Country Life

Friday 5 February 2016, with Carol Stiles, Susan Murray, Cosmo Kentish-Barnes & Duncan Smith

Fleecing It

 The angora goat

The angora goat

Photo: Trisha M Shears

John Woodward stands in his mohair fibre sorting and export warehouse with its wooden bench and wool sacks full of lustrous flowing ringlets and he's perplexed.

"I can't fathom why, these animals (angora goats), so long as people do their homework properly, and come and see the farmers with the right information,  who are open and available, don't change to farming angora goats as a livestock option. Perplexed is the word."

Mr Woodward's been in the game for nearly 40 years. He's seen the highs, which were very high, in the 1980's, and he's seen the lows.  Now he says there's a stable industry with a highly sought-after product that fetches good money.

One angora goat produces about one hundred dollars of fibre a year.  A ewe with a cross bred fleece, at today's prices, fetches about 30 dollars.

But the Mohair industry is finding it hard to attract new entrants. There are about twenty thousand angora goats farmed in New Zealand, with fewer than five large producers. The rest are more lifestyle farmers with 50 to 200 goats.

A Waipu farmer, David Brown, says goats have a bad name from decades ago when they got sore feet and worms.  Genetic improvements which have come from importing South African and Texan genetics in the 1990's have greatly lessened both problems.

"My son has more limping stock with his Romney texel cross ewes than I do with the angoras."

The Mohair Association has recently hosted G.T. Ferreira, an Australian based, South African mohair expert to give the industry help in improving fibre returns even more.

He says farmers could double their money if they stop producing knitting yarn and start growing longer length fleeces which the weaving manufacturers want.

"By jumping from knitting to weaving where you have fine kids (fleece) at 23 micron and 30 dollars Australian, you can get 58 dollars for weaving for the same micron."

David Brown, along with many other growers, is keen to develop flocks with longer fleeces. "It's doable. It's not imaginary. It's just a matter of scale. We will have amounts in the weaving lines over the next few years."

Ray and Donece McEwan at the Canterbury A and P Show

Ray and Donece McEwan at the Canterbury A and P Show

Photo: Ray McEwen

Herding angora goats

Herding angora goats

Photo: Ray McEwan

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Ice Cream for Ewe

Guy and Sue Trafford in the milking shed

The dairy shed

Photo: RNZ / Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

Guy and Sue Trafford (above) are about to start milking sheep on their property near Darfield in Canterbury.

The milk from their flock of 200 ewes and 50 hoggets will be used to make ice cream and yoghurt.

Setting up a sheep milking operation has been a challenge for the couple who are both Lincoln University lecturers.

"It's not that the people we're dealing with are unreasonable, or what they ask is unreasonable, it's just the lack of a clear pathway of how to do it and the cost along the way that you incur seems unreasonable." Guy says.

The compliance work, especially for a small business that does not fit into an existing model was a major barrier.

"We needed planning consent and building act requirements and now we've got the food safety requirements, so it's a lot to get your head around really."

Until they have all the food safety requirements completed on site, an ice cream company has offered to make their ice cream on a toll basis. Their brand is going to be called Charing Cross which they've created to promote local sheep milk products.

In conjunction with Massey University's sheep dairy conference in March, Sue and Guy plan to have a practical workshop day on the farm for people who are interested in sheep milking.

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Guest - Patrick Materman

Swirl, sniff, gurgle and spit!

Swirl, sniff, gurgle and spit!

Photo: Richard Briggs

The chairman of the 2016 International Sauvignon Blanc Celebration talks about the wine event that was held in Marlborough this week.

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Regional Wrap

Tractor work in Golden Bay

Tractor work in Golden Bay

Photo: RNZ / Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

RSE workers are arriving for the apple harvest, the heat's driving down milk production and pasture growth in Southland is topping out after some good rain.

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