms:

Two weeks ago, April 23, was the day I had been waiting for since I successfully coerced my farmer husband into letting me take over sixty acres! 

To read about #my60Acres from the start, go here and scroll down to the bottom!
 
It was finally planting day!   Picking the right time to plant involves a little bit of planning, some major guessing and hopefully some good luck!
 
Long before planting however I worked with Matt to figure out exactly what type of corn seed we would use. . . 


Rural round-up

December 9, 2014

Beef + Lamb, Open Polytechnic Join Forces for Productivity:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) has teamed up with Open Polytechnic to provide specialist agribusiness training for sheep and beef farmers – just one plank of a wider strategic initiative to find ways to increase the long-term, sustainable profitability of the red meat sector.

B+LNZ and Open Polytechnic are now inviting sheep and beef farmers to register their interest in the training. Timing and locations will be determined by uptake.

Known as “Farm Smarter”, the programme focuses on agribusiness profitability and production management. Farmers who complete the course qualify for a National Certificate in Agriculture (Production Management, Level 5).

Doug Macredie, B+LNZ sector capability project manager, said: “Participants will learn how to use customised tools to save time and add value to their farming businesses. Particular emphasis is placed on analysing existing resources and benchmarking from high performing properties to set and monitor future goals.” . .

The Wairere maxim: Only the strong survive – Jon Morgan:

Asked to explain the key to being a successful sheep breeder, Derek Daniell thinks for a second or two, then smiles and says: “Well, to put it simply, it’s about tits and bums.”

He looks down the hill to a small group of two-tooth ewes hugging the shade of an overhanging bank and explains. “It’s tits because the ewes need to be good milkers and rear big lambs.”

He points to the two-tooth rams on the hillside above him and adds, “and it’s bums because that’s where most of the meat is.”

The sheep are romneys, the breed that is the mainstay of his Wairere stud in the inhospitable hills of northern Wairarapa.. . .

NZX dairy futures curve flattens ahead of Fonterra’s review – Jonathan Underhill:

 (BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group may cut its forecast milk payout by a fifth this week with dwindling prospects that the price of whole milk powder will recover enough to support its current estimate.

Whole milk powder sold at US$2,229 a tonne in last week’s GlobalDairyTrade auction and would need to surge 57 percent by March to reach the US$3,500 a tonne level that Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings has said the current forecast payout of $5.30 a kilogram of milk solids is predicated on.

The chances of that sort of recovery are slipping away. NZX Whole Milk Powder Futures contracts have tumbled in the past three weeks, with contracts scheduled to expire in April to July 2015 dropping more than nearer-dated contracts. For example, May 2015 WMP futures have fallen to US$2,410 a tonne from US$2,950/tonne on Nov. 18. June 2015 futures have declined to US$2,500/tonne from US$3,025/tonne. . . .

Venison firm confident of industry’s future:

A fall in farmed deer numbers is not discouraging venison processor and exporter Duncan and Co.

The business has just expanded its operation by taking full ownership of Otago Venison Ltd. at Mosgiel.

Duncan and Co has had a shareholding in the Otago plant since it started 21 years ago.

General marketing manager Glenn Tyrrell said there had been a decline in the number of smaller scale deer farms as a result of dairy expansion. . .

Winning cider years in the making:

Top quality cider begins in the orchard with specialty trees, which like wine from older vines, gets better with age, an award winning Hawke’s Bay cider maker says.

Paul Paynter, a fifth generation apple grower, picked up the Cider Trophy at this year’s New Zealand Fruit Wine and Cider Makers Awards for his Paynter’s Cider.

The award winning drink had been eight years in the making, and began in the back shed. . .

World’s First for Fashion From Untouched World™:

Leading New Zealand lifestyle fashion brand Untouched World launches KAPUA™, an exclusive new knitwear development that sets the benchmark for supreme luxury and comfort.

Kapua, being the Maori word for cloud, truly expresses the sensation of this new knitwear. It is another example of innovation from Snowy Peak Ltd, parent company of Untouched World™.

By blending three of nature’s finest fibres; luxurious cashmere (40%), the new dehaired delicate winter downy undercoat of the possum (40%), and silk (20%), they have created an ultra-luxurious yarn.

