Reducing cow size, eating quality a focus Sheep flock down, cattle numbers up

Reducing cow size, eating quality a focus Sheep flock down, cattle numbers up
A strong environmental focus; Riverview students – planting for the future on Kapiro Station

John Hallgarth loves his work as Pamu Farms Kapiro Station manager, a job which is a great fi t for his interest in cattle genetics.
A 2000 effective hectare property located 10 minutes north of Kerikeri in the Bay of Islands, Kapiro Station employs seven staff including John who has worked on the property for nearly three years.
The station farms a diverse mix of enterprises which includes Landcorp’s 600 cow Rangitane Angus Genetics Breeding programme, sheep, dairy grazing, and cropping.
Farming in Northland was new to John after he moved from Central Hawke’s Bay, but he has taken to the variety of work at Kapiro and the culture of Pamu (formerly Landcorp) like a duck to water.
“It’s been thoroughly enjoyable.”  One of the biggest differences compared to Hawke’s Bay has been the management of kikuyu grass, John says.
“You can’t let it get away on you. If you talk to any (Northland) farmer they’ll tell you you’ve got to be on top of it otherwise it takes over your pastures quite quick.”
The station supports 600 Rangitane angus cows, 500 commercial cows, 3000 romney breeding ewes and 1000 replacement ewe hoggets.
It also provides replacement ewe lambs for other Pamu farms, in addition to support for Pamu’s Takou Bay dairy farm.
“They’re once-a-day milking and a split calving herd so we grow out all their replacements. We also provide their winter grazing.”
Kapiro is under the the Rangitane Angus brand and historically the breeding focus has been on maternal traits such as ease of calving, “ideal” birth weights, eye muscle and positive fats.
“We are quite early calving up here so a good mother is essential for us. We probably haven’t followed the industry in the higher growth genetics; that’s being done the other blocks.”

Reducing cow size, eating quality a focus Sheep flock down, cattle numbers up
Light calves make for easy calving on Kapiro Station.

 
“We have put a lot of focus on mature cow weight; we want a nice, efficient, smaller cow that’s not going to eat you out of house and home, but still with a good weaning weight.”
“Bringing our mature cow size down is one of our focuses along with eating quality.”
This means reducing mature weight estimated breeding values (EBV’s) from 100 plus to about 80 to 85 to grow a cow of around 600 kilograms.
Since John has worked at Kapiro, sheep numbers have been reduced by more than 2000 and cattle increased because of higher animal health costs in Northland for sheep.
John attributes this to the region’s warmer winters and humid summers being conducive to worms and fly strike.
Winter is a busy time of year as cattle are weighed, DNA recorded and tagged before calving.
“There’s a lot more recording with the genetic side of the business; it has to be done to data into Breedplan for our EBV’s to be generated.”
Intensive drafting is also undertaken to ensure bulls and cows are appropriately matched.Because Pamu is strongly environmentally focused, there has been considerable investment in gorse control, fencing of waterways and paddock subdivision.
“We only want to be farming the good areas and planting the rest of the areas nicely. It’s aesthetically pleasing when you’re going around the farm and it does a job by providing riparian buffer zones.”
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