Home' Otago Southland Farmer : June 14th 2013 Contents 14.6.13 Farmer
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Farmers fight for environmental balance
Prime : Taupo farmer Mike Barton, right, checks out some top quality beef with M21 Meats director Jake Morice.
By DIANE BISHOP
Farmers need to stop scrapping
with regional councils and work
together on improving water
quality, Lake Taupo farmer Mike
He and other farmers in his
catchment had worked with their
local council to mitigate the
effects of nitrogen leaching into
the lake with the aim of striking a
balance between lake protection
and farming viability.
Mr Barton, who was the guest
speaker at the Innovation at
Invermay seminar in Mosgiel
recently, said farmers were
generally reluctant to work with
their local councils.
''We're not smart as farmers.
''We've framed it [water quality]
as a scrap between us and
regional councils,'' he said.
Mr Barton, who farms on the
north-western corner of Lake
Taupo, faces more environmental
challenges than most.
Stock urine was being leached
into his free-draining soils and
was ending up in Lake Taupo
which had resulted in his
nitrogen emissions being capped
at 2004 production levels.
At the same time his costs had
increased 48 per cent.
''It makes it pretty hard to
increase production without
going over our nitrogen cap,'' Mr
Mr Barton said with 101 sheep
and beef farmers and just four
dairy farms in the Lake Taupo
catchment it was clearly a ''sheep
farmer issue'' and had nothing to
do with fertiliser use.
However, dairy cows still pro-
duced the most nitrogen at an
average 45kg per hectare com-
pared with sheep and beef at
Mr Barton intensively farms beef
cattle on his Lake Taupo property.
He runs hereford-friesian cross
cows which he mates to
simmental-charolais bulls. He
buys in charolais-angus cross
weaners for increased hybrid
vigour and finishes them at 270kg
carcass weight at 18 months
which keeps their lifetime nitro-
gen production to a minimum.
He was currently in the top
quintile for beef production per
hectare and per stock unit.
Unable to easily increase pro-
duction, Mr Barton adds value to
his beef by marketing it under the
Taupo Beef certified label.
Consumers pay a premium for his
beef at restaurants, because it had
a water quality tick.
Lambing at the right
time gives ewes
big boost in nutrition
More lambs: Freestone Farm manager Chris Johns is reaping the rewards from feeding his ewes better.
By DIANE BISHOP
Good nutrition is more important
than sheep breed.
That's according to Freestone
Farm manager Chris Johns, who
is reaping the rewards from
feeding his ewes better.
Since he shifted his lambing date
back three weeks to fit the pasture
growth curve, his lambing per-
centage has lifted from around 130
to 160 per cent because the ewes
are milking better and his lamb
weaning weights have lifted from
an average 28 to 35kg.
A few years ago, he was
struggling with high lamb losses.
''Our wastage was pretty high. We
were losing up to 40 per cent of
our lambs at birth,'' he told
farmers at the Innovation at
He didn't want to drop his
stocking rate on the 628 hectare
Landcorp property he manages in
the Te Anau Basin so moved his
lambing date from September 2 to
September 26 to better match
pasture growth and meet the
demands of his lactating ewes.
''By lambing inside the grass
curve, and with good covers, the
ewes are lactating well and we've
lifted our weaning weights,'' he
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