Rural round-up

August 24, 2019

Climate report gives much needed detail – Pam TIpa:

The latest IPCC Special Report has the potential to turn the way we look at climate change on its head, says DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle.

It highlights the challenges of providing sustainable food for a growing population and says animal sourced food from sustainable systems has a role to play.

The IPCC Special Report, released this month, is a “welcome contribution” to the developing debate on climate, says Mackle. . .

Milk shake – Why the future of dairy looks scary – Teresa Cowie:

Dairy’s huge role earning export dollars for New Zealand is facing a threat some say could bring it to its knees. Lab-grown milk protein is now stepping outside niche cheese and ice cream markets and into the bulk ingredient arena. As Teresa Cowie has been finding out, a fight for this bulk commodity market could have serious consequences for our dairy industry.

At a lab in San Francisco, scientists working for New Zealand synthetic dairy start-up New Culture are trying to work out how they can produce mozzarella that looks, tastes and very importantly stretches like the real thing. Across the Pacific at home in Auckland, the company’s founder Matt Gibson says, as a vegan himself, the plant-based cheese offerings that refuse to melt properly and fail to satisfy in the taste department drew him towards exploring yeast fermented dairy protein, that cuts out the need for cows.

Plant-based diets are moving from niche to mainstream as consumers become more aware of the issues of animal welfare, climate change and pressure to feed the growing population. And this shift is predicted to be a huge disruption for New Zealand dairy, as makers of lab-produced products race to take over the ingredients market our farmers rely on. . . 

Pragmatism sweeps into Mackenzie debate – David Williams:

An environmental group floats ideas for protecting the Mackenzie Basin’s landscapes. David Williams reports.

It’s both the poster child and the problem child.

Turqouise lakes and tawny tussocks draw more than a million tourists to the South Island’s Mackenzie Basin each year. But many believe irrigation-fuelled intensive farming – on former Crown-owned leases, often, within easy view of the highway – is ruining landscapes and sending mixed messages to turn tourists off.

The Government won’t buy the whole basin, so how do you balance protection with economic activity, while acknowledging those, including Māori, with important connections to the land? . . 

‘Men have always taken the glory’: Why more women are becoming farmers – Harriet Agerholm:

Hannah Jackson was helping a farmer get his sheep ready for a country show, when he told her to let “the lads down the road” groom the rams because they were “far too strong” for her.

The 27-year-old did not listen. “I went into the pen where there were these big male sheep, flipped one on its bum and started filing its feet,” she says. “I’d stand shoulder-to-shoulder with any man.”

More and more women like Hannah, who now runs her own farm, are entering the male-dominated UK agriculture industry.

About 17% of farmers are female, up from 7% in 2007-8, according to last year’s Office for National Statistics’ annual population survey. . . 

Silver Fern Farms wants to close Fairton pelt processing plant :

New Zealand’s largest meat processor, Silver Fern Farms wants to shut its pelt processing plant at Fairton, just outside Ashburton.

The company said this would affect 44 staff at the Fairton site and four others preparing pelts at Pareora further south. A final decision will come after consultation with staff and their union, which will take until the end of August.

Staff had been presented with potential redundancy, as well as work options at other Silver Fern Farms sites in the region, it said.

Silver Fern Farms closed its Fairton sheepmeat processing plant in May 2017, affecting 370 staff, following a decline in regional sheep numbers. . . 

Multi-faceted approach required for management of internal parasites:

Changes in land use or farm policies which result in predominance of young livestock could be recipe for disaster in terms of the development of drench resistance.

Ben Allott from North Canterbury Vets says while sheep and beef farmers are often encouraged to use triple active drenches to circumnavigate drench resistance issues, he says this ignores the changes that need to be made to address the fundamental issues that are creating the environment for drench resistance to occur.

Stocking policies that drive a reliance on chemicals to control internal parasites create the perfect environment for breeding drench resistant worms. These include intensive lamb finishing operations, particularly under irrigation and dairy heifer grazing. . .

