Our 5th Business Agri story began over 25 years ago, when we had the chance to go farming and raise our family. Heading out to Taranaki hill country, Pat a veterinarian and me with an Ag past, thought we had this farming ‘wired’ but how wrong we were! Sure, we could grow healthy looking ewes, but for the life of us, we could not get them in lamb. In fact, as their weights increased to a respectable 60kg the scanning % dropped to a miserable 100%. CEO at Stratford Vets at the time, Pat really questioned…” Just what sort of vet am I when I can’t even get my own ewes in lamb “?
Enter a fertiliser rep, who suggested taking a grass sample even though he wasn’t sure at all what we would find. Analysing that grass sample proved to be a game-changer!
We identified a selenium, copper, cobalt and iodine insufficiency which hadn’t show up in the standard blood and liver diagnostics. It wasn’t an outright deficiency, but our analysis showed there was insufficient minerals in the diet being offered to support the level of performance we were expecting, and the level these ewes had the potential to achieve. This is what we had been looking for… We could answer the question “What’s missing?” and do something about it. Supporting our ewe’s immune system through correct mineral support was the next game-changer!
Not only did scanning lift to over 160%, excitingly our wastage numbers reduced dramatically. While the national average scanning to docking loss is 19%, our loss repeatedly averaged 11% with nil shepherding. Boyed on by this success, Pat tackled the thorny issue of chronic high empty rates in dairy herds, and as they say… The rest is history.
Using this new knowledge gained from understanding the diet better, farmers throughout NZ have been on the front-foot when it comes to managing the nutrient cycle on farm. It starts with the diet and identifying risks to performance, but also takes into consideration fertilizer choices and nutrient management… We call it the Animal Centred Approach. Applying this methodology where analyzing grass is the first step in the farming process is revolutionary... After all, “We are what we eat”!