| 35 MEAT & WOOL » Nigel Beer A life dedicated to the Lincoln breed Karen Phelps T he Beer family has spent its life dedicated to farming the Lincoln breed of sheep. Now that has just become more challenging as the farm with the last Lincoln stud in the country has been sold. Lincoln is one of the oldest established long wool breeds and originated over 5000 years ago in Lincolnshire, East Anglia in England. “We’re not sure where we’ll get our rams from now. We’ll possibly look at importing semen from the UK but we need to investigate options,” says Nigel Beer. The Beer brothers – Nigel, Neville and Geoffrey – run the family farming operation based in West Dipton with father Mervyn. It is all run under one entity with each brother responsible for a separate ‘farm’ within the land holding. Each of the brothers farms 1300-1400 ewes. A herd of around 50 breed- ing cattle are thrown into the mix to make best use of marginal land. Nigel says the family has always favoured the Lincoln breed due to its decent lambing percent- ages (despite the breed not being renown for this), good wool production and nice, easy temperament. Even though many farmers have turned their backs on wool due to low prices the Beers are adamant it will make a comeback and so have con- tinued to focus strongly on producing good strong wool. At one point they even had a contract with Japanese clothing company, which was attracted by the special sheen and lustre that Lincoln sheep wool offers; the wigs of lawyers and judges are made from Lincoln wool for this reason. “We’re on hard country here, rising to 1000 feet above sea level, and these sheep produce 5kg of wool. They probably do another 1-2kg on easier country. While other farmers were finding that their shear was costing them due to low wool prices we still held our head above water.” The brothers tend to take care of most of their own needs including completing their own baleage. They have a range of equipment that serves all the ‘farms’ in the operation and they come together to complete the large jobs like shearing and tailing. Government regulations are the other big factor hitting the brothers’ farming business. Nigel says this is placing undue stress on farmers and he questions why others are not having the same focus placed on their operations. “Primary industries generate on-going wealth for the country, Covid-19 has shown us that. I also question the wisdom of the push for forestry and carbon credits. This would make us rely on overseas interests, which will mean New Zealand would not the master of its own destiny. It also doesn’t make much sense to turn good farmland into woodlots,” he says. With the focus on finding natural alternatives to plastic, Nigel is hopeful of wool price rises being on the horizon. As many other farmers have moved away from wool production, and it would take time for the farming sector to gear up to produce wool again, this could place additional pressure on the market if demand does start to rise. “We’ve stuck with wool. We believe there is still a place for it and it will make a comeback.” “We’re on hard country here, rising to 1000 feet above sea level, and these sheep produce 5kg of wool. They probably do another 1-2kg on easier country. While other farmers were finding that their shear was costing them due to low wool prices we still held our head above water.” mmca.co.nz Proudly supporting Southland’s agriculture industry. Get in touch to see how we can help you with your business journey. Ph Corey 027 326 5542 email@example.com ELECTRICAL REGISTERED ELECTRICIAN • Alterations • Maintenance • New builds • Farm buildings • Heat pump installation including full ducted systems For all your commercial and domestic electrical needs, servicing Northern and Central Southland Phone Dave 027 406 7357 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Lincoln ewe and lambs at the Beer family farm in West Dipton. Wool from the Lincoln breed has a special sheen and lustre and is used for the wigs of judges and lawyers for that reason.