Rural roundup

May 27, 2018

Vet answers pressing Mycoplasma bovis questions:

Trying to stop the spread of Mycoplasma bovis can be a complicated process, with some confusion around winter grazing and Gypsy Day, where stock is moved between farms.

Central-Southland vet Mark Bryan spoke to The Country’s Jamie Mackay and Andy Thompson in a bid to answer some questions surrounding Mycoplasma bovis.

What happens if you send animals away to grazing and while they’re there some other animals are classed as infected? Do your animals become infected and can you bring them back home?

Bryan says farms that are under restriction, (Infected Properties (IPs), Restricted Place (RP) and Notices of Direction (NOD), can only move to other restricted farms. . . 

MPI ‘slow, uncoordinated’, under-prepared in M bovis response:

One of the owners of the South Canterbury farm where Mycoplasma bovis was first found says MPI has been slow, uncoordinated and under-prepared in its response to the disease.

Wilma Van Leuuwen said she knew the farmer who managed the Waikato farm where the disease was found in December.

“It was traced to them, up there in Cambridge in December, and nobody came on the farm to do testing straight away.

“That person was able to trade stock or do whatever he wished until February when they locked him down and started doing the testing – and they didn’t even notify it until May that he was positive. It’s rather slow.”

Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) was never prepared to manage the disease, and would never have enough staff to cope with it now it had spread throughout the country, she said. . .

‘M. bovis’ outbreak devastates couple’s life – Sally Rae:

Thousands of cattle have been slaughtered because of Mycoplasma bovis, but there has also been a very real human cost.

Until Wednesday, former Van Leeuwen Dairy Group (VLDG) sharemilkers Sarel and Mary Potgieter were living in a leaking caravan in Australia.

They had been forced to sell anything they could, including household items, to pay debts, and both were now taking anti-depressants, Mrs Potgieter said.

They also had the “heartbreaking” sight of watching the cattle in their charge dispatched for slaughter, including pet cows.

“On the last day, myself and Sarel could not face it. But the worst was the newborn calves that MPI [Ministry for Primary Industries] instructed pet foods to shoot and slit their throats,” Mrs Potgieter said. . . 

Infected farm’s use of distant vet concerns– Sally Rae:

The New Zealand Veterinary Association has expressed concern over the use of distance veterinary services in light of news the farm at the centre of the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak was using a vet clinic about 1600km away.

It is understood Southern Centre Dairies in Southland, owned by Alfons and Gea Zeestraten, which is believed to be the first farm infected, has been using a Waiheke Island-based vet clinic.

Vets on Waiheke manager Stephen Gilmore confirmed to RNZ’s Checkpoint programme that his wife Alexandra was the vet responsible for the Zeestraten herd, and had been for two years, and that they tried to make six-monthly visits to the dairy farming operation.

In a statement, NZVA president Peter Blaikie said the association did not know the details and could not comment on the specific situation. . . 

Mycoplasma bovis: do we need to go so fast and should the North and South Islands be managed separately? – Keith Woodford:

[This is a letter that I sent today (25 May 2018)  to the Minister of Agriculture, Damien O’Connor]

Honourable Damien O’Connor
Minister of Agriculture 

Greetings Damien

Mycoplasma bovis

I am writing this to you because of the huge decision that Government has to make on Monday. It is an open letter, because there are issues which all New Zealanders need to be informed of.

In a perfect world, we would all hope for eradication of Mycoplasma bovis. But the world is not perfect, and there are no good solutions. Unfortunately, there are real risks that an ongoing policy of eradication is one where the medicine is worse than the disease.

I have been following developments since the first identification of an infection, this being the Tainui property owned by the Van Leeuwen Group and share-farmed by Mary and Sarel Potgieter. I contacted the Van Leeuwens at that time, and I have written about Mycoplasma on six occasions since then (at my own website  . . 

‘Your support brought me to tears’: Glen Herud on life after his Happy Cow story went viral – Glen Herud:

His company has been liquidated, his mobile milking shed sold for a song. But Glen Herud is not giving up on his ethical milk mission.

Last month, we hit the wall and shut the doors – but our customers encouraged us to go on.

I founded the Happy Cow Milk Company in 2012, and my mission was to create a more ethical and sustainable diary model.

In April, I faced the hard reality that I couldn’t do it. I was out of money and out of energy. But when I announced I was shutting down, something amazing happened; this passionate community of supporters told me not to give up. . . 

