Q. What does being 'organic' actually mean, is it just not using pesticide sprays?
A. Organic is one of those words that is often bandied about but also often misunderstood. It is actually a farming approach that uses the natural biological activity in the soil to best advantage to grow good grass/crops and therefore grow healthy livestock. Harmful chemicals are not used as they tend to destroy the natural balance of beneficial plants and animals in the environment, but there is a whole lot more to organic farming than that.
Q. If I buy organic livestock will they be fine on my own property without chemical drenches etc?
A. It depends on how you are farming your own property. Organically reared livestock need to be kept on organically managed land to thrive. They can only use their own natural immunity and resistance to parasites and diseases if they are receiving optimum nutrition from organically managed grass, and also if infection rates are kept to a minimum using methods of organic livestock management like stock rotations, cross-grazing etc. If organically reared stock are being kept alongside non-organically reared animals, and are not being kept on land that has been converted over a period of several years to organic farming, then they need to be managed in the same way as other conventionally managed, non-organic livestock. However, they will tend to be naturally hardier and healthier than conventionally reared stock and will particularly thrive if given minerals in licks, troughs, drenches, supplements etc.
Q. Can you recommend some good reading material on organic farming?
A. Yes, there are now quite a few good books available. One that I can recommend is available from the Soil and Health Association in an A4 looseleaf binder, called the Organic Pastoral Resource Guide. at $40.
Pat Coleby's set of books on natural farming , although written from an Australian perspective, are also very applicable here in NZ and give useful information for different types of livestock. See also our web links.
Q. So what does 'certified' organic mean?
A. Being certified as organic means that an independent certifying agency carries out annual audits on your farm and farming methods to ensure that you are complying to an approved organic standard to justify labeling your products as organic. Unless you are certified any claim to be farming organically cannot be substantiated. There are four approved certifying agencies in New Zealand, BioGro, AsureQuality, Demeter and Organic Farm NZ, and each tends to cater to a particular market sector. Certification is only required if you are intending to sell organic produce, and is not necessarily needed for hobby or lifestyle farmers.
Q. Can you deliver ?
A. Yes, we can deliver livestock within the greater Auckland region. If you live further afield we use reliable livestock trucking companies and so can provide delivery even down to the lower south island. We can discuss delivery options with you to be tailored to your location and needs. Many customers prefer to pick up themselves using a covered trailer to ensure their newly purchased livestock receive the best care and spend the shortest time on the road.
Q. Can we come and see your livestock?
A. Yes, certainly. Once you have made your interests known to us and we have verified that we have stock available we can arrange a viewing time. We are open Saturday mornings to cater for people who are busy working all week. We can also send you pictures of livestock available by internet.
Q. We've heard that some Wiltshire sheep don't shed well, are yours fully shedding sheep?
A. Yes, we have been importing sires and some ewes since 2002 to get a fully shedding flock as many of the sheep in NZ didn't shed well. we have now achieved a high percentage shedding flock and will only sell sheep that we can guarantee are full-shedding.
Q. What are pedigree livestock?
A. Pedigree animals have their parentage known and able to be traced back at least 4-5 generations to prove that they have been bred only with other pedigree members of their breed. This ensures that the animal that you see in front of you when you purchase it will 'breed true', that is that it's offspring will look almost exactly like the parents. This is particularly important if it is the particular features of that breed that you are interested in. If animals do not come from pedigree stock then their offspring and breeding performance will be unpredictable.