Springing into action

It’s spring in New Zealand, which of course means it’s lambing season – a critical period for everyone involved with Maimoa, and an incredibly busy time of the year for farmers right around the country.

Hands-on, around-the clock

Mark Chrystall, who runs Spring Farms on a little over 2,500ha in Taihape (a rural town in the middle of the North Island), is one of those farmers. The days start earlier than normal during lambing, with a drive around each paddock always being the first thing on the agenda. These trips, which are regular occurrences throughout the day, provide an opportunity to check animal welfare to ensure or mitigate any bearing or lambing issues among ewes and hoggets, and pick up any ‘orphans’.

Caring for those orphans is a time-consuming task in itself, with Mark and his team hand-feeding each lamb until they can successfully mother it on.

Always innovating

Feed is a constant consideration, with a lot of shuffling required to ensure an even supply across the various farm properties. At Spring Farms, three-quarters of the lambs they sell are raised on chicory – an approach which has produced better yield and more fat cover.

The decision to shift to a chicory-based system is just one example of the way farming in New Zealand continues to evolve. Another is the concept of the winter shear – a second shear which sees ewes head into lambing with just a couple of months’ worth of wool on their backs. Although that may seem counter-intuitive in the depths of a Kiwi winter, it actually encourages mums-to-be to seek more shelter prior to lambing – a trait which can dramatically enhance survival rates when the weather is variable.

Team work makes the dream work

Lambing season means 6-8 weeks of constant attention from farmers. But being part of a strong network certainly makes the job feel easier, according to Mark. “We’re very lucky to have such a great relationship with Maimoa,” he says. “ANZCO Foods have a great procurement system which keeps everyone really well-informed. And the support is exceptional – from our local rep right through to the CEO, it always feels like we’ve got plenty of people we can turn to if needed. It’s certainly a team effort at this time of the year!”


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