Sunday, May 22, 2011

Lamb in North America

Mate in US sent me this cutting headed, "Low supply, high demand fire up lamb prices".
According to Glen Fisher, immediate Past President of the American Sheep Industry Assn, its almost a perfect storm, US demand is up, imports are down, and prices have soared.
Last year's May delivery price was $1.39/lb, this year its around $2.20.
Last year 156 million lbs of lamb was slaughtered, about 30% of it purchased around Easter, and Christmas.
The price is so high there's a bit of market resistance, retailers to the ethnic market (Hispanic, Middle Easterners, Africans), are saying theyre refusing to retail at $7/pound.
Thats not a bad mark-up!
Others are saying the demand is still strong even at that price.

The article says US has about 5.5 million sheep, with Texas and California leading the nation. Roughly 35% of lamb traded is imported.
About 1/3 of sales are through non-traditional markets, smaller processing plants, farmers markets, direct sales off farms, and local butcher shops, and this market is growing surprisingly quickly.
The larger 2/3 goes through commercial plants and supermarkets, and they appear to be worrying the higher prices and low supply might cause loss of market share. The director of producer relations for one of the nations larger lamb processors is quoted as saying there needs to be more product in front of the consumer so if theyre thinking about it they can easily find it, and that there has to be a happy medium where everyone can make money and the consumer can still find it.
Read into that what you will.

The article goes on to mention huge drought assisted drops in the Australian sheep population, and the dairy challenged NZ numbers as contributing to the lowered supply, plus drought in Texas, but activity has picked up in Tennessee, Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio.
There's also been increased interest in sourcing local product, and Super Wal-Mart has decided to sell only local lamb for the next 2 years.

The tighter supply of wool stocks is also noted, pushing wool prices to a 20 year high, amid near-record prices for cotton, and for oil-based synthetics.

Fisher says the sheep association plans to increase sheep numbers by adding 2 ewes per operation, or 2 ewes per 100, by 2014. They also plan to increase average birth rates to 2 lambs per ewe, and to raise the slaughter rate by 2%.
This program should result in 315,000 more lambs, and 2 million lbs more wool, worth an estimated $71m lamb and $3m wool receipts respectively.

Fisher runs 3100 sheep on his Sonora, near Houston, Texas, operation.

Consider all the above in the context of imports being dearer, and therefore put under pressure, by the US Treasury's keeping the USD devalued by printing more dollars, to maintain a currency parity with China.

Frankly, I wish the US sheep producer all the best.

Friday, May 20, 2011

More Dom Puke

The editor's lead article "Time to pluck the rural geese a little harder", had another go yesterday, further displaying his ignorance.
Now us farmers are multi-million dollar businesses sponging off their fellow citizens, he says.
Wage earners forever fail to appreciate they dont pay their tax, their employers do. Like every business, I've got an archive of cheque butts plainly showing monthly employee PAYE deductions drawn on my business account.
We pay for their Kiwi-Saver as well.
Further backs up my statement of yesterday, the self-serving urban animal is only too eager to turn and bite the hand that feeds it, in the name of this mercenarily adaptable term "fairness".
Then he goes on to say, if profitability is really that bad, why dont we get out and do something else.
That's an allegation I've had thrown at me before by someone with a plus $100,000 taxpayer funded salary to defend.
That other idiot from the Greens alleges farmers deliberately purchase farms then claim the interest as deductible expense so they can live a high life, then cash up, to carry on the bourgeois existence.
In all my time I've never seen any farmer do that.
I've seen plenty stepping stone their way into bigger and better properties though, ordinary battlers starting out with little on the road to better.
It would be a shame to see this ruined by the "fairness" brigade getting their way with property and capital taxing.
We persist in this game for the challenge to go out every day in the hope of doing our task better, and beneath it all, failure isnt an option.
Almost an irony to appear the same day, and one that I hope wont be missed by Dompost readers, was Jon Morgan's column on the East Coast Regions Ballance Farm Environment Award winners for this year, Steve and Jane Wyn-Harris.
The ethic and philosphy Steve's applied to his work, his farm, his austerity and judgement, are all we other runners in the race that is farming aspire to, but not achieve quite as well as he has.
Thankyou for that Steve, and Jon Morgan, for once again doing the rural community such good service in bringing this part of the awards process out so well.

