On a remote 21,000 hectare Falkland Islands farm, a set of rugged Te Pari cattle yards have helped farmer Paul Phillips to simplify his management practices and dramatically improve the calving percentage of his small beef herd.
“The substantial new yards have given us the ability to manage our herd with confidence and have assisted us to reach 80 percent calving this year, almost double what we achieved a couple of years ago,” says Paul.
Until recent years, Falkland farming was solely wool based. However the Falkland Islands government has built an abbatoir that is now fully EU accredited – opening new opportunities for beef farming and the development of dual purpose sheep breeds in the region.
“In the past cattle have never been a profitable option for Falkland farmers as the local demand has not been high enough. But with the opportunity to export and oil extraction looming closer, the demand for quality young beef now far outstrips supply.”
Paul says the main problem for Falkland farmers moving into cattle is the lack of infrastructure on their farms to manage a cattle herd.
“We already had around 50 cows on this farm but were only getting 30 to 40 percent calving as traditionally cows are only mated here every two years. We knew we would have to invest in some cattle yards to increase production levels and cement the future of our herd. So in 2010, I decided to contact Te Pari after seeing their advertisement in a New Zealand farming magazine that a close farmer friend of mine subscribes to. I do enjoy reading the magazine to see what can be implemented on our farm as I look to New Zealand as a world leader in farming.”
Paul says he chose Te Pari cattle yards because of the company’s good reputation and his desire for a New Zealand built product.
“Like the Falkland Islands, you have salty air in New Zealand that requires a very good galvanised product for outside use.”
Before Paul, his wife Shula and their six year old daughter Bekka took over Hope Cottage Farm from Paul’s parents in 2009, he was a travelling sheep shearer, working all over the UK, Italy, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
Multi-skilled Paul is also a carpenter by trade, so he built the yards himself when the Te Pari components arrived.
“The foundation plans were very good which made the yards easy to assemble.”
The Phillips are now into their second year of an AI programme and have moved to yearly calving since putting up the new yards.
“Without the yards we would not be able to do even the simplest of management practices, such as pregnancy testing our cows. Now we can offload dry cows before winter sets in to utilise our crops to maximum benefit. We are also taking weaning weights percentage to mother as part of our selection process, something we would never be doing without the facilities.”
Paul says he is “passionate” about Falkland farming and its traditional practices, but also understands the need for change to increase production for survival in the modern world.
To this end he is focusing on improving meat production across the 9000 sheep and 170 cattle on Hope Cottage Farm which is located around an hour’s drive from the Falkland Island’s’ capital, Stanley.
“We are introducing dual-purpose Merino genetics and are set on developing an Angus herd. We’re currently looking for Angus semen, ideally from a high country farm in New Zealand.”
Even from so far across the Atlantic, Paul says he has no regrets about investing in his tough, practical New Zealand made Te Pari stock handling yards.
“They are a real pleasure to work in and with good facilities, better management naturally follows.”