The family way

The Shersons know there is no place like home.

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  • A duty of care

    For farmers needing to get their health and safety programme under way, Anzco Foods has an option targeted directly for sheep and beef farmers. The meat processing company has selected 100 of their farmer suppliers through its onfarm health and safety resource folder. This sets farmers on the path to signing up their own farm policy and being compliant.

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  • Big tick for safety initiative

    Mark Chrystall has nothing but praise for his lamb buyer’s approach to farm health and safety. “ANZCO came to us to pilot a health and safety scheme for their farmer suppliers and I said I would definitely put my hand up.”

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  • Money too tight to mention

    Australia’s beef farmers have been getting the short end of the stick with farmgate prices for decades, farming leaders say. A report to a government inquiry showed farmgate prices have remained unchanged for the past decade. In real terms prices have fallen 30% while costs have increased 40% since 2001.

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  • Team work pays

    Farm ownership is still attainable if aspiring people are motivated, hardworking and prepared to make sacrifices. That was the overriding message at this year’s Keinzley Ag Vet Wairarapa Sheep and Beef Farm Business of the Year winners’ field day. A crowd of about 250 turned up recently to Lucy and Rob Thorneycroft’s farm, Benmore, at Tiraumea in northern Wairarapa. 

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Unique legacy retained

Last month Country-Wide featured well-known Canterbury farmer and businessman Gary Frazer. 

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  • Holiday on the doorstep

    Toko Mouth is a perfect, quick getaway spot for a South Otago farming couple because they don’t have to go anywhere. 

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  • Wool you believe it?

    An anti-wool campaign run by animal rights group PETA may well have done more harm than good to the group’s credibility.

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  • Cows safer than girls

    India’s western state of Maharashtra has introduced a ban on beef so strict that even possession could land you in jail for five years, media reports and the state’s chief minister have said.

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  • Mum’s the word

    Seems even the most isolated farming mums can now be connected through the Facebook page, Farming Mums NZ.

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Getting one’s goat

I will enter my seventh decade on the planet before May is out.

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  • A solid foundation

    We have had a feeling of deja vu lately because Suzanne and I – along with our son-in-law Aaron the builder, our son Travis and his girl Julie – have been working long hours to complete a new house on the farm.

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  • Staring down the barrel

    It seems waiting for rain is just like waiting for industry change. What is promised and what is delivered are very different and when it does finally arrive it is often too late to bring the required results to turn things around. 

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  • Let the games begin

    For many of you hard-working farmers it might seem as though we students are constantly enjoying summer holidays, mid-semester breaks, long weekends and mid-year vacations. Unfortunately at some stage we do have to head back to uni for a spot of study. 

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  • Leading from the front

    The success of any organisation, industry or movement is often defined by the quality of its leader. Bookshelves around the country must be jam-packed full of literary nonsense that claim to be able to teach you the skills required to achieve such a status in a matter of months. It is an age-old debate about what makes a good leader, a debate that can be summarised into two schools of thought. 

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One-man band fine-tunes farm

Being essentially the sole labour unit, Simon Davies is a busy man on his and wife Joanna’s Toko Mouth farm near Milton in South Otago. Terry Brosnahan paid this enterprising couple a visit.

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  • A fair share

    Gemma Barham is thankful for every day she doesn’t have to get up at 3am. Gemma’s husband Mathew went milking cows his first summer out of university, progressing to manager then lower order sharemilker. Gemma joined him in the dairy six years later. It was hard work, milking up to 3500 cows through two dairies at their peak.

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  • Focusing on cow fertility

    The view from David and Gael Williams’ kitchen window looks straight into the 2500ha of hill country on which Te Puni, the family’s sheep and beef farm business is based. The highest point on the farm rises to 915m and only 150-200ha is cultivatable by brave tractor driver David. The farm’s 40ha of flat land is K-line irrigated.

