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Salers Newsletter Winter 2018
As I write this, icy showers are blowing through, and polar winds are predominating…which emphasizes how lucky we were, with our Winter Tour weather!
Firstly - news roundup… Congratulations to the Cameron family team @Ngaputahi, with a great Angus bull sale, plus forward orders for Salers bulls… Panikau Station,along with Tolaga Bay and much of Whangara, took a hit with the storms and extreme rainfall; Mike and Cushla escaped to join us on tour, but have many fences to rebuild on their return…
The Tour…
All had reached Waiuku in time for dinner at The Shires on Saturday evening - with a quick dash back to The Kentish Hotel, for the rugby test on the big screen… A dramatic thunderstorm overhead made for patchy reception, but, most of the test was seen… Sunday morning dawned clear and sunny.. just what we needed for viewing the Awhitu lighthouse, and surrounding harbour, Tasman sea, Auckland city, and farmland… Awhitu Lighthouse Trust leader, Bruce Russell, guided the tour.
Awhitu Lighthouse
Next stop – the Popup café at the Beach Club, Big Bay took care of morning coffee and tea; on to One Black Sheep, a boutique sheep milking operation, being established by two ex Manawatu folk, Colleen Mayne, and Trevor Weir. Based on East Freisian ewes, the current focus is on refining sheeps’ milk icecream, so all had the opportunity to try the latest flavours - plum, strawberry, and vanilla…
Colleen Mayne
On to the Kohekohe Salers, with the cattlemen viewing the assembled herd. Late lunch, then a run out to the West Coast, viewing sand country farming - ie. exposed coastal country, kikuyu growing on sand. A quick visit to the black sand beach, then a cuppa at the Barracks bach; then, on to the serious business of the Tour, AGM and Dinner at the Kentish. (minutes attached). The existing Council are still in place, with a council conference required, to re-establish the Executive.
Monday morning - all out awaiting the bus in good time, cooler and overcast, but ok for a bus bound day… We were joined by Ag/Hort/Science teacher Jane Patterson from Waiuku College, and five of her keenest students; first stop - Hinemoa vegetable growers at Pukekawa. A Balance Environmental Award winning property, managers Chris and Vikki Nicholson gave us a great tour of the sorting, storing and growing areas of their 800 acre farm. Main crops-tractors (21!) onions and potatoes, with drystock farming on the gullies, and native bush fenced off. Silt traps allow runoff soils to be returned to production; runoff water, and all roof water, is captured for irrigation - which allows for up to 50% better production. The 21 tractors are not a sign of advanced metal disease-they are set up,ready to be utilized when weather and soil conditions are ideal. My main question - why are the favourite Agria potatoes the most expensive - had a logical answer - they are lower yielding,a nd more tricky to grow…. Vikki had organized an Ag/Ito coordinator to catch up with the students, so they had piles of leaflets as well as plenty of information to digest…

Onwards to Waikaretu, to join Kate Broadbent, and her Nikau Coopworth hoggets. Kate gave us a mile-a-minute story of her farming life, and her work with the Coopworth breed. Breeding for Facial Eczema resistance was already under way when Kate bought the flock. Increasing the FE challenge (grazing the paddocks with the highest score counts); and, adding selection for worm resistance (entailing faecal egg counting, on up to 600 sheep…) has lead to great demand for Nikau rams.Running a selection of ewe hoggets through the weigh pen showed the data on the electronic eartags (Shearwell), easily read on the screen.. everything from pedigree to complete history of treatments, weighings, etc.. an eye opener for the students in our midst. A lovely fresh, great value lunch at the Woodwards’ Nikau Café, and on to the last leg of our tour - Limestone Downs Station. Overshooting the entrance gave us an extra run through spectacular limestone valleys, and winding roads (great driving from Chrissy, a 42 seater bus not the ideal vehicle for this district…) Dr.Rebecca Hickson, of Massey University, outlined the project trialling Dairy Beef bulls on the Limestone dairy herd. This trial is focused on low birthweight /short gestation Angus and Hereford bulls (a further trial with a Landcorp/Pamu dairy unit will trial eight breeds, including three exotics.) The object of the trials - to reduce the use of Jersey bulls on dairy heifers, with the resulting calves being destined for slaughter as bobbies; and increase the production of high value dairy beef animals; without calving stress on first calving heifers. The current trial, which has tracked the calves, reared at Limestone Downs; recording birthweights; 200, 400 and 600 day weights - is close to completion, with the rising two year old progeny close to slaughter, beef yields being the final measure of the bulls’ worth…
A run home via Port Waikato, following the Waikato River to the famous Tuakau Bridge - Forbes and Christine headed south, we retuned to Waiuku, one more pub meal, and another tour over… 2019 will see us head South - probably back to an Autumn date…
Our condolences to Karen, Bruce, Sheryl, and the whole Willow Creek team, on the recent loss of David. Here are two photos from the Pukekohe A& P, where the Willow Creek team took out another Meat and Wool Cup.
David, still showing 4 year old bulls
Whisky, winning again
Watch this space…. Seven of us are booked up and getting organized for our trip to France, for the International tour, taking in Paris, Salers, Vichy, and Clermond Ferrand / 2018 Sommet, with Salers as the feature breed…
Thanks to Maxine Gerke, and Cushla Murphy, for the photographs.
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