After receiving the 2016 Trans-tasman Exchange scholarship at this years Angus Youth National Roundup, I was so excited about the adventures to come! Leading up to the exchange I was wanting to have a hands on, practical experience at every place I visited whilst looking at their genetics and youth programs… and trying not too freeze along the way!
I started off my tour in the North Island travelling from Hains Herefords, Angus & Romneys to Turihaua in the Gisbourne area on the east coast. Having said I wanted a hands on experience of New Zealand, I definitely was given that straight up. I helped muster, draft and shear sheep as well as process mixed aged cows for calving and calves that were fresh on the ground from first calvers. I experienced some beautiful lush country, with views of mountains and a beach front that anyone would love to have their property on.
From Turihaua I headed south to Waiterenui in the Hawkes Bay where I saw much drier and tougher conditions to the previous locations meaning it was a more intensive system. From there I headed west to meet up with the Dalziell’s of Atahaua where I was shown a very wet time before moving onto Merchiston. After a bit more sheep work and seeing some beautiful breeding cows I got the chance to poke my head into Performance Breeders which is similar to ABRI in Australia. Here I met some of the people behind the breeds in NZ and was able to compare this to my knowledge of Angus Australia and time spent at ABRI last year on my fourth year internship.
I also got the opportunity to be taken around by Issy Hobbs from Young Farmers who works with Teen Ag school groups to get agricultural activities and opportunities into high schools. Because I am currently studying my Masters of Teaching and have a severe passion for working with the younger agricultural generation, I found this so fun and insightful. Hearing what the students want and what could be up and coming events for them made me think what we could introduce into the school systems or youth programs in Australia.
Continuing my tour I met with the Kjestrups from Kay Jay Angus who again were in a dry spell! Here I got back into working helping tag some calves, clip off some cow brands and move cows. They took me Taraua Breeding Centre and showed me some great hospitality before moving me onto Glanworth. If I wasn’t wet yet, I surely was by now. It poured, and poured and then poured some more during my stay meaning I did not get to see cattle but I enjoyed some down time watching the Olympic opening ceremony and getting into the spirit of the Super Rugby Final.
Heading across the Tasman Sea on the ferry into ‘The Sounds’ my weather changed from horrible to amazing! I was greeted on the South Island with warmer weather (surprisingly), snow capped mountains and the lovely Hickman family and friends of Taimate Angus. It still amazed me everyday that you could be so close to the sea but also so close to snow. After Taimate I went to Te Mania who were very very busy while I was there. Amongst shifting breaks, tagging calves and other chores they were also blooding over 600 head for BVD testing before their yearling sales. This was super cool to be involved in as I like a high paced, challenging working environment. I also got to meet the team at Xcell Breeding Services who were super friendly and told me all about what they were doing and why.
Following Te Mania I went to Grampians where Jono, Sarah and Hank showed me around a much colder place. This place was fun filled with good conversation and a different type of cattle to what I had previously seen. As Jono and Sarah are involved in the youth area of New Zealand Angus, I got an opportunity to talk to them about their program and what they see for their juniors moving into the future!
The last few days of my trip were spent with my personal trip planner and lovely friend Marie Timperley of Timperlea Angus. By this time it was wonderful to see a familiar face and someone I can re cap on my adventure with. We tagged calves, ate amazing food, I climbed a ridiculously huge mountain mustering sheep and talked a lot of cows and genetics which was very enjoyable. Amongst this we talked about the Angus youth programs in our countries and got too excited about the 2017 World Angus Forum because of course we are both die hard competitors.
My experiences in New Zealand were not only picturesque and full of cattle but also very rewarding as I enjoy analysing different systems and finding out why they do what they do and how different things work for them. I found it so interesting that even though the country is small in comparison to Australia, there is so much diversity in their landscapes, rainfall and climate conditions and the overall type of cattle they were producing.
The commercial focus of the NZ systems was really evident with most people saying they did not show or rarely did. Coming from a stud stock background this was a great opportunity to allow me to find out about their beef industries and current market trends which are following a similar trend to ours being at a current peak. I was amazed that there was a difference in prices between the North and South Island cattle and lamb prices and
Throughout the trip, the common jokes were that the rain was following me where ever I went or ‘oh we are just going up that small hill’, which of course ended up with me hanging off the back of a bike or buggy heading up what we would know as a mountain. Shifting breaks became my daily work out trudging up and down hills, through belly high kale crops for dairy and beef cows and keeping up to date with the NZ Olympic results rather than the Australian.
In finishing, I would like to sincerely thank Angus Youth Australia as well as NZ Generation Angus and breeders for this amazing opportunity, it has been something I will always remember. I encourage any younger member of the agricultural world that is interested in travelling or seeing another countries industry to apply for opportunities such as the Trans-Tasman Exchange. Whether from a commercial or stud stock background, the experiences and friends you get out of these opportunities will stay with you for life.
Every family I had the opportunity to meet with were so welcoming and open in showing me their cattle, systems and the place they call home. Being able to create a network of friends in another country is so invaluable and I truly cherish everybody’s hospitality and kindness. I am lucky to have experiences I will carry through life and look forward to returning soon.