November 21, 2008

Lands & Survey: 9. Sheep and Cattle Breeding in New Zealand.

History of NZ Lands and Survey Department Angus and Romney breeding schemes - Part 9.

By Dr Clive Dalton and Dr Doug Lang

Ram sales
Thanks to Dr Geoff Nicoll of Landcorp, details of the Waihora ram sales were on file. He remembered that he had to produce a report about the exercise for Head Office. Here are the details of the six sales:
  1. 1979. Ballot sale of ex-Nucleus 4th rams to Sheeplan users.
  2. 1980. Ballot sale of ex-Nucleus 4th rams to Sheeplan users.
  3. 1981. Ballot sale of ex-Nucleus 4th rams to Sheeplan users.
  4. 1982. First public auction (Jan 1983); 108 2th rams, 78 sold (av $155); 20 4th rams, all 20 sold (av $343).
  5. 1983. Public auction (Dec 1983): 75 2ths, all 75 sold (av $247); 19 4th rams, all 19 sold ($932).
  6. 1984. Public auction (Dec 1984); 80 2th rams, 50 sold (av $278); 20 4th rams, 14 sold (av $ 854).
After that, Geoff thinks that there were only private sales.

“Sheeplan” was the revised version of the original National Flock Recording Scheme (NFRS). Work started in early 1970 and I was given the job of “Technical Coordinator” to lead a committee of scientists, computer experts, farm advisors and sheep breeders to come up with the best options for ram breeders and their commercial clients for that time. The work went on for at least a couple of years if not more.

The sales were big events. There was the sorting and penning all the rams for inspection, the provision of the data on each ram, and organising the ballot to allow fair allocation of rams to the Sheeplan users in the first three sales.

L&S data handling
The Lands & Survey Department didn’t record their sheep on Sheeplan, as we always felt the size of the operation was too big, and the Sheeplan data turnaround was too slow using the Government’s big computer at Trentham. And the darned thing was always breaking down at critical times to the embarrassment of those of us on the Sheeplan Technical Committee, so farmers never got their data in time and we had to write and apologise to them.

Sheeplan was only one government department using the computer and we didn’t seem to carry much weight with the guru from UK who had to fly out to fix things!

This is why MAF’s computing power at Ruakura was so good, as the people who ran it were so knowledgeable and dedicated. And we made sure they understood the business by taking them to Waihora to get the feel and smell of the operation.

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