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No. 5 (Spring 1953)
– 26 –

FIRST MAORI STUD FARM
ESTABLISHED

For two years now, those in the know have watched with interest the progress of what is probably the first Maori stud farm. Managed by Tutahanga Jones, son of Mr M. R. Jones, the farm has already supplied bull calves to a number of Maori farmers in the King Country.

Pedigree stock has been supplied by Anso Bros., a King Country stud breeding specially for top production. One bull and ten heifers purchased from this stud farm formed the basis of Mr Jones' pedigree herd. At present all bull calves from the pedigree stock are sold, and all heifers kept.

Starting a stud farm is not just a quick way to get rich. The Jones' farm, which has an area of 187 acres and lies on a fertile river flat eight mile out of Otorohanga, had reached a high level of development before any pedigree stock was bought in. In 1937 only a small part of the property was in good pasture; the only housing was a small cabin. The property was then placed under the Maori Land Development Scheme—at that time a revolutionary thing to do in that part of the King Country. The farm improved rapidly, and in 1940 produced over 10,000 lb. of butterfat.

Tui Jones had the good fortune of getting a first-rate farming education. For two years he attended the Ruakura State Farm School, and when he took charge of the property he was well versed in modern methods of farming. He continued to keep in touch with Ruakura, and retained an interest in research and experiment. He introduced rotational grazing, and reduced most of his paddocks to areas of eight to ten acres. When ‘break feeding’ became fashionable he installed an electric fence, and found that this made his pasture go much farther, and also eliminated bloat. In the months of the year when pasture is abundant, he confines his herd with the electric fence within one-half to one acre at a time. An eight-acre paddock might last him seven to eight days. It takes him only about ten minutes to put up an electric fence. One of the great advantages of the electric fence is that it stops the cattle from trampling over the good pasture before it is eaten.

Tui is now cutting up his paddocks smaller still. He thinks three to four acres is the best size for a paddock for the months when the growth of grass is not particularly fast, and the smaller paddocks can be used without the need for an electric fence. This saves him time and batteries at such times of the year.

After a paddock is grazed he harrows it and shuts it up. This ensures the best use of the animal droppings.

Tui is very keen on ensilage pits. He has four of them. He also keeps one big hay paddock. He considers the method of covering ensilage pits with earth and lime old-fashioned. Instead, he runs over them with his tractor a number of times until the grass on the top is wet and mushy. He then leaves the rest to the sun, which will bake this grass into a hard, rain-proof crust.

Tui's delight in experimenting once caused him a nasty shock, although he had been right all the time. He had read that, with machine-milking, there was no need to finish off by hand-stripping. A machine was just as efficient as the hand, according to the books, as long as the machine was switched off as soon as the milk stopped coming. Tui tried this, and to his horror found his butterfat production dropping, so he went back to stripping by hand. The next year, an American scientist, Professor Peterson, toured New Zealand, advocating precisely this modern method of machine-milking. Tui took the opportunity to ask a few questions, and it turned out that it was not the new

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General view of the farm.

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Development of Maori land in the King Country
Photo
: J. Ashton

method but the cows that were at fault. Being accustomed to hand-stripping, they resented the change. Since talking to Professor Peterson, Tui has tried the new system on heifers coming into milk for the first time, and it proved entirely successful. Another idea taught him at Professor Peterson's lecture was to dry off cows without preparation. It is possible to do this even while the cows are still milking well, without harming them.

About six years ago Tui joined the local herd-testing group, which helped him considerably in improving his stock. At present, while he has stud stock, it is of course obligatory to do this, to prove his sires.

In 1951 he asked the Department's farm supervisor, Mr O'Connor, whether the Board of Maori Affairs would finance his buying some pedigree stock. He already had a pedigree bull, and wanted ten heifers which would cost sixty guineas each. The Department's opinion was that Tui ‘appeared to know where he was going’. A stud farm, they said, would ‘certainly be a new departure in Maori farming, but it will lift Maori farming morale’. The loan was approved. Since the pedigree stock was bought, production on the Jones farm

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Cowshed of Tui Jones

increased from 14,000 to 18,000 lb. butterfat, although the number of cows milked remained about the same. Tui believes in heavy culling. He wants to have a full pedigree herd as soon as possible, although he usually keeps heifer calves from those of his grade cows that produce over 400 lb, of fat. Part of his succes is undoubtedly due to the Waipa river, which in the summer gives him an excellent watersupply; the paddocks are laid out in such a way that every one of them borders on the river. Yet he could never have advanced so much without carefully following the best and most modern farming practice in every respect. He takes every opportunity to visit places like Ruakura, and has even organised parties of Maori farmers to go there. His experience is that all the country's demonstration farms and research stations stand wide open for any Maori farmers, groups or individuals, who are interested enough to pay them a visit.

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Tui Jones's son and pet calf