 

We should value our workers, says 2018’s Central Otago Young Fruit Grower:

Hamish Daring from Moorpark and Mulberry Orchard, Cromwell has been named Central Otago Young Fruit Grower of the Year, following a day of intense competition in Cromwell today.

The competition saw six of the region’s top young orchardists engage in a series of challenges designed to test the skills needed to successfully run a thriving fruit-growing business. Events included tractor maintenance, pest and disease identification, and first aid.

Hamish, 21, is a third generation horticulturist who cut his teeth helping set up Moorpark and Mulberry Orchard, just north of Cromwell, in the summer of 2012/13.  . . 

NZ Meat Board chases higher returns from $70M of funds now held in term deposits – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – The New Zealand Meat Board will increase the risk profile of its $70 million of reserve funds, adding shares to what is now mainly held in term deposits in a bid to lift returns.

The shift to a balanced portfolio is aiming to achieve a return of at least 3.3 percent “after all investment, funds management and custodial costs, inflation and any tax drag” are deducted. It generated interest income of $2.3 million in 2017, a yield of 2.95 percent, according to its annual report. . . 


Rural round-up

February 25, 2018

M. bovis progarmme being speeded up – Sally Rae:

The Ministry for Primary Industries is accelerating its tracing and surveillance programme so a decision whether to proceed with Mycoplasma bovis eradication can be made as soon as possible.

It has urged any dairy and beef farmers who believe they may have animals at high risk of infection to make contact immediately.

”Right now, we need to hear from any farmers who have bought cows and calves or milk for calf feed from farms that have been publicly identified as infected. If these farmers haven’t already heard from us through our tracing work, we would dearly like to hear from them,” director of response Geoff Gwyn said.

The MPI was particularly interested to hear from those who had received cattle or calves from Southland-based Southern Centre Dairies Ltd at any time after January 1, 2016, and had not already been contacted by the MPI. . . 

Swede seed mix up in ‘human error’ leaves farmers with wrong variety – Brittany Pickett:

A “human error” in seed deliveries across much of the country has resulted in hundreds of farmers planting the wrong variety of swedes on their properties.  

PGG Wrightson Seeds has alerted farmers who bought the new seed variety, Hawkestone yellow-fleshed Cleancrop swede, that a different line of white-fleshed swede, HT-S57, had been distributed to customers instead.

HT-S57 swede was phased out in 2016 and replaced with the Hawkestone swede variety.

However, the HT-S57 seed was distributed to farmers for planting for winter feed instead of the new Hawkestone swede variety. The company said in a statement that the mistake was caused by human error.. . .

Demand leaves NZ livestock numbers low – Sally Rae:

Livestock numbers available for processing over the rest of the season are lower than in any of the previous five seasons, a forecast by Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Economic Service shows.

Dry conditions and strong prices for lamb, mutton and beef in the December quarter drove high processing volumes.

The average values per tonne for lamb, mutton and beef exports were at record or near record levels in the December quarter, the forecast says.

The total number of lambs available for processing in 2017-18 was forecast to be up 1.3% on the previous season. . . 

Opotiki kiwifruit growers win BOP Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Kiwifruit growers Mark and Catriona White and their Coastal Kiwis orchard have won the Bay of Plenty Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Ten years ago, the couple embarked on a quest to find an improved lifestyle for their family away from the city and found it on a bare block of land near Opotiki.

Their work and passion have transformed part of an organic dairy farm into the successful 5.85ha orchard it is today, the Awards judges said. . . 

Rotorua and Hokitika farmers named as finalists for Māori excellence in farming award:

Two dairy farming operations are the finalists in the Ahuwhenua Trophy BNZ Māori Excellence in Farming Award.

They are Rotorua’s Onuku Māori Lands’ Trust and the Proprietors of Mawhera Incorporation (Hokitika).

The Onuku Māori Lands Trust’s Boundary Road Farm is a 72 hectare block near Lake Rotomahana, about 30 kilometres south of Rotorua. The farm milks 220 cows which produce about 90,000kg of milk solids. The trust  consists of four dairy farms, a drystock farm, forestry, natural reserves and a manuka plantation.  Onuku has also developed outside the farm gates, starting an export honey business called Onuku Honey. . . 