CEO Peri Drysdale is overwhelmed with the response they’ve received since unveiling Kapua. “To hear people describe it as exquisite, covetable and the most luxurious textile they’ve ever touched, just makes all the development work worthwhile” she says. . .

 

 


Word of the day

July 9, 2012

Possum – an opossum; tree-dwelling Australasian marsupial (Petauridae and other families); drinking game in which participants sit in a tree, drinking beer until they fall out; term of endearment.


1080 still needed

June 8, 2011

Banning 1080 would damage native forests, birds, insects and reptiles parliamentary commissioner for the environment Jan Wright says:

“Possums, rats and stoats are chewing up our forests to the point that we are only a generation away from seeing regional extinctions of kiwis and other native species where no pest control is carried out.

“There are other pest control methods that are more suitable than 1080 in certain circumstances but on much of our conservation land there is currently nothing else that will effectively kill possums, rats and stoats.

“While there may be an alternative to 1080 one day, if we want to keep our forests for future generations we simply cannot afford to stop using 1080. Time is not a luxury we have.

“So many of our native forests, birds, reptiles and insects are unlike those found anywhere else in the world and form a distinct part of our identity. It would be a travesty to allow these to disappear.”

Possums and stoats also carry TB which is a danger to cattle.

There are places where alternatives to 1080 can and are used to good effect. We visited a farm in Marlborough in March where an extensive pest trapping programme was making a big difference to pasture, native bush and birds.

But Dr Wright is right – there are some places where 1080 is the best option. Vast tracts of native bush are inaccessible and aerial drops of 1080 are the only way to kill the pests which will kill the plants, insects, birds and reptiles there.

The full report is here.


Guess what we saw at school today!

February 7, 2010

“Aunty Ele, Aunty Ele, guess what we saw at school today!” said Ms 9.

“What did you see at school today?” I replied.

“A possum having babies,” Ms 5 said.

“Was this a real, live possum,” I asked.

“Yes, it was in the roof of the play shed and the babies were mostly pink with just a little bit of fur,” MS 9 said.

Biology lessons at school in Townsville in 2010 are very different from the ones I had in Oamaru in the 1960s.


Possums down, birds up

November 28, 2009

What’s bad for possums is good for native birds.

The extermination strategy has resulted in a drop in possum numbers from 60 to 70 million in the 1980s to around 30 million and as possum numbers have decreased, native bird populations have increased.

Forest and Bird spokeswoman Helen Bain said the drop was a factor in exploding numbers of tui in the Wellington area. “We’re getting a lot of anecdotal reports that numbers are up. I was in town the other day and I would have seen about 20 of them.”

Possums would raid the nests of native birds, such as tui, taking eggs, chicks and sometimes even adult birds, she said. “If we get possum numbers down, native birds and plants come back big time.”

One of the methods used to control possums is drops of 1080 poison which is controversial. Hunting and trapping are used where possible but 1080 is the only practical method of extermination in some areas.

Possums not only destroy trees, they eat birds eggs and compete with some native species for food.

They also carry bovine tuberculosis which can infect farm animals.

Their fur, now known as paihamu in the fashion industry, is wonderful by itself or mixed with merino wool. But the animals are pests and if 1080 is the only way to protect our forests, native birds and farm animals from them then this is one case when the end justifies the means.


Noises in the night

October 16, 2009

We were woken by a strange noise just before dawn.

When it got light enough to see we found the source – a possum in the tree a metre or so from the bedroom window:

possum


Tuesday’s Answers

September 29, 2009

Monday’s questions were:

1. What’s a mugwump?

2. Who wrote Book Book?

3. Who said,  “I was only doing my job boss, looking after my mates”?

4. The song is Po Atarau in Maori, what is it in English ?

5. What is paihamu?

Gravedodger got four right, though gave only a partial answer to #1, he gets 2 bonuses for expanded answers to the others, and sympathy on the loss of his dog.

Samo got four right too, and a bonus for the creative answer to #2.

Paul got three right, was on the right track with #1 and earned a bonuse for his creative answer to #2.

Tuesday’s answers follow the break:

Read the rest of this entry »


Where to with wool?

September 2, 2009

Merino has got it right.

By itself or with possum, now renamed paihamu, it is a premium product.

