Farming in Hawkes Bay at Waiwhenua
Waiwhenua is a full working family run farm run by Kirsty and her business partner Gary.
The name of the farm Waiwhenua is a Maori word meaning Wai- water and Whenua- ground or land. So we translate the name as “land between the water” as water ground is not that appropriate considering we do get quite dry during most summers. All animals are grown outside on fresh clean pasture.
Farming Through the Seasons in Hawkes Bay
We have four distinctive seasons where temperatures range from below 0°C to in excess of 30°C.
We have a main rainy season during the winter getting very muddy at times. The summer season can in some years get very dry and occasionally we get a major drought that can be very difficult to deal with. Below is the main monthly activities undertaken on the farm although most months are spent doing all the other normal running operations including stock movements and keeping water, fences and general maintenance up to date on the farm.
January – Holiday time of us all if we have the work finished prior to Xmas
February – April - Drafting lambs for market
March – April – Cultivating summer crops into winter crops. Wean fawns.
May – June – Preparing for winter. Lamb shearing.
June - July – Start feeding out winter crops, moving feed breaks and feeding out to stock
August – Lambing time, moving breaks and feeding out
September – Main stock movements to markets
October –Summer crops planted. Buy calves.
November – Stock to markets and new stock purchased. Irrigation season starts. Hay and silage making.
December – Irrigration season, shearing, weaning, stock to market, buy lambs.
The sheep policy on the farm is predominately breeding and fattening up until now but this year we are taking a new approach by growing lambs for the winter market. We will fatten approximately 4000 lambs over winter. These will be purchased November – April. They will be fattened on crops over the summer and marketed over this time to weights in excess of 36kg live weight. These lambs will be shorn up to two times during this time by contractors.
The main markets for lamb meat will be USA, Europe and the UK however increasing market potential in Asia is looking promising to us as well.
We currently run bull beef. These cattle come out of the dairy industry as bull calves. We buy them at 100kg or about 3 months of age and fatten to target weights of approximately 600kg. This usually takes two years to achieve but is season dependant. Winter time is busy with cattle as they are either behind electric wires on crops or on rotation grazing regime.
The cattle are all bought in for drenching at least twice a year and regular weighing will help us achieve the target weights required.
The main market for beef is the USA ground beef market. ie McDonalds hamburgers. We get very good returns for this beef and is our predominant source of income.
We breed and fatten all deer produced on the property. The deer fawn November and December and are weaned in March. Most male deer (stags) are sold after the velvet is removed in November- January.
The best of the stags are kept for future velveting and will remain in a herd especially for this operation. The deer are bought in twice a year for animal health reasons.
All velvet is sold frozen. Our main market is for velvet in Asian medicine. The deer meat (venison) is all sold fresh cuts to USA and Europe however new markets are opening up for this fabulous low cholesterol meat.