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No. 30 (March 1960)
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FARMING NEWSLETTER

Modern farming needs much business sense and long-term planning. It is necessary to be scientific. Mr W. J. Petersen, Assistant Controller of Maori Land Settlement, will write regular articles for this magazine to give some hints about scientific farming. The Young Leaders Conference believed that Maori farmers need to have more education in agriculture. These articles will do something to supply this need.

Now that all the summer work has been completed and the autumn is here the time has come to prepare for the approaching winter, and the prospect of a new and brighter season ahead.

On the dairy farm the mild yield will be reducing and many of the cows will be showing signs of drying off. A careful examination of the shed sheets should be made so that extra care can be taken to ensure that the late calvers for the next season are kept on full milk for as long a period as possible. The July or early calvers should be carefully dried off by the end of May so as to give them a clear month's spell between seasons. Empty and poor producers should be disposed of as soon as they are dry.

Early calvers are nearly always short of feed during July and August and often in September and as the cows are dried off they do not require so much nutritious food so the opportunity should be taken to close up as much of the farm as possible to provide grass for the early spring calvers. Before closing, each paddock should be harrowed to spread the droppings and then top-dressed with superphosphate. It is always advisable to do the harrowing immediately after rain when the droppings are soft and will spread more rapidly. A check on the fences and gateways should be made, and if there are any drains that need cleaning this should be done to enable all surface water to get away freely.

Autumn is a critical period for dairy calves. Deaths during the winter months can be eliminated if the calves are rotated through the paddocks ahead of the cows at intervals of three to four days. If calves appear unthrifty and scouring they should be drenched with phenothiazine two or three times at three-weekly intervals. Calves treated in this way should have an increased weight of up to 100 lbs. as yearlings, over those confined to a sour calf paddock.

As the milk is decreasing, all saleable pigs, that is baconers and porkers, should be sold as soon as possible and a general stocktaking made

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One recent effort to stimulate butter-fat production by land development settlers was the awarding of certificates for ‘meritorious production’ in fifteen areas in Tokerau. In giving the certificates, size and quality of the farms was taken into consideration, so that even a small farm on poor land could get a certificate if the settler showed the greater ability. The district officer, Mr J. A. McKain handed them over in person at public meetings. Above: the winner in the Whangaruru area, Mr James Stirling Martin with his mother, Mrs Zipporah Stirling. James went farming after his high school education was interrupted by a leg injury. In spite of difficult country, poor access and uneconomic size, he averaged 244 lbs. of butter-fat over a herd of 24 cows. (Photo: Peter Blanc.)

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of the number of store pigs that can be wintered properly. It is a fatal mistake to retain more pigs than can be wintered well. If this mistake is made the sows or mother pigs must suffer and consequently poor litters will result.

Autumn is the time for a general checkup on all farm buildings and piggeries, and any necessary repairs or painting should be carried out. A check should be made also on all farm machinery, implements and tools. Haymaking machinery should be dismantled and carefully cleaned and all parts which are liable to rust should be given a liberal coating of waste oil before being stored away. At the end of the milking season the machines should be dismantled and thoroughly cleaned and any repairs attended to. The separator should also receive careful attention. All rubber or leather belts should be removed from the pulleys and stored in a dry place. Buckets, cream cans, vats, cream coolers and other tinware should be carefully examined and wherever necessary retinning should be done.

ON THE SHEEP FARM

The rams will have been with the ewes now for almost a month, so the flock should be mustered and the rams carefully checked and any poor conditioned rams replaced with fresh rams held for this purpose. At this stage one fresh ram per 100 ewes should be sufficient if the ewes are periodically mustered and held in a corner. After a period of 8 weeks all rams should be removed from the ewes.

Crutching of the dry sheep could be done in early June and the ewes could follow later, but the ewe crutching should not be done too soon before lambing otherwise the wool would have again grown around the udder making it difficult for the lambs to find their food. The weaning of run calves should be attended to right away. Select a well-grassed paddock which is securely fenced for the newly weaned calves. The cows should be held in an adjacent paddock for three or four days or until the calves become accustomed to being on their own. If calves just weaned are kept too far from their mothers they become upset and are liable to force their way through fences and other obstacles in an endeavour to reach their mothers.

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The Governor-General, Viscount Cobham, recently became one of the few Europeans to fish in the Maori-owned Lake Rotoaira.

Accompanied by Mr Feeron Grace, who has recently been appointed by the trustees as official ranger for the lake, Lord Cobham was on a brief visit to the lake as the guest of Ngati Tuwharetoa.

During a short but enjoyable period on the lake, the Governor-General took four rainbow trout in excellent condition, weighing up to five and a half pounds.

To fulfil the growing need for youth leaders in the Maori community, a scheme based broadly on the British Outward Bound organisation is being drafted in Northland. The men behind the idea are the Education Department's two physical education organisers stationed in Whangarei, Messrs P. MacPherson and R. Mackmurdie, and their Kaikohe counterpart, Mr Junior Mataiara. The idea is to seek out and train suitable young men who are close to school leaving age. As well as being taught the fundamentals of youth leadership, these youngsters will be given what Mr Mackmurdie describes as a “severe self-testing.”

As an example, he says the men could be taken into the bush with little money or equipment. They would then be expected to fend for themselves for a given period.

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A new Maori school has been opened at Te Tii on the Bay of Islands coast near Keri Keri. The old block was moved by tractor and modernised and a new block added to hold the 116 pupils, 40 of whom go to school each day by launch.

A fete day was held to mark the opening of the new school and was attended by some 400 people. The school was opened by Mr K. I. Robertson, Education Dept. Officer for Maori Education.