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  • Dodging a bullet

    I was interested to read a recent Australian Meat and Livestock Association report on a study claiming typical farm working dogs can yield a producer a fivefold return on investment, netting an average value of $40,000 over 10 years. 

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  • Size is everything

    My last two columns have examined how adult size impacts on the rate at which animals do things and their lifespan and also how tissue proportions change as animals grow from birth to maturity. This final article considers how this all fits together and what it tells us about mammalian biology.

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Ahead of the curve

North Canterbury sheep farmers Tim and Jen Le Pine have used their local Sheep for Profit Partnership programme to turn raw data into improved results. 

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  • Keeping score during drought

    With rain falling in many parched areas around New Zealand the focus is now on autumn pastures and animal nutrition. Country-Wide writers investigate the options.

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  • Topping up the tank

    Livestock have been the number one priority this summer in areas suffering from dry or drought conditions throughout New Zealand. 

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  • Getting the green light

    Autumn can be a time of good growth rates and high quality feed, assuming frosts do not hit too early.

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  • Autumn growing pains

    Many farmers are facing the nightmare scenario of tight autumn feed supplies and cold, short days closing in.

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Assaying late summer grazing

Maize is becoming an increasingly popular greenfeed crop for beef and dairy cattle in dryland areas of New Zealand. Fed in February when the cob is just starting to develop, the crop offers a bulk of feed at a time of year when there is often no other greenfeed available.

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  • Doing a double take

    It seems two bites of the cherry are possible. Lincoln University research is showing that dual-purpose crops may have real grazing potential as well as other benefits. Sandra Taylor reports.

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  • Autumn-sown cereal an option

    Autumn-sown whole crop cereal silage offers growers a high yielding, low-cost crop option along with the ability to maximise returns on a per-hectare basis.

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  • Keeping score

    The need for farmers to keep detailed farm records was reiterated at the recent FAR annual results round-up. FAR chief executive Nick Pyke outlined a draft of Good Management Practices for the arable industry as required by Environment Canterbury’s Matrix of Good Management project. While these are yet to be made public what was apparent was the need for farmers to maintain accurate and auditable farm records.

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  • Twenty years in the growing

    This year the Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) is celebrating 20 years of providing practical research for arable farmers. Started in 1995, the levy-funded organisation has been at the forefront of research and extension across a broad range of grain and seed crops in New Zealand and Australia.

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An unbeatable track record

Gary Frazer is a name many people in farming and machinery circles know well. He was the first-ever New Zealand Young Farmer of the Year in 1969 and has gone on to be a successful businessman and integral member of the NZ Vintage Machinery Club. He lives in Marshlands, Christchurch with wife Janet.

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  • Tick it to ride

    Thinking of buying a new tractor? Deals abound at this time of year so keeping a few pointers in mind can help with the decision-making process. Field day season means farmers are offered machinery deals that can at times seem too good to be true. Pencils are sharpened and sales reps busy trying to lock in sales.

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  • Set in motion

    A traditional reciprocating internal combustion engine uses valves to control air and fuel flow into and out of the cylinders, enabling combustion. Quintin Boyd and James Hoban explain the mechanics.

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  • History gets parked up

    I’ve driven from Mosgiel to Outram on State Highway 87 many times and yet I never really took much notice of the old buildings sitting above the Outram Bridge which spans the Taieri River. Turn off the highway at the George King Memorial Dr signpost and take a step back in time at the Taieri Historical Society and the Otago Vintage Machinery Club’s shared historical park.

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  • Big wheels rolling

    "It’s a labour of love really.” 

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Wet winter soils limit cattle

Central Hawke’s Bay farmer Alastair Ormond wishes he could run more cattle on his award-winning farm. A big zone of heavy Atua soils through the centre of Te Umuopua limits winter cattle grazing on the Hatuma farm.

