The group of students and faculty admire the beautiful views at Te Mania Angus.
The group of students and faculty admire the beautiful views at Te Mania Angus.

By Kiera Leddy
    
Oklahoma State University faculty members, Clint Rusk, Department of Animal and Food Sciences faculty head, and Adele Tongco, retired College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources international trip coordinator, led a two weeklong international trip to New Zealand this spring. The coordinators along with 34 students visited a variety of farms. The majority of farm stops were to cow-calf operations. The group also stopped at dairy, sheep, fruit, deer and vegetable farms.
The first cow-calf operation the group stopped at was Kairuru Polled Herefords on the north island of New Zealand. The cattle are completely raised on grass with vitamin and mineral supplements if necessary, they said. They said they raise their yearling bulls to 900 pounds. Most of their bulls are sold to dairy farms as they breed dairy cows to Herefords, so the calves are more marketable, they said. Baldy faces are extremely popular among market crosses in New Zealand, they said. In addition to their polled Hereford stud, Kairuru Polled Herefords said they own a sale barn for dairy beef calves to be sold.
The first stop on the south island was Silverstream Charolais. Silverstream Charolais, owned and operated by Brent Fisher, focuses their genetic selection on customer needs and bone structure equipped to handle the hill country. Fisher said the challenge with genetic selection is incorporating good quality genetics with the physical ability to live on the rugged terrain. Fisher said his wife obtained a Ph. D. in genetics, which has helped their herd tremendously. He shared in addition to raising bulls, their farm fattens a thousand cattle a year on grass and fodder beet. He added cattle can put on two pounds of weight a day in the winter and four to five pounds of weight a day in the spring. He added these gains are extremely uncommon in New Zealand, especially on the south island. The cattle are harvested at 14 to 15 months and weigh approximately 650 pounds, he said.
A trip favorite, Te Mania Angus, was located along the ocean’s coast. The brother who manages the cattle herd, Will Wilding, said Te Mania was the first bull stud in New Zealand to adopt the performance selection for traits. They still refer to phenotype, but mainly use EPDs, he said. Will said they calve out 550 calves a year. The other brother, Sam Wilding, takes care of the crops on the farm. Like most farms in New Zealand, they also grow fodder beet. Sam said he attended Lincoln University and studied plant science. Will, on the other hand, went to Canada and worked on a bull stud and rodeoed for 18 months before he moved back to the family farm.
Mt. Linton is one of the largest privately-owned farms in New Zealand and is located on the south island, said Ceri Lewis the general farm manager. Ceri started managing the program in 2003 and has focused much of his efforts on conservation practices. He added the station is converting about 3,000 acres of native land to develop it into a more productive grassland. The program takes four years to convert the land and will improve the stocking rate from 2 head to possibly 10 head he said. The program does not cultivate the land, he said. Instead, a helicopter sprays the weeds and an airplane spreads the seeds. He said the station finishes approximately 40,000 lambs and 1,500 head of cattle.
Ceri said the cattle are marketed at 1,300 pounds of live weight. He added the cattle are finished on fodder beet, much like the rest of the cattle in New Zealand. The cows are artificially inseminated at a 62 to 72 percent conception rate. The heifers are also artificially inseminated with a 67 percent conception rate. The calves are weaned at 120 days which is earlier than the average in New Zealand (200 days).  Of the different beef herds in New Zealand, Mt. Linton is known for having the highest marbling herd in New Zealand, he said. Before the cattle are sold to market they are scanned for marbling, which has a 94% accuracy rate.
The trip was viewed as a success as students returned to the U.S. with a broader understanding of international agriculture. The trip is expected to take place again in 2020.