Business Rural Spring 2021

48 | MEAT & WOOL » Moeraki Downs Firm genetic policy Neville Caldwell on the lambing beat at Moeraki Downs. Virginia Wright Hampden Transport Limited Livestock, Bulk Cartage and Fer � liser Spreading Proud to support Moeraki Downs PHONE: 03 439 5373 MOBILE: 027 4398091 FAX: 03 439 5374 John McCone email: Harvie GreenWyatt is here to help you maintain and grow your agri business. Our rural business Partners: Doug Harvie, Craig Wyatt, Brett Challis, Robyn Friedrich and Tom Saul. professionals understand the ups and downs of farming as we deliver the full spectrum of accounting business and planning disciplines. Software solutions, including Xero, Figured, Focus and MYOB N eville Caldwell is the third generation of Caldwells to farm Moeraki Downs, which lies five minutes drive from the Moeraki boulders just north of Hampden township in North Otago. His father Lyall was the middle of three brothers who farmed the land together for thirty years after they took the reins from their father Les in 1961. Now Neville and his cousin Brent have a farm each side by side in the area which all used to be known as Moeraki Station back in the 1860’s before it was split into smaller farms. “We’ve got our own farms but we help each other out with lamb tailing and marking and things like that,” says Neville. “It’s a good relationship.” Moeraki Downs is 350 hectares of gentle rolling country with a bit of flat including 62 hectares of bare ground, formerly a dairy run-off, which Neville bought four years ago. He runs a tight operation on his sheep and beef farm, particularly with his 55 Hereford-Angus cows. “I fatten everything and keep my own replace- ments because of the Bovis disease,”explains Neville. “I don’t want to buy anything in because you don’t know where they’ve been or who’s had them so I breed my own apart from buying in a bull every three years or so.” Neville’s Bovis strategy also includes being careful with his five cattle-owning neighbours. His heifers and cows are kept internal and never grazed next door to a boundary fence, and the neighbours all work together to avoid problems that could arise if one was moving stock that might compromise the other’s safety net. Moeraki Downs intends to remain disease free with heifers and replacements regularly vacci- nated against BVD,and annual testing showing no signs of TB just as there hasn’t been for the 30 or so years Neville’s been farming. Neville’s belief in the strength that comes from hybrid vigour can be seen in both his cattle and his sheep. He runs 250 Coopworth stud ewes but also offers 60 or 70 Coopdale rams for sale each year which tend to sell further south between Clinton and Waimate. “We just started putting those Coopworth ewes to the Perendale ram in the last three years or so,” says Neville. “The Coopworths are great mothers and the Perendales are a good hardy sheep with an open face and often a bit less wool on their socks. Claire Garrett, from Springston way, takes my top Coopworths each year and Raymond Anderson from Clinton takes my top Coopdale two-tooths.” Moeraki Downs start selling their rams from November onwards with the Coopworths generally selling first by three or four weeks. It’s a simple matter of climate, with lambing in Canterbury be- ing that far ahead of lambing in Otago and South- land and everything else following accordingly, including the lambing on Moeraki Downs itself. Their flock is going from strength to strength which Neville puts down to the strict policy regarding genetics that’s been in place since the stud was first purchased six years ago. “We scan the ewes and tag any that have a single, if she has another single the next year we move her off. Plus all the replacements are multi- ples, we don’t keep any single ewe lambs.” The stud has grown from 120 to 250 and scans around 200% with the lambing percentage over the flock sitting around 150%. Those lambs are trending heavier too thanks to the feed of lucerne they’re getting once the two cuts for silage have been taken. “If anything the stud ewes are getting too big, the shearers are starting to complain,” says Neville with a laugh. “We normally put them to the ram as two-tooth but you don’t want an 80 kilo liveweight ewe having twins. You’ve got to feed an 80 kilo ewe a lot more than a 65 kilo one so we’re putting a ram over them to keep them down in size.” Neville might be the third generation but there’s a fourth generation waiting in the wings with an interest in farming. Neville’s oldest son Andrew (30) manages a grain and sheep farm with his wife over in Western Australia; Nathan (28), comes and works on the farm when he’s not busy muster- ing in the High Country, and Kate (22) is up from Otago University most weekends to help out. “She loves the stud and the lambing,” says Neville. “They’re all great on the farm when they’re around.”