What are pedigree livestock?
Pedigree animals have their parentage known and able to be traced back at least 4-5 generations to prove that they have been bred only with other pedigree members of their breed. This ensures that the animal that you see in front of you when you purchase it is fully true to the breed type and that it will ‘breed true’, meaning that it’s offspring will be exactly like the parents and will in turn only produce offspring true to the breed type. This is particularly important if it is the particular features of that breed that you are interested in, for example in the ability of a sheep breed to shed its wool. If animals do not come from pedigree stock then their performance and that of their offspring will be unpredictable; eg, they do not shed well and/or their progeny do not shed well.
We've heard that some Wiltshire sheep don't shed well, are yours fully shedding sheep?
Yes, certainly. This is the trait of this breed which we have focused on since we started our pedigree flock in 1997. We made several imports of sires and ewes from Australia since 2002 in order to achieve a fully shedding flock, as many of the sheep in NZ didn’t shed well. Australian pedigree flocks have not suffered from the cross-breeding with wool breeds which occured widely here in NZ in order to develop bigger flocks faster. We have now achieved a full-shedding flock and we will only sell sheep that we can guarantee are full-shedding.
Can we come and see your livestock?
Yes, certainly. Once you have made your interests known to us and we have verified that we have stock available, we can arrange a viewing time. We prefer weekday viewings as we are a busy family with many weekend commitments, but we can be available on a Saturday morning by arrangement to cater for people who are busy working all week. We can also send you pictures of livestock available by internet.
Can you deliver?
We can deliver livestock around the Rodney district to a radius of about 50km (down to the North Shore, Dairy Flat, Helensville, Southhead, and up to Wellsford, Kaiwaka, Mangawhai, and out to the Pakiri & Leigh). We make a flat rate charge of $300 for this service. If you live further afield we recommend the use of a reliable livestock trucking company, see a list of suggestions on our terms and conditions page (please note this is not a comprehensive list and we recommned the use of your own carrier if you have one you have used before or one recommended by a friend). We can also help arrange delivery down to the South Island. We can discuss carrier options with you to be find what best suits your location and timing. Many customers prefer to pick up themselves using a covered trailer to ensure their newly purchased livestock receive the very best care and spend the shortest time on the road.
So what does 'certified' organic mean?
Being certified as organic means that an independent certifying agency carries out annual audits on your farm and looks into your farming methods and paper audit to ensure that you are complying to the approved organic standard to justify labeling your products as organic. Unless you are certified, any claim to be farming organically cannot be substantiated. There are four approved certifying agencies in New Zealand: BioGro, AsureQuality, Demeter and Organic Farm NZ, and each tends to cater to a particular market sector. Certification is only required if you are intending to sell organic produce, and is not necessarily needed for hobby or lifestyle farmers. We were certified organic for all our farming years up until 2014, when we ceased our organic meat sales. Since then we have not continued with certification, but we have continued to farm in exactly the same way, and contiunue to uphold all the values and conditions of an organic farm. We now refer to ourselves as biological farmers even though our farming systems are of a standard equivalent to an organic farm. We also encourage others into this farming system by helping to run a biological farming group covering the Kaipara harbour catchment area.
Can you recommend some good reading material on organic farming?
Yes, there are now quite a few good books available. One that I can recommend is available from the Soil and Health Association in an A4 looseleaf binder, called the Organic Pastoral Resource Guide. at NZD$40. Pat Coleby’s set of books on natural farming , although written from an Australian perspective, are also very applicable here in NZ and give useful information for different types of livestock. For information about biological farming look at the website of the Association of Biological Farmers NZ http://www.biologicalfarmers.nz; and also Google Biological farming.
If I buy organic livestock will they be fine on my own property without chemical drenches etc?
It depends on how you are farming your own property. Organically reared livestock need to continue to be kept on organically managed fully mineralized land in order to continue to thrive without pharmaceutical interventions. They can only use their own natural immunity and resistance to parasites and diseases if they are receiving optimum nutrition from organically managed grass, and also if infection rates are kept to a minimum using methods of organic livestock management like stock rotations, cross-grazing etc. If organically reared livestock are being kept alongside non-organically reared animals, or are not being kept on land that has been converted over a period of several years to organic farming, then they need to be managed in the same way as other conventionally managed, non-organic livestock. However, they will tend to be naturally hardier and healthier than conventionally reared stock and will particularly thrive if given minerals in licks, troughs, drenches, and supplements etc.
Are fertilisers used In organic farming?
Yes fertilisers are certainly used to maintain fertility and to adjust the nutrient content of the soil. There is a whole range of naturally-occurring fertilizers which take much longer to break down in the soil than the water-soluble synthetic fertilisers usually used in modern intensive farming. They also tend to provide a much wider range of essential elements for plant growth, including the trace elements, and are closer to the required nutrient balance for optimum growth. The best types of organic fertilisers are seaweed-based, those made from worm-casts, and from composting down many types of naturally occurring organic material.
What does being 'organic' actually mean. Is it just not using pesticide sprays?
Organic is one of those words that is often used but also often misunderstood. It is a holistic farming approach that relies upon the natural biological activity of a healthy soil to grow pasture and crops which are packed full of natural health-giving nutrients and protective compounds, and therefore grow healthy livestock. Complex natural fertilizers are used in this system, like seaweed, fish, composts, wormcasts, etc, which are slowly broken down by soil microbes and contain the full spectrum of nutrients, trace elements, humus, and micro-organisms needed for a healthy & fully functioning soil. Artificial inorganic chemicals such as conventional fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides are not used as they tend to destroy the soil micro-organisms and soil structure that soil health relies upon. The terms organic farming and biological farming tend to be used interchangeably, however, biological farming is a transtional system to fully organic farming. It takes care of the soil in the same way, but does not always include all the wider elements like protection of natural ecosystems on the farm like waterways and native bush, nor always have the same rigourous animal husbandry standards. It is also not an independantly audited and certified farming system. However, the food value of biologically farmed crops & livestock is significantly better than that of intensive industrial agricultural systems, and does have many other environmental benefits, including reduced soil erosion & nutrient run-off.