23 October 2019
Welcome to the Fernvale update for 2019.
Well Mother Nature has not handed out any favors in the past 6-8 months for us here at Moa Flat! It started with a very dry autumn which saw us feeding out silage in April and meant that we had to try and flush 6000 commercial ewes and 3000 stud ewes on supplementary feed. Now we are dealing with another one of those late, cold springs. This has seen us lambing on less grass cover than we are comfortable with. In fact, we just fed our last load of silage to a mob of cattle last week, which is very late for us.
Lamb and Mutton
On a positive note, lamb and mutton is skyrocketing to levels we never dreamt of. Looking back to when Federated Farmers launched the T150 lamb campaign in 2008, farmers as an industry felt that it was an unrealistic goal for our meat. The concept behind the study was that the average commercial sheep operation required a minimum of $150 per lamb to be profitable.
While the T150 target was a stationery one, farm costs continued to increase. As Winston Churchill said, “This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end, but it is, perhaps the end of the beginning. And so it proved to be.
Despite the odd hiccup we have now arrived at prices that are not only high, but sustainable.
Despite the poor growth over the past 6 months, we have a top line of sires ready for their duties. This year’s terminals will be supplied with full SIL indexes and parentage. We have carried on with the side-sample micron testing and this information will be available with the Romney and Romdale sires.
We are extremely lucky to have the Whitecomb and Gem Lake run blocks for testing our own maternal genetics. This has allowed us to benchmark not only with ourselves, but with the rest of the industry. We have always had a target to wean 130% off the hard hill-country, this was achieved last season with 132% and it looks even better for this coming season.
This is understandably a sensitive subject with crossbred growers. This year we have enclosed a promotional booklet that Wools of New Zealand have launched to help educate the consumer and retailers on the attributes of wool. I commend the management of Wools of NZ for putting this informational marketing material together as this is the only quality example I have seen recently for the promotion of our fibre, finally someone is doing something!
If we as an industry do not collectively pull together and start promoting nature’s miracle fibre to a world that is hungry for anything sustainable and renewable, then we will continue to be price takers rather than price setters.
We continue to fine tune every part of the stud operation. We are now into our fifth season of using DNA profiling to determine parentage at tailing. As one of our key stud policies we want maternal genetics that will have our stud ewes naturally rearing and weaning multiple lambs without human assistance. One interesting discovery after adopting this policy, is that our lamb survival has increased from ewes being left to their own devices and not being constantly disturbed during lambing. This increase is especially noticeable in our younger stock.
All is busy at Fernvale in the lead up to ram selling with weather continually being a nuisance. Tailing and tractor work are the main focus at present.
Please ensure that you send the order form back promptly and add any new phone numbers (especially mobile phones) to this form when you return it to make it easier for us to contact you. The selling of ram hogget's is due to take place in the last week of November. Angela will be in contact closer to the time to sort your day and time for ram appointments.
We look forward to catching up with you shortly.
Lloyd and Ange