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Otago Farmers Expect Brighter Future

A group of Central Otago farmers has a more secure future and is reaping better returns on stock because of a research project supported by Technology New Zealand.

“We were concerned about the profitability of sheep, particularly of lambs, especially in a time of low rainfall or drought,” Focus 2000 Group spokesman John Andrews says. “We realised that our farming decisions needed to be more objectively based, rather than relying on instinct.”

New and different ways of farming resulted from the three-year project that entailed better monitoring of animal health, pasture trials, genetics, and even trying out different breeds of sheep, such as Coopworth, European Texel, Finn and East Friesian.

“We’ve found that the project has improved people’s outlook about the future, and we’re putting into practice changes that will last for years,” Mr Andrews says. “There have been some big improvements – despite a drought of 2½ years – that have laid a platform for growth. We've had to go through a significant learning curve."

George Collier, an Alexandra chartered accountant and farm consultant to the group, says the project was a genuine success – “no doubt about it”.

“These farmers are much more confident about the decisions they’re making," he says. "They are making better decisions based on factual information that focuses on meeting their production and financial objectives. This is increasing their profitability and will ensure they will be able to farm sustainably into the future.

“Some farmers within the project had a genuine need to create extra revenue.”

Mr Andrews, who farms 2500 hectares near Waipiata, says the project has added to old-fashioned stockmanship. “We add this knowledge to the instinct and experience that we will always need”.


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