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Timaru students get a taste of cattle superfood

Timaru students get a taste of cattle superfood as part of national project

Most children usually screw their noses up if they’re forced to eat vegetables as part of a meal.

But a group of almost 40 Timaru students has eagerly munched on kale during a visit to a South Canterbury farm.

The leafy green superfood is one of several crops fed to cattle on Bill and Shirley Wright’s 380-hectare Cannington property during the winter.

“I love kale”, said Natahlia Westgarth, who’s in Year 6 at Beaconsfield School.

The visit was part of a major national project putting students from 100 primary schools onto sheep and beef farms.

The education programme is funded by the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP) and delivered by NZ Young Farmers.

“I had so much fun because I had never been onto a farm before,” said Year 8 student Alandra Larkin.

The farm visit is part of a resource students are studying on boosting productivity in the red meat sector.

“We want to get the industry on the radar of students and teachers, so they’re aware of the career opportunities,” said RMPP’s Di Falconer.

New Zealand’s red meat sector will need to find an extra 33,000 workers by 2025 to replace people who will retire or exit the industry.

Students didn’t just nibble on kale and fodder beet during their visit.

They also got to see sheep being mustered, weighed and shorn.

“We got to compare the fleece from merino sheep and from crossbred sheep,” said Natahlia.

“The merino fleece was the softest to touch and the finest.”

A highlight for students was an experiment comparing manmade and natural fibres.

Pupils watched as Bill attempted to set three items of clothing on fire. They were each made from different material.

“The woollen shirt went black, but it didn’t catch fire,” said Year 6 student Billy McKerrow.

“The flame on the cotton shirt kept going out. But the piece of polyester clothing just melted.”

Students were all surprised to learn a one-year-old beef yearling can be worth more than $1,000.

“They were really interested in the money side of things and wanted to know how valuable sheep and cattle were,” said Bill.

“We spoke to students about the job prospects in the primary industries.”

“It’s not just about shearing sheep and driving tractors. We work with lawyers, scientists and accountants. The opportunities are endless,” he said.

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