Thursday, 27 August 2020 08:53

Getting things back on track at White Rock

Written by  Peter Burke
The stunning white rock formation that dominates the shoreline of White Rock Station, which the property is named after. The stunning white rock formation that dominates the shoreline of White Rock Station, which the property is named after.

As well as the family reorganisation, Tim Ritchie and his cousin later invited well-known Wairarapa farmer and Romney breeder Derek Daniell to take a shareholding in White Rock.

The goal was to get it back to a state where it was a profitable and sustainable business.

Daniel’s Wairere Romney rams played a big part in lifting the station’s lambing percentage from just over 80% to the present 130%-plus.

Today, the 3800-ha farm runs 12,000 stock units, which is mix of sheep and cattle – the latter mainly Angus with a bit of Hereford in the mix.

The farm is summer dry, so there is an imperative to get the lambs off early to the store market and preserve the feed for the capital stock. Even the ewe lambs are grazed away from the farm and returned later for tupping. The same applies to grazing cattle off farm when there is a feed deficit. 

“Having the capital stock – some 7000 breeding ewes and 400 cows – in good condition is the absolute focus of our business,” Ritchie says. 

Another feature of White Rock is its all-weather airstrip. 

Ritchie says when Derek Daniell came on board they undertook a major development programme to tackle scrub reversion – and the farm was in desperate need of lime, fertiliser and new grass seed. So, they constructed an all-weather concrete airstrip on one of the ridges above the farm. 

It must surely rank as one of the seven wonders of the aviation world. It’s a downhill strip and the aircraft flies off the end of the ridge into the valley below. It would terrify most city types, but Ritchie says it means they are able to apply fertiliser at any time of the year.

It’s not just cattle and sheep, but advantage has been taken of the large areas of mānuka on the property to establish a lucrative mānuka honey operation. There are over 500 hives on the property, which provide White Rock with a significant income – especially since wool prices have fallen sharply. 

Ritchie says the price they get for wool doesn’t even pay for the cost of shearing.

He says in terms of income, sheep are number one followed by cattle and mānuka honey. 

More like this

White Rock Station’s revival

One of New Zealand’s most historic sheep stations – White Rock – has a new lease of life thanks to family members who wanted to preserve the property for future generations.

Meat industry stalwart signs off

A man who has spent more than 40 years in the meat industry says the best thing that happened to the industry in NZ was the UK joining the European Union in 1973.

Can we open up India?

The Meat Industry Association (MIA) says the recent business delegation visit to India was very timely.

Featured

 

Fonterra back in the black

Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell says 2019/20 was a good year for the co-op, with profit up, debt down and a strong milk price.

Strategy to reduce heifer mastitis

First calvers are more prone to mastitis than older cows. According to DairyNZ, farmers must choose a strategy that best suits their herd, farm team, and budget.

National

Helping grow farming’s future

John Jackson’s ability for future and critical thinking saw him deeply involved in the development of an agribusiness programme that…

Nothing sustainable without profit

Chair of Dairy Environment Leaders programme Melissa Slattery believes that sustainable farming is highly important to young farmers.

Machinery & Products

JD updates header line-up

John Deere has updated its entire header line-up for combines to include the new HDR Rigid Cutterbar Drapers, RDF HydraFlex…

Hybrid harvesters launched

New Holland has entered the world of hybrid headers, launching a new machine that blends its conventional threshing drum and…

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Burn!

OPINION: This old mutt had to have a giggle at the dig Feds recently made at the Green Party in the…

Why?

OPINION: Your canine crusader was aghast to read that the prices of zucchini and cucumbers rose more than 30% in…

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter