Home' Otago Southland Farmer : October 5th 2012 Contents 5.10.12 Farmer
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Cowmattress being installed
Established 57 years ago as canvas makers and Saddlers, Sweetmans
Limited has experienced significant growth over the years, in particular
with the invention of the Hoofmat in 1995.
Utilised in the dairy industry, the Hoofmat is essentially a fabric-covered
sponge for cows to walk on and is especially suitable for treatment of
lameness in dairy cows, such as hairy wart, strawberry foot and hoofrot.
The Hoofmat has proven a real success and is now exported
all over the world. Through Sweetmans experience in geotextile fabric,
they now would like to make a further contribution to the dairy industry,
through the supply of cow mattresses to wintering barns in the lower part
of the South Island.
The company has been to Europe and the UK and viewed a number
of farms fitted with the Tencate-fabric mattress. Some are being
used all year round and in good repair considering they
have been utilised for over five years.
Sweetmans are the New Zealand distributors of Tencate Industrial Fabrics,
who manufacture the Tencate Topcover. They are the only provider of a
woven textile fabric who give a ten year warranty
on their product. The company have been using a very similar
product from them for 12 years and have found it an extremely
hard wearing product and can testify to its longevity.
A growing industry, the cow mattress is a popular addition to dairy farms
globally and there are a wide variety of options available. Sweetmans
believe, however, that they are the only company
who have installed sample systems for farmers to view. A kind
farmer in Southland has allowed the company to install around
30 bails for inspection at a convenient time for potential customers.
For more information or an appointment to view, contact the experienced,
professional team at Sweetmans Limited today.
Straw bales a winner for lodge build
The Southland Energy Conference last week put its
focus on sustainable and energy-efficient
buildings. Southland Times reporter Alex Fensome
takes a look at two of the most energy efficient
buildings in Southland.
THE HOUSE THAT DAVE BUILT
Solid site: Dave Lawrence and Donna Day outside their straw bale luxury retreat, Tikana Lodge, at Browns, near Winton.
Better than batts: Tikana Lodge with
its thick straw bale walls which
provide plenty of insulation..
When Dave Lawrence told his
mates he was going to build a five-
star guest house out of straw, they
laughed at him.
There were jokes about pigs and
huffing, puffing and blowing it
Now, though, he's likely having
the last laugh.
Tikana Lodge, near Browns, is a
beautiful property, a two-storey
luxury retreat made out of straw
''I would certainly use straw
again,'' he said.
Dave and his partner, Donna Day,
chose straw bales because they
liked the thick-walled look of old
''Straw bales were going to tick
''Then there was the environment
thing and the insulation value'',
The Lodge took Dave and his
mate, builder Pete Shepard, two
years to build.
That seems like a long time, but
Dave said only he and Pete were
working on the building.
''If you had a full team of builders,
you could have built it in six
months,'' he said.
Another factor which added to the
build time was the design.
Because it was going to be a five-
star accommodation, Dave didn't
skimp on things an ordinary
housebuilder could bypass, such
as an elaborate inlaid floor.
A simpler building could be put
up faster and would still get all the
benefits of the straw bale con-
It's not expensive to source straw:
Tikana used bales made from
barley stubble, each one metre by
half a metre.
To build a house, they are stacked
together around metal support
rods to form the walls.
Then chicken wire is fitted on
both sides of the wall, darning
needles threaded inside to bind it
all together, and finally layers of
plaster are coated over the top.
The result is a building which not
only looks good, but is supremely
Straw bale walls are 10 times as
good for insulation as batts, Dave
They hold the heat in and also
block out sound from outside,
although in the countryside at
Browns there isn't much noise.
The Lodge has underfloor heating
and the slate roof rests on
beautifully weathered old bridg-
Dave said the Lodge was one of
the first straw bale houses built in
Southland, and some people
weren't sure it could work in the
However, it's proven pretty good
The only issue the couple have
had with it is the propensity of the
timber they used to shrink, which
meant small gaps between the
bale walls and the supporting
timbers had to be filled in.
Despite the success of the Lodge's
design, places like Tikana are still
Dave said he thinks some people
are put off by the hippie,
ecowarrior image of building a
house out of straw.
''I don't know if that perception
puts mainstream people off,'' he
But he is a pretty mainstream
guy, a retired vet.
''I was an old hippie in my
university days,'' he joked.
He thought the building sector did
not know much about the
potential of the material.
"If you went to a builder in
Southland, or most builders, and
said you wanted to build a straw
bale house, you aren't going to get
a favourable response."
He said he was lucky his builder
friend Pete was keen on the idea.
Otherwise, there is not much
expertise in the South Island, and
there wasn't much knowhow
when it came to sustainable
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