Now that scientists have sequenced the avocado genome, can we grow them in Minnesota?   – Kamari Stewart:

From toast to theme restaurants, the avocado has soared in popularity in the United States. Consumption is up from 436.6 million pounds annually to 2.4 billion pounds between 1985 and 2018.

Researchers from Texas Tech University and the University of Buffalo have studied avocados in a way that is best described as a 23andMe test. They compared the roots of the Hass cultivar (a Mexican-Guatemalan hybrid) and a Mexican strain, to West Indian, Guatemalan, and other Mexican varieties. They discovered that the avocado genome has naturally evolved over time to increase its resistance to disease—a finding that could be significant for the future of avocado breeding.

The discovery could help growers breed more disease-resistant avocados, and eventually lead to varieties that are drought-resistant or less temperature sensitive, and can be grown in northern and drier climates. More growing options could help supply match demand and protect shoppers from a price hike like this year’s. In early July, avocado prices were 129 percent higher than they were at the same time in 2018. . . 

 


Rural round-up

June 29, 2019

Success from the ground up – Luke Chivers:

Future Post is leading change in on-farm sustainability with its new environmentally friendly fence post that won the top Agricultural Innovation award at this year’s Fieldays.

“It came as a huge surprise,” Future Post founder Jerome Wenzlick said.

“We weren’t expecting to win, that’s for sure.” . .

Here’s my beef with the entitled and pampered fat cats – Phil Quin:

Whereas I’m not exactly persuaded by James Cameron and Sir Peter Jackson that New Zealand can or should go meat-free, I’m pretty sure we could manage without three more Avatar films.

“What we need,” Cameron told us last week, “is a nice transition to a meatless or relatively meatless world in 20 or 30 years.”

Even for a filmmaker better known for special effects than human-seeming dialogue, this is a clunker. 

To be fair, though, when you’ve made a couple of billion dollars from blue aliens on a fictitious planet, and when you have come to regard New Zealand as your personal movie set, what’s so hard about replacing dairy and meat with plant-based alternatives?   . . .

Grain sector sees bold future – Annette Scott:

New Zealand is behind other countries in developing and investing in plant-based food ingredients and it’s time to bite the bullet, Plant Research managing director Adrian Russell says.

Agriculture and the world food supply are in the biggest revolution in history, Russell told the Grain and Seed Industry Forum at Lincoln.

“There’s incredibly exciting times to get into as an industry, things are changing and we need to change with it.

“The rise of the flexitarian consuming less meat is predicted to quadruple global pea protein demand by 2025.  . .

Rural boards changing – Brent Melville:

Rural New Zealand boardrooms, once the exclusive enclave of the old boys’ club, are becoming more diversified.

It is not happening quickly. But it is happening.

Women account for only about one in four board members of the large primary sector co-operatives. Two are on the 11-strong Fonterra board and they comprise two of seven on the Silver Fern Farms board, two of nine on the Board of Alliance Farmers Produce and three of 10 on the Farmlands board. . . 

New job helps with title aspirations – Sally Brooker:

Alan Harvey’s new job is proving great preparation for his tilt at the Young Farmer of the Year title.

The Aorangi region representative in the grand final has moved from being an agricultural consultant for Agri Planz to operations manager for North Otago dairy farming company Borst Holdings Ltd.

After winning the Aorangi competition in February, Mr Harvey said he would have to work on his knowledge of the dairy sector before the national final in Hawke’s Bay on July 4 to 6. So he is filling the gaps in his knowledge while enjoying the variety his job brings. . . 

Egg Industry introduces first industry-led trace programme:

A locally developed, industry-led source assurance programme will set the bar for consumers by enabling them to trace their eggs back to the farm they came from to verify that the eggs they want to buy are the eggs in the carton, says New Zealand’s Egg Producers Federation (EPF).

“True source assurance comes from authenticity across multiple platforms, and for that reason, we see this as the most ambitious primary industry-led programme available,” says EPF Executive Director, Michael Brooks. . . 

The slow welcome death of GMO panic – Abe Greenwald:

In the United States, the public panic about the dangers of genetically modified foods is fading fast. This is an amazing—and rare—triumph of reason and science over public hysteria and political posturing.

