Thursday, December 7, 2023

Pātoka farmers get creative moving cattle across river

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Tractor, crate and trucks enlisted to help farm stuck with 500 animals and no suitable bridge.
Sally and Nathan Newall’s bulls are transferred from a stock crate to a stock truck as part of a complicated trip to get them off the farm. Photo: Sally Newall/ Kiwi Country Kids
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There might finally be some light at the end of the tunnel for isolated residents in the Hawke’s Bay region of Pātoka.

Access to the area has been severely limited since Cyclone Gabrielle washed out a bridge at Rissington in February. A culvert bridge was installed, but it had limitations for heavy vehicles and relied on low river levels. 

News that a Bailey bridge is likely to open on Friday is a relief for locals and can’t come soon enough for farmers desperate to get stock off their farms and to saleyards or meatworks.

Sally and Nathan Newall were stuck with about 500 bulls that would normally have been off the farm well before now.

Sally Newall shared a lengthy video her Kiwi Country Kids Facebook page documenting the process. Credit: Kiwi Country Kids

Late last week they were able to finally move 36 of them, but it was a lengthy process. The stock were trucked from the farm down to the Tūtaekurī River, transferred into a stock crate 16 at a time, and towed across the river by tractor to a truck and trailer waiting on the other side. 

“Getting bulls off farm is a challenging process these days,” Sally Newall said. 

“With our only bridge to town washed away we have to do things a little differently. We did one load last week across the river and thought we won’t do that again, we’ll wait for the Bailey bridge.

“Then space came up at the works and we needed to get them out so we had to take that opportunity.”

Despite vowing not to do it again, the Newalls this week shipped out 60 more bulls. 

With about 100 bulls off the farm, and a bigger clear-out planned when the Bailey bridge is installed, Newall said they are now starting to focus on winter feed.

“These bulls have just decked us to the boards.”