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  • The good dirt

    I wonder how many readers are aware 2015 has been declared The Year of Soils by the United Nations. You are excused if you missed this one. The Government and New Zealand research institutes have shown little interest although I gather the NZ Society of Soil Science has plans. 

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  • Plenty of scope in the Bay

    In my last column Otago Regional Council’s water quality rules came under the spotlight. This time the focus is on what Bay of Plenty Regional Council is doing to manage water quality.

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  • Testing farmers’ limits

    North Canterbury Federated Farmers president Lynda Murchison recently told an environment conference for farmers they needed to be more involved.

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  • The ‘good’ wood?

    Wood-quality problems with New Zealand’s radiata pine are not exactly breaking news. Rather it is a long-standing saga that shows no sign of disappearing any time soon. 

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Closing the gate

Increasingly our email inboxes are full of clutter. You buy something in a shop or online, donate to charity or enter a running race and get signed up to an email list. 

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  • Avoiding a pup

    I contribute to a weekly technology-problem solving clinic. A recent visitor brought along a laptop that was practically unusable. It had what I call “crapware” that had taken over his machine – more on cleaning your computer of crapware plus how to prevent it getting on to your machine at the end of this article.

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  • With villainous intent

    Malware – short for malicious software – is a programme created to disrupt a computer’s operation, or to gather sensitive information such as passwords or credit card details. This software has a malicious intent because it functions only to create havoc for the computer or device’s owner. 

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  • Watching your health

    About 10 years ago I was very excited to buy a device that used global positioning systems (GPS) to measure how far I ran. The Navman R300, which cost about $800, was like wearing a large ashtray on my arm. It was more than 2.5cm deep and weighed well over half a kilogram. It would lose the GPS signal under large trees or around tall buildings.

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  • Watch this space

    It’s almost two years since I first wrote about alternatives to watching “regular” television as New Zealand converted to digital broadcasting. It’s fascinating to see how much the landscape has now changed.

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All hail the chief

Farming isn’t quite enough to keep John Foote busy. He’s also a firefighter, school bus driver and swimming pool technician in the small Otago town of Middlemarch. Words and photos by John Cosgrove.

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  • Toast of the coast

    A rare opportunity to tour iconic North Island east coast hill-country sheep and beef station Tautane drew a large crowd to the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Pongaroa Big Day Out recently.

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  • Striking gold

    After a fortnight in March in Abel Tasman National Park I’m already planning my next visit to this unique area – unique because of the combination of environment, access and options for holidaymakers.

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  • A well-spun yarn

    *The Farm at Black Hills* – Farming alone in the hills of North Canterbury, by Beverley Forrester with John McCrystal, Random House NZ, $39.95

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  • Searching for Love

    Having a Plan B, C or even D waiting in the wings makes it all happen for 27-year-old Braidy Love, a dairy farmer at Waihola, south of Dunedin.

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Back on track

Alistair Robbie and Jane Duthie’s South Otago deer operation has been through some tough times in recent years. However, with a new double dose drenching strategy and the introduction of cattle the wheels are turning again. Lynda Gray reports.

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  • Face to face over drought measures

    The Next Generation Deer Farmers Facebook page has proved to be a good forum for sharing pre- and post-weaning drought strategies.

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  • Time up for withholding period

    A research project is under way to vindicate reduction in the withholding period for the industry-recommended drench treatment for internal parasites in deer.

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  • Advancing the cause

    Being part of a Deer Industry Advance Party group has been a great experience for Tony and Lynda Gray, who jumped at the opportunity to join in.

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  • Skilled and streamlined

    At Alliance Group’s Makarewa venison plant the processing of deer is a streamlined operation employing about 55 skilled people during the peak November to February season. The time taken from animal delivery to chilled or frozen venison product dispatch is three days. Photo special by Lynda Gray.

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Nervous wait on backlogs

The United States’ emergence from its economic slumber looks certain to rev up beef prices again this year. First though, large inventories built up during last year’s ports strike will need to be worked through. 