On Monday, for example, the New York Times published an article by Knuvul Sheikh detailing recent advances in genetically modified crops without offering a single word about potential health dangers or environmental concerns. In fact, it seems there’s a rebranding effort on the left to hype GMO foods as a vital response to climate change.


Rural round-up

April 24, 2019

Otago’s long rabbit war wages on – Jono Edwards:

They are fluffy, cute, and devastating to agriculture. Jono Edwards examines Otago’s rabbit problem and asks if there is any solution.

Otago’s problems with the long-eared grey/brown menace – the rabbit – began as early as the 1830s, when colonists brought them to New Zealand shores for food and sport.

They quickly realised their mistake as the pests spread and destroyed crops nationwide.

In the 1860s they became established between Invercargill and Riverton, and were devastating crops all over the south by the early 1880s. . .

Horticulture welcomes call for protection of versatile land:

An environmental report released last week further substantiates Horticulture New Zealand’s concerns about ongoing urban and lifestyle block expansion into prime growing land, and shows that urgent action is required to slow this down.

The Environment Aotearoa 2019 report, released by the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ, shows that the growth of urban centres threatens the limited versatile land surrounding regional centres such as Auckland, Waikato, and Canterbury. . .

Handling psychological pressure key – Sally Rae:

Lance Burdett describes his job as helping people as much as he can.

A safety, wellness and resilience expert, Mr Burdett has worked with elite international tactical units across police, the military, emergency services, prisons and the FBI.

Now he focuses his time on helping people understand the pressures on their brains and how to handle them.

Rural Support Trusts are bringing Mr Burdett to the South, where he will be speaking in Oamaru on May 13, Balclutha on May 14, Gore on May 15 and 16, and Winton on May 16 . . 

Fonterra mulling Tip Top offers :

Fonterra has moved to the next stage of its plan to sell-off its Tip Top ice cream business.

A spokesperson for the co-operative said it received a number of offers from buyers last month and is now considering them.

Follow-up offers are due on 29 April. . .

N surplus shows performance:

Nitrogen leaching varies significantly depending on soil type and climate, which means it’s not a straightforward performance indicator. An alternative approach is to look at a farm’s nitrogen surplus.

It’s a goal of many farmers to improve sustainability, with a significant focus on N leaching in many regions. However, nitrogen (N) leaching varies significantly depending on soil type and climate, factors that cannot be changed (though irrigation can alleviate dry conditions, but also increase drainage).

Focusing on N surplus instead is an easier method of determining farm performance and gaining environmental benefits. Reducing N surplus can also save farmers money. . .

Applications now open for Silver Fern Farms Plate to Pasture Youth Scholarships 2019:

Silver Fern Farms welcomes applications for the Plate to Pasture Youth Scholarships for 2019. In its third year, the Plate to Pasture Scholarship programme will award six winners from across the country $5000 to assist with developing their careers and capabilities in the red meat sector.

Silver Fern Farms Chief Executive Simon Limmer says that supporting emerging talent in the red meat sector is vital to developing relationships that will strengthen the red meat sector.


Rural round-up

April 8, 2018

School farm visits to encourage agricultural careers – Hunter Calder:

Benneydale School children watched eagerly as wool came off sheep on Storth Oaks Farm.

For some of the pupils it was the first time they’d ever been on a farm, not to mention seeing a sheep in the flesh.

“It’s very soft and mushy,” one pupil said as he felt the wool.

“It’s nice, it smells like cotton candy,” another student said. . . 

Both lamb and beef exports expected to break $3 billion for the first time and forecast farm profits rise:

Both beef and lamb exports are expected to break the $3 billion mark for the first time as high lamb, mutton and beef prices bump up this season’s forecast profit for sheep and beef farmers, according to Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) Mid-Season Update.

The milestone for lamb exports is predicted to be reached on the back of a forecast 14 per cent increase in average export value. Meanwhile, total beef export receipts, which passed the $3 billion mark in 2014 15, are expected to be $3.2 billion in 2017 18 – down 1.1 per cent. . . 

Iwi leader swaps corporate job to pick apples:

One of Hawke’s Bay’s most influential Iwi leaders has swapped his corporate job to pick apples this week as the industry faces one of the worst labour shortages in recent years.

