Home' Otago Southland Farmer : September 21st 2012 Contents 18
with Juliet Selbie
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A Consortium of AgResearch Ltd and Beef + Lamb New Zealand
Ovita research into improving ewe efficiency is looking at how to predict adult
ewe liveweight and ewe longevity.
Ewe liveweight is an important component of feed efficiency, but is usually
predicted from weights taken early in the ewe's life.
AgResearch scientist Grant Shackell is working with several sheep breeders and
weighing sheep in their flocks, to investigate the relationship between mature
liveweight and lamb production at key times of the year. This information can then
be used to improve the accuracy of predicting SIL Breeding Values and production
At the same time, breeders are being encouraged to record why a ewe leaves
their flock on the SIL database -- be it for knowledge reasons such as the SIL
Index, or commercial reasons such as structural faults. This isn't something many
farmers currently do. Eventually, this information will be used to develop longevity
predictors for ewes. Breeders will then be able to assess the genetic merit of the
sires they produce, to improve the longevity of their daughters in commercial flocks.
"There are costs associated with replacing ewes in the flock, so obviously the
longer they are breeding, the more value they return to the breeder and farmer,"
This technology is a result of New Zealand farmer investment in Beef + Lamb
New Zealand and Ovita.
Contact Eleanor Linscott 03-477-0697 for more information, or visit www.ovita.co.nz
continues to pay tribute to the stone fruit and wool industries that form
the livelihood of this town and is acknowledged as the longest running
community event of its kind in New Zealand.
The first blossom festival began on Friday, 27 September 1957 and the
first attraction held as part of this was the Horticultural Society's spring
flower show. The next day saw the climax of the festival, with its "big
day" which was the beginnings of the now famous parade of floats
that heads down Alexandra's main street. In addition there was also
entertainment during and after the parade at Alexandra's Pioneer Park.
Fifty plus years on, the Blossom Festival continues to attract many
thousands of participants and many thousands of visitors each year with
more than 30 events planned over the celebrations to entertain people
of all ages.
Since the Festival's inception, the types of activities and exhibits have
varied from year to year but usually included such things as shearing
championships, music festivals, blossom drives, and musical productions
with exhibits ranging from art exhibitions to flower shows.
However the most anticipated showing of the festival continues to be
the annual parade and the beautiful floral floats made by various groups
and organisation and featuring the Festival princesses, who vie for the
title of festival Queen. These handmade floats are all a magical part of
this event and every year are joined by a wide range of other vehicles,
street entertainers, marching bands and horse-driven vehicles to make a
truly memorable display.
A particular highlight of the parade day are the additional attractions
which include carnival rides, children's Stage & circus entertainers, music
concerts, stalls, food and beverage tents and interactive games such as
After all, an event such as this wouldn't be complete without candyfloss,
hot chips and hot dogs, toffee apples and entertainment.
These are what help to make the special memories for people in the years
to come, and what brings families back year after year -- for many it has
become a family tradition to attend the Festival.
Other events have been added over time to expand and add interest to
the Blossom festival, some incorporating the unique features of the area.
Events such as the Race Around the Clock, an adrenalin-charged run,
swim, kayak, horse or mountain bike ride with the aim of conquering
the steep terrain and icy river which makes up the course to Alexandra's
unique, illuminated clock on the hill.
Today "Thunder" Sunday (drag racing), Garden Tours and the Wool On
Fashion Event (a fashion and design competition that encourages the
creative use of the high quality wool produced in Central Otago.) have
been included and really put the spotlight on this Central Otago town
which had its beginnings back in 1862 with gold and was named after
Princess Alexandra of Denmark.
It is events such as this, whether small or large, which are at the heart of
many rural communities.
The arrival of spring is celebrated in many ways, but nowhere else quite does
it in style like Central Otago with the annual Alexandra Blossom Festival
Alexandra is New Zealand's 'Blossom Town' and is famous as the home of the
historic annual Blossom Festival, which has steadfastly marked the arrrival of
spring in the region since 1957.
Today the event which is held every year on the 4th weekend of September,
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