As happy mustering a 600ha block in Central Otago as he is sitting in the office analysing production data, David brings a thirst for knowledge, a deep interest in technology and stockmanship skills to his job on the 9300ha Linnburn Station nearly Ranfurly.
David has been named one of two Beef + Lamb New Zealand-sponsored Sheep Industry Ambassadors and will represent this country at the 2018 LambEx Conference in Perth, Australia in August. As well as attending the conference David, and fellow ambassador Katey Craig will travel between Melbourne and Adelaide looking at different farm systems and sharing ideas with sheep industry representatives from Australia and USA.
“It’s an unreal opportunity and I’m really excited about being able to come back and share what I’ve learnt with like-minded farmers.”
Amongst the sessions David is particularly looking forward to is one looking at the top five future technologies for the sheep industry and one discussing alternative forages for finishing sheep.
This fits in with some of the work David has been involved with on Linnburn Station where they have been establishing lucerne with novel cover crops such as sunflowers, sorghum and buckwheat and using these mixes for finishing stock.
For someone with a real interest in agronomy, livestock nutrition and technology these unconventional crops have been fascinating, made more interesting by the fact that all the sheep – 10,000 ewes and hoggets and – on Linnburn Station have EID tags which means they can analyse the impact these crops are having on growth rates and performance.
David was instrumental in getting the farm set up on FarmIQ and with such a large flock of recorded sheep, the management team have been using the farm management software to its full potential.
As a shepherd, David is well qualified. He has an Honours degree in Agricultural Science from Lincoln University and spent his final year at University looking at the economic viability of developing pastures in dryland hill country – marrying computer modelling with real farm examples. As well as looking at the economics of developing often marginal hill country, he was looking at the pasture species which helped flatten out the pasture growth curve and provide farmers with more feed-driven options.
Leaving university 18 months ago, he headed south keen to get a team of dogs and get some experience under his belt. Part of the attraction of the job at Linnburn Station was the willingness of the owners and management team to challenge the status quo and try new management techniques.
The farm has a mix of extensive country and irrigated and dryland intensive finishing land, which gives David a good mix of experience and ensures there is plenty of variety in his job.
While David is just embarking on his career in the sheep and beef industry, he does have his sights set on either leasing or farm ownership – but is eager to learn as much as possible and be part of the future of this country’s world-leading sheep industry.
Esther Guy-Meakin, B+LNZ’s Manager for International Trade, says the Sheep Industry Ambassador programme is an important mechanism for building relationships with other industries, particularly the US sheep industry that has been sensitive about NZ imports in the past.
“Strong relationships with farmers and industry leaders from New Zealand’s key trading partners is really important.
“We are really proud to have these two talented young farmers represent our sheep industry overseas.”