Business Rural Spring 2021

24 | Perendales part of W arren Ayers is the fourth generation of Ayers to work the family farm which lies 10 kilometres east of Wyndham in Southland. For the last six weeks he’s been running the farm more or less on his own, helped by his partner Di and, thanks to our most recent Covid lockdown, his 17 year old son Tom currently home from school. He has someone starting shortly but the increasing dif- ficulty in getting staff is one of the reasons Warren’s farming system is geared for simplicity. That, and the bottom line needless to say. The farm is 890 hectares of rolling to steep terrain of which 50 hectares is QE 11 open space covenant, which they started fencing off 30 years ago, with a further 50 hectares or so of pockets of native bush not yet fenced. “It’s good shelter for the flock,” says Warren, “and fencing is a good tool for stock management too obviously, so it’s in the plan. I’d rather be in control of what gets fenced than be told what to do by the District Council.” The soil is clay-based with a topsoil depth of 30 to 35 centimetres with quite a bit of rock close to the surface. That combined with the slope means the water doesn’t accumulate which makes all the difference when it comes to winter grazing. “My dairy clients say they love coming up here because the cows don’t sink into the mud, they stay on the top,” says Warren. This year they’re running 180 beef cows of their own and winter grazing 700 dairy cows. The winter grazing is part of Warren’s streamlining to better spread his income as well as manage his resources. “If you go back 10 years we were running 6000 ewes,” says Warren, “now we run 5200. We were trading cattle, so we were buying in weaned calves and killing them as older cattle so probably the equivalent of 300 cows.” The current system is better for the income spread but not necessarily better for the workload acknowledges Warren. “Nobody really enjoys shift- ing cows in the winter,” he says with a laugh. “When you could be out catching cod in Foveaux strait or enjoying some skiing. You can’t do that when you’re shifting dairy cows every morning.” MEAT & WOOL » Kamahi Perendales: Warren Ayers Of the sheep 350 are recorded Perendale stud ewes. Warren is the current president of the Perendale Society and the Kamahi Perendale stud dates back to 1972 when it was started by Warren’s father, around the time they switched from running Romneys to Perendales. “A lot of our farm at that stage was quite unde- veloped and still fallen bush although some parts of it were already good,” says Warren. “At the time it was considered that Perendales were hardier, and they still suit the easy-care lambing system we run here.” Although Warren thinks it’s becoming more com- mon now, the Ayers started moving in the direction of easy or natural-care lambing 30 years ago. “Most of it is if you assist a ewe in lambing time, in the early years of doing it, you shouldn’t keep the ewe or her ewe lambs. From the stud breeding point of view now, if you’re breeding studs and you assist a ewe with a ram lamb, in my view, the ewe and that ram lamb should be culled out because of course they’re 50% of the genetics.” Easy lambing is one of the Kamahi Perendale stud’s hallmarks, and Warren’s assessment of his own farm supports what he does there. “I’ve done a cost analysis on what it costs to go round the farm even once a day, and also taking into account the time spent not doing something else. “So for me here, I might cover the cost but I wouldn’t cover the time and given that we do quite a bit of tractor work in September I’d be needing someone else to do that as well. There’s next to no market for slinkskins any more either.” The bottom line for Warren with his Kamahi Per- endales can be put quite simply. “Right now we’re still just aspiring to breed a good ram that grows well,” says Warren. Part of his simplification means that they’re now geared towards selling store lambs rather than growing them out themselves, and these days they sell around 70% at weaning time, thereby leaving more feed for their ewes. It may be simple but it seems to be working. “The Perendale lambs I sold as store lambs were bought by the same person in three different drafts throughout the summer so he obviously liked them. Time will tell I suppose when we see if he comes back next year,” jokes Warren. “A lot of our farm at that stage was quite undeveloped and still fallen bush although some parts of it were already good. At the time it was considered that Perendales were hardier, and they still suit the easy-care lambing system we run here.” Easy lambing is one of Kamahi Perendale stud’s hallmarks. 888ha Rolling Hill Country in Southern Southland: 5500 ewes & 180 Angus Cows All stud sheep are farmed under natural, commercial conditions SIL Recorded, Sires Sheep 50K DNA Tested Flock No. 272 SIL No. 142 Warren Ayers - Phone: 027 226 4290 413 Waiarikiki - Mimihau Road, Wyndham. Virigina Wright Selling store lambs is a focus at Kamahi Perendales, with around 70% sold at weaning time.