Friday, July 1, 2022

Conservation a family tradition

Until 1861, South Canterbury’s Orari Gorge Station was part of the Mt Peel settled by friends Charles Tripp and J B Acland. The properties were divided and a toss of the coin decided who got which property. Sandra Taylor visits the farm which last year won the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust Deer Industry Environmental award for demonstrating outstanding stewardship.

While a toss of the coin secured Orari Gorge station for the Tripp family, that is the only time in the farm’s history that anything has been left to chance.

The family began fencing off areas of bush in 1865, beginning a long tradition of protecting the stands of native bush on the farm as well as enhancing the rest of the farm environment with amenity and shelter planting and matching stock to the environment.

Several historic buildings, including the original homestead, pictured, have been maintained on Orari Gorge.

Johne’s is no longer the major issue it once was and the Peacocks strive to ensure it doesn’t become one again.

As well as the use of the Johne’s-resistant stags, all the two-year-old hinds are tested for Johne’s at scanning and any that are dry or test positive for the disease are culled. This accounts for around 5% of the R2 hinds.

The terminal-sire weaners are grown out on winter feed crops and for the first time this year the Peacocks have grown fodderbeet for this purpose. The first draft is gone to Silver Fern Farms by October and the average carcaseweight across the finishers is 55kg.

The Red weaners are wintered on pasture, grain and grass silage. The better Red stags are retained for the velvet herd while the rest are sold prime in January.

Two-thirds of the yearling hinds are mated Red spikers while the balance goes to Wapiti/Elk spikers – all the spikers are retained from their weaner crop. The number of velvet stags has remained static over recent years and Roberts sees no reason to change.

The stags spend all year on flat paddocks and winter on silage.

The balance of stock works well on Orari and integration of stock classes complement each other.

The mixed-age breeding cows, including the stud cows, rotate around the deer hill block over winter cleaning up rank pasture while the young cattle improve pasture quality on the flat country for both fawns and lambs.

Native bush covers 10% of the rateable area on Orari Gorge (400ha) and care has been taken to protect the bush over the 157 years the station has been farmed.

Bush-covered gullies have been fenced off and exotics have been planted around the perimeter fence to protect the bush and for amenity purposes.

Streams through the farm have been similarly protected to ensure stock don’t have access to the pristine water.

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