Crossbred wool can’t match that and has been losing ground to synthetics for years.

Too much of the world prefers tiles to carpet. Too many of the parts which do like their floors covered have found cheaper and/or harder wearing alternatives to wool.

Alternative uses have been tried. The stab proof, fire proof vest and insulation both have promise but have yet to make enough traction to improve the value of crossbred wool.

The fibre pushes the right buttons for the environmentally concerned times: it’s a natural product and it’s renewable.

But in spite of that prices are so low the return barely covers the costs of shearing.

Frustration over that is no doubt part of the reason behind the vote against paying levies on wool to Meat and Wool New Zealand.

The organisation may well become Meat New Zealand now it’s lost farmers’ funding for its wool related activities but the loss of half its name is the least of its worries.

Loss of funding for wool research means the budget for meat research will have to go further. Some studies, in genetics for instance, would have been funded from both the meat and wool levies.

Another valuable resource paid for by the wool levy was shearer training. It might be possible for some of the people who did that to set up a separate business and continue the service, but it will be more difficult than it was under M&W’s umbrella with AgITO funding.

Sheep returns made a much-needed recovery last season when the price paid by meat companies went up. A shortage of stock here and overseas is expected to keep this season’s price at a reasonable level but the industry can’t afford to stand still.

Research and education in both meat and wool are still needed. Meat and Wool still has a mandate, and funding, to undertake industry-good activities for meat, but who’s going to do the work for wool?


Possums are now paihamu

May 29, 2009

If you’re old enough you’ll remember that kiwifruit were once Chinese gooseberries and tamarillos were tree tomatoes.

Now there’s been another name change – possums have become paihamu:

Once referred to as Australian Brushtail possum, the industry is returning to the Maori word Paihamu to avoid confusion with the American possum (which is a different species, looks different and lacks the silky and warm fur quality).

Call them what you will, they’re still a pest in forests and on farms.

They compete with native birds for food, eat young growth of trees , destroying forests, and sometimes dine on birds’ eggs and chicks. They also carry tuberculosis which is a danger to beef and dairy cattle and deer.

But their fur is wonderful, and mixed with merino makes clothes which look good, feel better and are very good at keeping winter chills at bay.


Putting possums on the pill

April 13, 2009

A contraceptive for possums  has been successfully trialled at Wellington Zoo.

The treatment makes possums infertile for up to two years.

Associate Professor Doug Eckery, of Victoria University, said he hoped to have field trials underway by 2013.

“It was an exciting result, but delivery is the key,” he told the Dominion Post.

The challenge was to find a way to distribute it to wild possums, possibly using bait.

The estimated 50 to 70 million possums  in New Zealand compete with native birds for food, eat young growth of trees , destryoing forests, and sometimes dine on birds’ eggs and chicks. They also carry tuberculosis which is a danger to beef and dairy cattle and deer.

North Otago is a low risk area for TB but we  had several outbreaks in our dairy herd. It took ages to find the carrier,  a cow which had come from the West Coast. Testing isn’t 100% reliable and it wasn’t until she was culled after drying herself off that we discovered she was riddled with TB.


Pepper pots possum

September 14, 2008

If you are a sensitive soul like Poneke  who can’t/won’t kill flies or Fairfacts Media   who lets mice go after he’s caught them, you may be better not to read this.

Animal welfare is of paramount concern on our farms, as it is with all but a tiny minority who shouldn’t call themselves farmers. But although we treat animals well we don’t operate a catch and release policy for pests.

We kill them quickly and cleanly but we do kill them.

So does Pepper. His mother was a golden labrador, we suspect his father was a sheep dog and the result is a playing rather than working dog.

He’s not just ornamental though, he catches flies, rabbits and for the first time today he caught a possum.

Pepper accompanies me on my morning walk, and probably covers at least twice as much distance as I do because he’s always dashing off to investigate smells of interest en route.

This morning he disappeared down a bank and shortly afterwards I heard high pitched squeals. Moments later he appeared with a freshly killed possum in his mouth.

Possums compete with native birds for food, eat young growth of trees and sometimes birds eggs and chicks. They also carry TB which can infect farm animals.

They are pests so I was pleased Pepper killed one this morning, but just to show I’m not entirely heartless, I was also pleased he did it quickly.


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