In an attempt to get more locals picking apples, Chairman of Ngati Kahungunu, Ngahiwi Tomoana and his wife Mere are picking apples for three days for Bostock New Zealand and are calling on other members of their Iwi to join them.

“I just can’t sleep at night knowing that our delicious Hawke’s Bay apples could go to waste. The apple industry drives our economy and creates thousands of jobs for our Iwi. So we need to support our local growers, so the apples don’t rot on the trees. . . 

Govt deals body-blow to farmers and growers:

The Ardern-Peters Government has dealt a body-blow to farmers and growers in pandering to its mates in the Green Party and axing funding to irrigation projects, National Party spokesperson for Agriculture Nathan Guy says.

“Not only that, but it looks to me like it isn’t honouring its commitments to industries relying on these projects,” Mr Guy says.

“When they were first sworn in late last year, the new ministers received a briefing from Crown Irrigation outlining several projects that it had financial commitments to. . . 

Hurunui Water Project continues despite government funding ‘kick in thetTeeth’:

The Board and farmer-shareholders behind an on-plains storage based regional irrigation scheme are determined it will go ahead, despite the Government announcing that it will not provide further funding.

“Water is fundamental for our community – it’s the lifeblood of our region. As recent extended droughts have painfully shown, our livelihoods are tied to climate and the reliability of water supply,” said Hurunui Water Project (HWP) Chief Executive Chris Pile. . .

Govt’s irrigation cutback a blow but schemes to press on – Eric Frykberg:

A government move to cut back on irrigation has been called a kick in the teeth by a South Island water company fighting drought in an arid region.

The Hurunui Water Project is vowing to press on anyway, having already invested $10 million in a scheme to improve the water supply.

The government announced yesterday that it had begun winding down public funding for large-scale irrigation through the state agency, Crown Irrigation Investments Limited.

It said that was in line with its coalition and confidence and supply agreements. . . 

Silver Fern Farms’ result shows benefit of capital injection – Allan Barber:

Silver Fern Farms Limited has posted an improved annual result for its first year with its new Chinese partner, Shanghai Maling, which invested $260 million to acquire a 50% share of the meat processor and exporter. Revenue for the 2017 financial and calendar year, following the change in balance date from the traditional meat industry year to September, was on a par with 2016, but the NPAT of $15.4 million was a huge increase on the previous year’s $30.6 million loss, although not as good as the 2015 result of $24.6 million.

The declared result for Silver Fern Farms Cooperative was not nearly as good as it was for the operating company in which the cooperative now holds a 50% shareholding.  .  .

Meatco had planned note issue to raise $2.5M; liquidator left with 1.3 tons of frozen halal meat – Jonathan Underhill:

 (BusinessDesk) – Meatco, a New Zealand processor and exporter of halal sheep meat put into liquidation last month, had planned to raise capital through a convertible note issue to build a processing plant in Shannon in the lower North Island, the first of many, a strategy that was touted to boost earnings by 50 percent.

Instead, the three-year-old business was put into liquidation by a disgruntled creditor, Beirut-based Widriss Holding, a diversified food and commodity trader, “following a non-supply or refund of prepaid stock.” Meatco shareholder Michael Stacker and director and former shareholder Robin Bautista couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. . . 

Turning dirt into climate goals via carbon farming – Miriam Swaffer:

Having just returned from VERGE Hawaii: Asia Pacific Clean Energy Summit, I confidently can say Hawaii is awesome. Yes, the beaches are gorgeous. But what really got me excited is Hawaii’s climate leadership and the opportunity this creates for business.  

Hawaii’s lawmakers recognize both the grave threat of climate change and the economic opportunity to generate local clean power, as opposed to shipping oil thousands of miles to meet their needs.

Indeed, days after the U.S. government announced its intention to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, Hawaii was the first state to say “We Are Still In.” Within days, Hawaii Gov. David Ige went event further than the state’s 100 percent renewable portfolio standard by signing bills expanding the policy strategies and mechanisms to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.   . . 


