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Innovation is key

Kiwis by nature and out of necessity, are known for their ingenuity. Innovation is turning a good, original idea that provides a new solution into a practical reality.

It is little wonder then that innovations have spearheaded New Zealand agriculture to help facilitate increased and better economic production from the land. Examples of this include Māori using small rock walls encircling kumara pits for better harnessing the sun’s heat, refrigerated shipments of meat from Dunedin, Gallagher’s 1930’s invention of electric fencing or genetic advancements with grass cultivars and sheep breeds such as Corriedale and Drysdale.

European early settlers brought livestock with them for milk, meat and fibre.

However, driven by economic reality and the necessity of intensification — the original dual-purpose cattle breeds are now uncommon, having been replaced by either separate specialty dairy or beef herds. The specialty breeds of today’s beef producers are Angus, white faced Hereford cross, Murray Grey or Wagyu for their preferable heavier yielding carcass weights. Galloway, Speckle Park, or Red Poll breeds may suit smaller blocks due to their quieter temperament, hardiness and smaller size.

Poultry layer production has also essentially doubled, meat chicken body size has increased four-fold, while housing styles and feeding practices have been revolutionised. Feeding a balanced diet containing critical key nutrients, especially minerals and vitamins in support of healthy birds, is now the ‘norm’. For egg layers NRM Peck ‘ N Lay Pellets or non-layers NRM Pullet Grower pellets are ideal feed choices. Strongly underpinning improved production are genetic advancements that often require premium feeds to sustain a bird’s increased body size and egg production, while still supporting optimal health.

Interestingly, although sheep numbers almost halved in the last 30 years, sheep meat productivity has stayed about the same, while using a third less land. How? Again genetics have primarily driven this increased efficiency, strongly aided by the importation of the highly prolific East Friesland and Finn dairy sheep breeds for improved milk production and better lamb growth rates, Texels for easy care lambing, lamb survivability and leaner meat production. Wiltshire and Dorper
self-shedding wool breeds eliminate shearing costs — which currently exceed the wool’s worth. However, good nutrition is still the key to increased productivity. Feeds like NRM Sheep Nuts or NRM Summer Dry Nuts are good options, as they deliver additional energy and essential minerals and vitamins that are needed to aid lamb survival, when fed pre-lamb.

Within the horticultural sector, a common innovative practice among orchardists and viticulturalists is the winter grazing of sheep underneath fruit trees. Be aware though, some orchard crop protection products can have extended withholding periods for sheep meat, milk or fibre products (and if a copper spray is used, this can be toxic to sheep). Finally, utilisation of longer rotation lengths provided by regenerative mixed-pasture species may reduce inputs while delivering key nutrients, boosting moisture retention and can boost profitability.

For more information, contact your Farmlands Technical Field Officer, or the friendly team at your local Farmlands store.

Article supplied by Tiffany Menzies, Technical Product Manager

1. Making meat better