Why not de­liver cull cows di­rect to works?


Fed­er­ated Farm­ers Waikato pres­i­dent

With this sum­mer’s dry con­di­tions con­tin­u­ing to place pres­sure on Waikato farm­ers of ev­ery stripe, I ex­pect sa­le­yards will be in­un­dated with cull cows and ex­cess stock in the next few weeks.

I hope farm­ers take time to think about what is best for th­ese an­i­mals, which will no doubt face a sec­ond stress­ful jour­ney to the meat­works af­ter a hot day in the pens. Farm­ers have a duty to do the best by our an­i­mals. Surely it would be bet­ter to cut out a re­dun­dant leg of the jour­ney for th­ese an­i­mals, min­imise their stress lev­els and just sell them straight to the pro­ces­sors.

There is a lot of talk about im­prov­ing the meat in­dus­try’s pro­cesses and the po­ten­tial ben­e­fit to farm­ers. We also need to look at how we deal with sur­plus stock, not just in terms of the in­dus­try but in terms of what is bet­ter for the an­i­mals. I can­not see the point of send­ing cull cat­tle which are bound for the works any­way, through the ad­di­tional stress and strain of trav­el­ling to the sa­le­yards.

It is frus­trat­ing to look at the 10-day long-range fore­casts which say the right kind of clouds are on the hori­zon and headed our way, but which seem to evap­o­rate be­fore the promised rainy day.

The small doses of rain to­wards the end of Jan­uary and in the start of Fe­bru­ary have staved off drought, but Waikato and many other parts of the North Is­land had record low rain­fall over Jan­uary. The whole of the up­per North Is­land is start­ing to get a bit des­per­ate for rain, and farm­ers hope the Niwa pre­dic­tion of nor­mal to slightly above av­er­age rain­fall from March on­wards prove ac­cu­rate. In fact, nor­mal rain­fall may not be enough and we may al­most be hop­ing for a sig­nif­i­cant weather event to get us back to where we should be.

Farm­ers need to use all of the re­sources avail­able to them. Talk to DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand, get some good ad­vice around plan­ning and stick to it.

It is in­ter­est­ing to see farm­ers have voted over­whelm­ingly in favour of the Farm­lands and CRT merger. The vote saw 82.5 per cent of Farm­lands share­hold­ers say yes and 85 per cent of CRT share­hold­ers.

This was the first of two votes on the deal, the sec­ond of which will be fi­nalised to­day. Given that the fees awarded to the con­sul­tants pub­li­cis­ing the vote and en­sur­ing it went off smoothly were linked to a suc­cess­ful vote, I would say they will be toast­ing a suc­cess­ful cam­paign. I do won­der though, what in­flu­ence did this success fee have on the in­for­ma­tion given to the farm­ers? Should we ex­pect more im­par­tial­ity from the peo­ple who are dis­tribut­ing the vi­tal in­for­ma­tion we need to make up our minds?

There are some road­shows planned in early March to in­crease the en­vi­ron­men­tal aware­ness among farm­ers. Dairy­ing is a highly com­plex busi­ness, which can be hard to un­der­stand from the out­side, so this is a per­fect op­por­tu­nity for me­dia to gain valu­able in­sight into the in­dus­try’s chal­lenges and how it is deal­ing with them.

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