Rural round-up

April 4, 2018

The future of everything: Why the third industrial revolution is a risk to NZ – John McCrone:

Who is Jeremy Rifkin and why does he have economists worried? After Europe and China, his message of disruptive change is now stirring interest in New Zealand. JOHN MCCRONE reports.

Artificial meat gets you thinking. If it is another exponential technology – a wave breaking over the world in the next five to 15 years – how can the New Zealand economy survive?

Auckland food futurist Dr Rosie Bosworth sounded the alarm bells at the Tipping Points conference, hosted by the Environmental Defence Society (EDS) last August.

Bosworth says lab-grown meat only got going in 2013 when a Dutch university start-up – funded by the wealth of Google’s Sergey Brin – managed to culture strips of beef muscle and produce a first hamburger patty.

Now there are a whole host of high tech start-ups flooding into the field, aiming to make artificial yet realistic everything, from chicken and fish, to milk and even leather, she says. . . 

State of Pass road upsets residents – Sally Rae:

Motorists travelling through the expansive tussock country of  Danseys Pass are drawn to the mountain  route for many reasons.

Often, says local woman Jo Todd, it is emotion that is behind the trip which links the Waitaki district to Central Otago.

“It’s an iconic road …  it’s on their bucket list. It’s a road that polarises people — people hate it or love it. People always have stories about the road.”

They shared those stories when they stopped at her lavender farm and shop and often conversations mentioned the state of the road.

Last  week, Mrs Todd and neighbour Mary Hore expressed disgust at the road’s condition on the Waitaki side of the pass. . .

Royal Easter Show shearing: Rowland Smith wins 40 in a row:

Hawke’s Bay shearer Rowland Smith’s domination of New Zealand’s world-class shearing elite continued when he had his 40th New Zealand finals win in a row at the Royal Easter Show in Auckland.

His successful defence of the Northern Shears Open title was his 44th win in 46 competitions in New Zealand in the last 15 months, during which the only deviations from the picket-fence form-line were a fourth placing at the Rotorua A and P Show on January 29 last year and a semi-final elimination at the Tauranga A and P Show on January 14 this year.

On Saturday he staved-off a bold challenge from Southland shearer Brett Roberts to win by half-a-point in a five-man final of 20 sheep each, decided mainly by the six seconds margin at the end and the quality of the sharing in the race, in front of the unique Auckland crowd mixing the normality for the farming and shearing community with the intrigue of the city dweller and the phone and camera waving tourist throng. . . 

Silver Fern Farms Co-op reports positive result, dividend and patronage reward:

Silver Fern Farms Co-operative has reported a net profit after tax (and before losses from discontinued operations) of $7.8 million for the 15 months ended 31 December 2017. After accounting for discontinued operations, the 15-month period was a net loss of $5.6m.

Silver Fern Farms Co-operative chairman Rob Hewett says the accounting result for the first period of the partnership has a high level of complexity to account for the changes in company structure over the period.

“We expected some complexity in reporting for this period as we account for the transition, and it does contain some abnormal factors related to the transaction which we will not see in future years. Firstly, the Co-operative has moved to a December year-end, which necessitates a 15-month result for this period. From now on we will have standard 12-month reporting periods. 

How Ireland is turning into a food processing giant – Catherine Cleary:

Move over Kerrygold butter – Ireland’s real food export success story is in unbranded food ingredients such as whey and vanilla

Here’s a small eureka moment in the Irish food world. The head of a large food company has had a long day in a conference room with executives from an Irish food ingredients giant. They finish with a grazing trip around the hottest cafes, restaurants and cocktail bars. In a bar, someone serves a Bloody Mary garnished with a piece of crispy bacon. He takes a sip, puts down the glass and declares: “Now that’s what I want my burger to taste like.”

It’s as far from the picture of Irish food as it gets but ingredients like a Bloody Mary bacon seasoning are an untold part of Ireland’s food story. If you dream it, there is a team of scientists in Irish labs that can probably make it happen. . .

The woman who rode Australia’s longest trekking route – a photo essay :

Alienor Le Gouvello travelled more than 5,000km with three wild horses and a dog. For her forthcoming book Wild at Heart, photographer Cat Vinton joined her for part of the journey to capture the beauty and isolation of a year-long trek through the Australian bush.