The Dompost editor is a dick, capital letters.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Dominion Puke Wednesday May 18 2011

Newspaper, or fish and chip paper
"Is This Fair?", surely the year's nadir in reporting and publishing.
As described once by talk-back host, Leighton Smith, "fair" would have to be the most abused, misused, distasteful, plain losers/whingers suck of a word, in the whole English language.
And reporter Vernon Small would have to take second prize behind editorial staff for the Business Illiterate of the Year.
That IRD could verify the average dairy farmer's tax take so low, would only indicate how mediocre the reward for the 90% of us who arent in the top 10% of farm business managers, really is.
The inference that substantial personal expense is somehow hidden in the business budget spend is plain offensive.
IRD place so many road-blocks in any attempt to file one's own business tax return, a farmer is forced to enlist the services of an accountant to do it, whose reputation is then on the line if proper accounting isnt effected. And we all get audited by IRD sometime or other.
Neither is the effect of bad season on farm profitability allowed for in the year singled out for examination.
The truth of the matter is that the majority of farmers reward themselves with less than the dole at the end of year wash-up, and have done for years.
Many spouses work off farm to contribute to the family coffers, many farmers do themselves, and if it looks like this dosent totally account for the apparent affluence of farmers, then there's less obviously been a lot of borrowing, or living on capital going on.
As Mike Hosking pointed out this morning on ZB radio, ultimately to the fiscal benefit of all the community. Never have so few done so much for so many, for this sort of thanks, yeah right.
Our (Farmers) Federation have invested a lot of effort in trying to improve town/country relations. Personally, I'd sooner a watch my back policy.
Despite townies individually being quite nice chaps, any text on social development themes will infer directly or otherwise, that an urban conglomeration is nothing more than a rapacious out of control collective animal, hell bent on serving itself.
This paper's continued airing of the fiasco that is roading in and out of the capitol only illustrates the inherent nimby attitude driving all us outsiders to go elsewhere to spend our alleged "unfair" gains.
We arent that dumb to notice that ex-pat urbanites want us to slow down enough going through villages on the high road to Wellingtown, so we can be further pillaged by their highway stalls.
Anyone who's been to America, Europe, or China even, has seen that a 4-lane trafficlight-free highway punched all the way from Levin to Thorndon via Paekakariki, Pukerua and Mana on the existing SH1 route, would be chicken-feed to those guys, but oh no, not to a Wellingtonian, far better to over-run the livelihood of one farming family running a road up an impossible Gully.
Apart from sports columnists Tony Robson and Mark Reason, the business pages, Jane Bowron's award meriting heart-warmers, Jon Morgan's thoughtful contributions on the rural scene, the crossword page, and intelligent letters to the editor not signed by anyone prefacing their name with "Dr", the rest hardly qualifies as reading material. (That dosent leave much does it, just the editorial here-in referred).
Or is this a beat-up to lead into introducing capital gains tax?
Or just as likely, a Labour promoted one to argue against dismantling Working for Families, so a heap of their voters can continue a tax-free existence.
As FarmFeds dairy leader Lachlan McKenzie summed on yesterdays ZB talk-back, the front page article was rubbish.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Addition to 2011 Stud Sire Ranks

Ashgrove 1/07
Just back from Steve Wyn-Harris' today with some important cargo on the truck, he's graciously lent me a stud sire acquired at the NZOSR selection day, Ashgrove 1/07, bred by David Hartles, Maungaturoto.
At DPP 2762, this ram is currently 2nd (out of 1028), on the latest Coopworth national across-flock sire list, 1511 of those index points gained from a 28th ranking for growth, and 613 for 3rd rank for survival.
Although he'll only catch a 3rd cycle mating tail, progeny bred will be a useful contribution to essential flock linkage, and his Ramguard dose credential of 5.5 is good for this FE environment.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Planetary Cluster

Interesting show going on in the eastern sky in the mornings right now, just before daybreak, 5.30 - 6.30 am
Mars just above the horizon, and Venus, Jupiter and Mercury in a tight group a bit higher.
A look at the Sky-Map also shows Uranus and Neptune within 50 degs as well.
According to the end-of-timers, the wheels should be falling off the Universe with such a ducks in a row line up, but I guess its not close enough to 21/12/12.
Still, gee whizz, there's all these earthquakes, tornados, and other stuff going on, LOL.

My scepticism got another tweak recently.
I was looking up glyphosate's potential use for gorse control, and as happens with most searches, you get fringe results not necessarily along the intended line of enquiry.
One particular link, denigrated the use of the chemical claiming it damaged earthworms.
This piqued my interest, as I use glyphosate to knock back pasture enough to direct drill summer feed crops, or, at lighter rates, to induce clover dominance, again for summer lamb feed.