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  • Farmer equity drops

    Falling Australian land values have hit farmers’ equity. The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) has reported most regions’ land values peaked in 2008 then declined to 2014. This was because of cautious buyers, tighter bank lending and reduced farm profitability as a result of drought and low beef cattle prices.

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  • Debt burden hard to bear

    Northern Australia’s beef industry is in an unviable position and cannot climb over a mountain of debt, a farming leader says. Australian Beef Association director and farmer Athol Economou said after 15 years of static prices, rising costs, drought and huge debt the industry is in tatters. Submissions to government last year said the Northern industry’s debt levels were unlikely to be paid off.

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  • Food safety lessons learnt

    It was only one cow among 5.5 million cattle but it took the Canadian beef industry 10 years to recover from the May 2003 discovery she was infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

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  • Looming toll from tariff cuts

    Under orders from Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to fulfil a promise he made during the most recent federal election, the country’s trade negotiators went on the charge last year completing trade deals with Japan, South Korea and China. 

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Hunger grows for sheep meat

Without a doubt it is the ramp-up in China’s hunger for New Zealand sheep meat that dominates the dynamics of the industry today. 

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  • Time to share the NZ story

    As one of five 2014 Nuffield New Zealand scholars I’m on an international study tour to broaden my understanding of global agriculture and trade. The knowledge I’m gathering will ultimately be shared with my fellow Kiwi farmers.

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  • Unbeetable potential

    Last season’s dry forced a Manawatu farmer to rethink the planned use of his fodder beet crop. The result was an unexpected lamb finishing strategy.

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  • Puberty under the microscope

    The effect of puberty on reproductive performance and improving embryo survival are just two of the sheep-related projects being undertaken by the AgResearch Animal Reproduction team at Invermay.

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  • Scope for beet in sheep systems

    The uptake of fodder beet in the South Island has been fierce.

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Top two inches the key

It is often said that New Zealand’s fortune lies in its top two inches of soil.

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Rising to the top

One of the country’s leading equestrian bloodstock farms is on the market. Milan Park is a 20 hectare property on the banks of Waikato River, just five minutes west of New Zealand’s equine capital, Cambridge, and 22km from Hamilton.

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  • Hard work already done

    Mason Hills, a large North Canterbury sheep and cattle breeding property is for sale by auction. The 2542 hectare farm has been subject to a substantial recent improvement programme.

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  • Dry sees farms withdrawn

    At least five South Canterbury farms that were on the market in 2014 were temporarily withdrawn pre-Christmas. The main reason cited was the poor appearance of the farms with low pasture covers and struggling crops.

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  • Fewer Southland farm sales

    A large-scale property in Southland has been sold to a Canterbury farmer with cropping interests. About 1000 hectares of the 2583ha area was sold with the intention of using it for grain production as well as dairy grazing and lamb finishing. The balance is oversown and native tussock land.

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  • Grazing and finishing farm with options

    Mt Mason, an attractive hill-country farm in the Tararua district – an area renowned for its high quality meat and wool products – is now for sale.

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Beef feed blend ups magnesium

A new magnesium-rich feed blend has been created to help beef farmers in the fight against hypomagnesaemia and milk fever.

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  • Irricon template gets ECan tick

    Environment Canterbury (ECan) has approved another farm environment plan template under the proposed Land & Water Regional Plan. The template was developed by environmental consultants Irricon Resource Solutions.

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  • Get a fuel tax refund

     Everyone pays tax in some form. Sometimes it’s obvious like income tax. Sometimes it’s hidden – like tax on petrol. 

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  • Creep feeding trial whets appetite

    Startling results from a recent creep feeding trial that showed lambs grew up to 25% faster than the study’s control group are now available from Advantage Feeders.

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  • Data-proofing ram performance

    Having a good eye when buying rams may well be a thing of the past if a new study shows it’s the data behind the ram’s breeding that delivers profit.

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