From a young age, Alienor Le Gouvello developed a passion for travelling and adventure. Her previous expeditions include a horseback trek in Mongolia at age 22 and a sidecar motorbike expedition from Siberia to Paris. Le Gouvello, originally from France, was working with an Indigenous community in Docker River near Uluru in the Australian central desert when she first discovered the existence of wild brumbies. In 2015, she embarked on her longest solo journey: 5,330km along the Bicentennial National trail, Australia’s longest trekking route, beginning in Healesville in Victoria and ending in Cooktown, Queensland, with just three wild horses and her dog for company. Since it opened in 1988, only 35 people have completed the trail. Le Gouvello is the second woman to complete the trip and the only person to have the same horses from beginning to end . . 


Rural round-up

March 19, 2018

We need a long cool look at water – Andrew Curtis:

As years go, 2017 was dramatic.

In February, one of the biggest fires in New Zealand history ignited on the Port Hills in tinder dry conditions, causing thousands of residents to evacuate.

In March, the upper North Island was soaked, with Auckland experiencing its wettest March day in 60 years, and over 300 homes were flooded.

July brought flooding to Otago and Canterbury, and snow and strong winds to other areas. . . 

Mix of farming, forestry, engineering keeps McKenzies busy – Sally Rae:

When it comes to thinking outside the square, it would be hard to look past the innovative McKenzie family from Clinton.

Colin McKenzie jokes they have a lot of junk around, but they are incredibly clever at turning that “junk” into all sorts of machinery.

As well as running a large sheep and beef operation, they also do their own forest harvesting, utilising some of their own home-made technology. . . 

Effluent technology set to lift dairy water efficiency – Jamie Thompson:

Nutrient efficiency is vital to Ravensdown as a component of smarter farming — good for the bottom line and the environment.

Water efficiency is now a catch-cry and the dairy sector is being urged to lessen its water ‘footprint’.

Crucial to this challenge is how effluent is managed. Recycling and reusing the nutrients in dairy shed effluent is good practice, showing that dairy farmers are doing the right thing. This comes with a price tag: 70% of dairy farmers’ environmental spending goes on effluent management (see graph). . .

Passion for dairy farming shows through for Canterbury environment award winners:

The Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards have been won by a dairy farming company showing a fantastic level of passion, pride and promotion for its industry. David and Brenda Hislop, Mark Daly and Janet Girvan are partners in Medbury Farm Limited – milking 1240 cows on 442ha at Hawarden.

The awards judges said the partners show strong awareness of farming practices and how they influence the environment. “They show excellent attention to detail to business planning, governance and policies and how that influences and drives the business, as well as great staff and people management.” . . 

Fonterra close to reaching Argentina deal :

Fonterra is close to reaching a deal with Argentina-based dairy co-operative SanCor, according a media report from Buenos Aires.

The Argentine newspaper La Nacion reported that Fonterra was anticipated to finalise a deal with SanCor by the end of this month.

La Nacion, in a translated report, said Fonterra and SanCor would form a new company, of which Fonterra would have 80 to 90 percent control. The remaining shares would stay with the dairy farmers in Argentina. . . 

Education doesn’t encourage creativity’ – Jill Galloway:

The education system does not value creativity enough, says a business commentator.

Chanelle O’Sullivan​ was one of five speakers at a creativity breakfast seminar, one of 10 events being held as part of the Manawatū-hosted Agri Food Week.

Described as an entrepreneur who founded the websites Rural Mums and Virtual Insights, O’Sullivan advised people to not rely on anyone else “as no one is coming to rescue you”. However, people should not feel ashamed of failing. . . 

Four candidates for Silver Fern Farms board :

Conor English, the youngest brother of former Prime Minister Bill English, is throwing his hat in the ring for election to the Silver Fern Farms board of directors.

English is the former chief executive of Federated Farmers who started his farming career at the family farm in Dipton. He is also chairman of Agribusiness New Zealand, a company he founded after leaving Federated Farmers in 2014.