New beef product on the cards – Hugh Stringleman:

Fast-growing dairy-beef steers slaughtered at about 12 months of age could be the basis of a new-generation beef product range.

Rearing those cattle for the beef industry could address some of the concerns in the rural-urban divide about the two million annual bobby calf slaughter, Massey University researcher Nicola Schreurs said.

The short growing period to maximise growth efficiency should also help address concerns about beef’s high environmental footprint, a consequence of the animals’ two- or three-year life.

She told farmers at the annual Limestone Downs field day in northern Waikato about a  pilot study at Massey’s Keebles Farm where 80 Hereford-Kiwicross steers are being fast-tracked. . . 

 

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Rural round-up

February 17, 2018

Disease has two hubs – Annette Scott:

Cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis has been in New Zealand for at least two years and is spread wider than first thought, Southland veterinary clinic Vet South says while Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor says there are now two infection hubs.

The Winton practice sent an email to clients on Thursday urging people whose stock or properties might have been linked to Southern Centre Dairies to come forward.

Southern Centre Dairies, the hub of infected properties in Southland, is owned by Gea and Alfons Zeestraten.

Vet South director veterinarian Georgette Wouda said Ministry for Primary Industries surveillance work indicated the disease was limited to a relatively small group of farms but more needed to be known.

“Down in our region all of the infected properties to date have links with Alfons Zeestraten’s farms. . .

Lamb and wool marketers confident – Sally Rae:

Farmers visiting Alliance Group’s tent at the Southern Field Days had mostly one burning question — how long could lamb prices be sustained.

And the response? “We feel market fundamentals around the world give us some confidence,” chairman Murray Taggart said.

The North Canterbury farmer acknowledged that his position was a “bit easier” than what it was when he first took on the role.

The mood among farmers was “pretty positive” and, despite climatic conditions, he was “really chuffed” with market prices.

“You’ve done a bloody good job,” a long-time shareholder told Mr Taggart on the way past, but Mr Taggart said the company was not resting on its laurels. . . 

Momentum grows in understanding of farming, farmers – Sally Rae:

Federated Farmers national president Katie Milne believes there is real momentum building for farming — “and in the right way”.

The straight-talking West Coast dairy farmer — who last year broke a 118-year history of male leadership of the rural lobby organisation — has been at the Southern Field Days in Waimumu this week.

Joking that she had left her partner unsupervised around the many machinery sites, she helped a Federated Farmers team to victory over FMG in a tug-o-war competition.

Ms Milne, who is known for her down-to-earth and no-nonsense approach,  said the leadership role was “really exciting” and it was a privilege to be a voice for farmers. While she knew it was a big job, it had surprised her the places that she ended up and the people she had met.

It had been somewhat of a baptism by fire, with the general election  being held straight after she came into the role. . . 

Honey season better but patchy – Richard Rennie:

With parts of Northland and Bay of Plenty grappling with major rainfall while parts of Taranaki and Otago remain parched, honey producers are reporting mixed results for the season’s honey collection.

Comvita, one of the country’s largest honey producers, has already informed investors this season has been a successful one, largely thanks to more favourable conditions in December and January. 

However, severe weather in early January hit Northland and Waikato hard at a critical flowering period, pushing yields down towards a more average season.

Comvita chief executive Scott Coulter told investors if the above-normal temperatures remain for the rest of this summer, Wairarapa, Whanganui, East Coast and Hawke’s Bay are expected to have an above average season. . . 

Big toy has price tag to match – Sally Rae:

If you’ve got a spare $625,000 sitting in the wallet, then a Fendt 1050 tractor could be just the ticket.

The world’s largest conventional tractor was attracting plenty of interest at JJ Ltd’s site at the Southern Field Days.

There are only three of the 500hp tractors — described by JJ’s staff as being in a “class of its own” — in New Zealand, two demonstrator models and one that had been bought by a North Island contractor. . . 

NZ Well Positioned to be global player in alternative protein market – producer:

Eco conscious millennial consumers are reshaping demand for alternative sources of protein according to the country’s largest manufacturer of vegetarian foods.

Mark Roper spokesperson for Life Health Foods – which makes plant based Bean Supreme and recently launched Alternative Meat Co. products, says growing concern for the environment is leading this demographic to seek out other options to integrate into their diet.

A nationwide survey commissioned by the company has found that millennials aged 18-34 are the most likely demographic to adopt a mostly meat-free lifestyle in the next decade. . . 


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