Most of that rough stuff in the drill wake is worm cast
However, my concern for my fellow worms was greatly assuaged at re-grassing recently, the worm activity is fantastic. I want it to be so too, as theyre important in reclaiming good soil out of the layer of silt inherited from the 2004 and 2006 floods.
The worms are huge too, 6-8" long, and fat.
Maybe the little ones got knocked off and only the strong survived, but more likely its another case of status protection by scaring the unwashed bullshit where, in the supporting "research", the subject worms were doused in straight glypho to prove the belief.

Going to submit myself to another dousing of "belief" come Monday at a seminar involving 'climate change' scientists Jim Salinger and Lincoln's Prof Saunders, and columnist Rod Oram, as in, like, all this concern is a legitimate proposition.
All the years I've been on this farm, since I was born actually, virtually nothing's changed by way of weather.
I think its a case of people living under rain clouds think its raining everywhere else, city dwellers only see increasing stress on resources.
So if all the glaciers are melting, why arent sea levels rising?
More heat, more evaporation, more precipition, more cooling, that's why.
I think...

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Coopworth Across-Flock Sire Summary March 2011

The latest across-flock sire summary was published in March.
This summary is breed wide covering 90 odd flocks, (not the smaller NZOSR summary referred to in earlier posts which covers about half the national flock).

Each trait page lists 35 rams, which represent the top 3% of the 1028 registered ram total.
When you consider that registered rams must fall within the top 15% of their within flock peers, it could be considered that these 35 trait leaders fall within the top 0.5% of all rams born.

Waione rams figuring on these lists, with their respective trait ranking are as follows:

Adult Growth:       68/04   24
                           208/03   35
     Smaller sheep rank highest, and a bit of a surprise here to me.
     I thought my sheep were too big to rank.
     Bigger sheep are presumed to come at a feed cost.

Meat:                  400/00   11
                           311/07   12
                           166/02   21
                           198/05   24
                           275/05   34
     20 years selection using eye-muscle scan indexing shows.
     Never been a fan of selecting for body length.
     Prefer deeper bodied, big back-end, and hill-worthy.

Wool:                  297/07    9
                           300/07   23
                           329/02   26
     Continuing focus on fleece weight and quality.

Summaries for each trait can be viewed at:

Thursday, May 5, 2011


Naming horses is a bit of fun.
Since the days of breeding mares to War Hawk II I've taken to searching out good sounding North American Indian names.
Here's the latest, Fallenleaf, (Maltese Century - Ravenquiver), to join the racing team, a rising 5yo full sister of Four Swords.
She's only been doing pre-training work up at Dean Cunningham's so far, with a view to getting serious for winter 2012.

Understandably, the Indians dont like ancestor's names being taken in vain any more than Maori do, but I use the anglicised versions, with all due respect accorded. Big attraction for me is, in their language, they have a beautifully unique and descriptive way of putting words together.
Fallenleaf was a member of the Lakota Sioux nation who ranged west of the Missouri into Dakota.
Living around the late 1800's, she was described as "...... one of those individuals found in all lands, at all places, among all people...... misplaced", apparently not in harmony with her own people.
This may have been partly a result of her father, Spotted Tail, not being in synch with his fellow chief peers in seeing futility in warring with the encroaching whites, instead preferring to parley.
He was well rewarded by whites for this stance, even said this went to his head, and was eventually murdered by his own people.
Fallenleaf was thought to have had a long standing love affair with a long-knife officer, and on her death asked to be buried on a hill overlooking Fort Laramie.
Nice story, and in the naming, engenders a mindfulness in the way you look at and treat your horses.

The mare herself, by Maltese Century, a son of the excellent racehorse Century, (5 wins at 2 incl VRC Sires Produce S. and chart topping sire in Aus), and out of Love a Kiss, who was rated 2nd on the 2yo free handicap of her year. Century was also the sire of one of NZ's greats, Centaine.
Her dam Ravenquiver, a daughter of home-bred sire Siege Perilous, (Sir Tristram - Waione Girl), out of stakes placed Never Winter, (War Hawk - Prairie Flower), therefore double-bred with the studs own 22 family blood, with Sir Tristram and War Hawk chucked in.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Cavalier & WSI

Havent got to feeling any easier over Cavalier's take-over of WSI attempt.
I think they're doing it to control the price they have to pay to acquire wool for their carpet manufacturing process, in short, not good news for us wool-producers having signalled our attempt to help ourselves with the now failed WPI.
They'll achieve it by being the sole conduit for wool leaving NZ.
They've already signalled their position by not paying any heed to Robert Pratt when he was a member of their board pushing for vertical integration, farm to mill.
Of course, we producers might consider trying the reverse take-over.
If we're prepared to put up $1 per kg wool produced to fund WPI type proposals, then why not the same to buy a substantial share of Cavalier, and get corresponding membership of the board?