Board members Fiona Hancox and Rob Hewett, and chairman, retire by rotation at the company’s annual meeting in Dunedin on April 18.

Four candidates have put themselves forward for the two available positions on the board. Hancox and Hewett have both advised they will stand for re-election, while nominations have been received for Chris Allen and English. . . 


Rural round-up

August 1, 2017

Mycoplasma bovis – Media Update Monday 31 July 2017:

A second dairy farm in South Canterbury that was already under biosecurity controls has today been confirmed as positive for the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.

This farm is linked to the initial property under investigation and is part of the 16 farm Van Leeuwen Dairy Group. The detection was not unexpected given close connections between the 2 farms.

MPI is today continuing sampling and testing for the disease on all farms in the enterprise, as well as neighbouring farms. . .

Business beats nostalgia for Elsthorpe sheep breeder Rick Lee – Kate Taylor:

Central Hawke’s Bay farmer has moved away from his dual purpose roots to breed stud sheep focused on meat production. He talks to Kate Taylor.

It’s hard to see the motorbikes from the mud as Rick Lee and his father Charlie pull up to the sheds on their Elsthorpe farm.

It is a wet winter after a dry summer, but there’s a smile on both faces under their woolly hats.

Charlie has been fixing something in the yards and Rick has checked the stock. A team of dogs have also done their duty for the morning and are tied up at the woolshed. It’s morning tea time. . .

Dairy with ‘pasture plus’ – Keith Woodford:

A key and consistent message over many years from DairyNZ to its 12,000 farmer members has been the importance of optimising the use of grass. Aligned to this, has been an ongoing negativity to non-pasture supplementation.

I know of no-one who disputes the ongoing importance of grass to the New Zealand dairy industry. However, there are many who would argue – and I am one of them – that DairyNZ has become blinkered to the opportunities that can arise from ‘pasture-plus’ dairy systems.

Ironically, despite the DairyNZ focus, there has been a steady drift by farmers to increasing use of supplement since the turn of the century, typically by matching stocking rate to peak pasture production and then feeding supplements in the shoulder seasons. . . .

Hamilton leaving SFF in strong position –  Dene Mackenzie:

Silver Fern Farms chief executive Dean Hamilton is leaving the meat processing group at the end of the year.
He made the announcement yesterday just days after saying SFF has never been in a stronger financial position.

He has been chief executive for three years.

Along with chairman Rob Hewett, Mr Hamilton helped drive the merger deal with Shanghai Maling, giving the Chinese company a 50% stake in the Dunedin-based SFF. . .

Milk ’em instead – Peter Burke:

Massey University sheep milking expert Craig Prichard’s fun exhibit at Fieldays — allowing site visitors to milk a sheep — had seriously optimistic intent.

Behind the fun was positive news about the rapidly growing sheep milk industry in NZ.

He noted that people have a sort of anxiety about food, prompting them to query its health properties and ponder whether it will make them feel better. People want to learn more about products made from sheep milk, Prichard says. . .

Dairy farmers warned to watch out for ergot – Nicole Sharp:

Three dairy farms in Southland and South Otago have been affected by ergot poisoning after feeding infected ryegrass to dairy cattle.

To date, only dairy cows had been affected but ergot poisoning can affect other animals.

Ergot is a naturally occurring fungus which can affect grains and grasses, and produces potent alkaloids poisonous to animals.

A Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) spokesman said ergot poisoning occurred sporadically when environmental conditions were suitable in New Zealand. . .

Dyes in poultry feed meet demand for bright yellow egg yolks – Amanda Cropp:

Kiwi consumers are crazy about vividly coloured egg yolks, but Asian customers of an egg exporter prefer a paler version.

The New Zealand Egg Producers Federation confirmed synthetic carotenoid food dyes, or more expensive natural ones made from marigold, turmeric or paprika extracts, were fed to both caged and free-range laying hens.

Federation technical advisor Kerry Mulqueen​ said many commercial egg farms used them because New Zealanders preferred brighter yellow yolks.

The diet of some free range hens also included the colour additive because they did not eat a lot of grass, he said. . .


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