Rural Supplies
4 December 2019

PGG Wrightson Wool November Update

This week The Country's Jamie Mackay catches up with PGG Wrightson's GM for wool Grant Edwards to talk about the wool industry.

Since their last chat, Edwards says that the market has been steady across the board for all wool types.

Wool auctions have been at the A and P shows in Hawkes Bay and Christchurch. These have resulted in strong volumes of wool and great to see support for the market.

The Christchurch auctions turned around about 7.2 million dollars of wool within 4.5 hours of selling. Edwards mentions that this is a great show piece for farmers to see their product selling

Traditionally at this time of year the bulk of fleece wool comes off as lambs are weaned off and shearing begins.

Mackay mentions that the harvest of the wool clip is spread out over 12 months, compared to the traditional mad rush September – January shearing season. Edwards agrees as there is a lot more second shearing now.

Wool preparation and contamination continues to be an issue as Mackay brings up the discounting of wool due to staining by permanent markers at scanning time.

Edwards adds that preparation is always key and that it comes down to the farmers paying attention to this at the time of shearing.

Mackay notes that it has been very wet in some parts of the country and this might result in yellowing and discolouration. Edwards adds that this could be the case, particularly with Southland and humidity in the North Island, but it will just be something that farmers will need to keep an eye on.

Mackay wraps up by mentioning that the IWTO (International Wool Textile Organization) conference is in Queenstown next week, and that it is great to have international wool partners come to New Zealand to discuss the future of wool.
3 December 2019

Livestock Market Update Nov 29 2019

PGG Wrightson Livestock General Manager Peter Moore joins Mark Leishman on the daily report to discuss how the livestock market is tracking as we wrap up November.
Rural Diary
1 December 2019 External Supplier

Gentle and effective flystrike protection

Flystrike is an awful disease, where struck sheep can die within 48 hours. Early signs of flystrike can be difficult to observe, so prevention is your best option. 

Wairoa-based sheep and beef farmer, Jonathan Neilson relies on Cyrex™ Liquid for the prevention and treatment of flystrike, as it has proven to be effective year after year.
Jonathan is Farm Manager at Pihanui Station, which is 1,360 ha, mostly south facing and typically rolling hill country. The station is home to approximately 6,500 Romney sheep, with 1,100 head of cattle grazed over winter.

The Pihanui team work closely with the team at PGG Wrightson Wairoa. “We do all our animal health and cropping through PGG Wrightson and really value their input on-farm,” says Jonathan. “I probably talk to Store Manager, Michael (Redward) at least weekly.” Pihanui Station is also supported by PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative, Paul Kahaki.  

Michael notes that weather and flies probably provide the biggest challenges to farmers in the area. Situated north of Napier and south of Gisborne, the environmental conditions are both a benefit and a challenge to sheep farmers. There are dry and humid conditions from about mid-November through to April. The heat and humidity through summer and autumn create ideal conditions for fly activity and the animals are hugely susceptible to flystrike.

“Of course, the weather is changeable. This year, we saw flystrike cases as late as July!” explains Michael.

“Cyrex Liquid has worked to protect and treat the sheep on Pihanui Station for several years,” Michael notes. 

“It is a good product for preventing flystrike, but it also kills any live maggots on the sheep. I believe it is one of the most superior dips on the market for longevity on the animal.” 

“Most farmers use it during flystrike season, some also use it on rams prior to mating for protection against lice,” Michael adds. 

Cyrex Liquid is designed to eliminate flystrike, maggots and lice in sheep. It provides flystrike protection for up to 12 weeks, depending on the season.

In Jonathan’s opinion, Cyrex is gentler than other products he has used in the past. 

“I like Cyrex because it’s not as hard on the sheep, other products used to burn their skin,” he says. “It is also more effective in small doses, it does not take much to treat a sheep with active flystrike.”

Cyrex contains both Cyromazine and Spinosad, making it highly effective in killing flies and maggots. With no organo-phosphates, it is also safer for humans to handle. For best results, Cyrex should be applied to dry wool.

“We like the 12 weeks of protection for peace of mind. Plus, it is guaranteed to kill any maggots on the sheep, so we don’t have to physically check every animal,” Jonathan adds.
Jonathan and his team treat the hoggets with Cyrex at the start of November. Every other sheep is dosed at the end of November, at weaning. The lambs are treated again post-shearing and the ewes again pre-mating (normally mid-February).

“Cyrex is very reliable,” concludes Jonathan. “It costs a bit, so we wouldn’t use it if it wasn’t effective!”

Sponsored by Elanco


External Supplier

Rural Diary
1 December 2019 Andrew Dowling

Think zinc to protect against facial eczema

Managing Facial Eczema (FE) requires a multipronged approach that involves reducing spore intake and providing zinc as a prophylaxis and therapy. 

FE is caused by a mycotoxin produced by the fungus Pithomyces chartarum growing in pasture dead matter. This fungus multiplies rapidly when overnight temperatures are above 13 degrees Celsius and when there is moisture available. The fungal spores are ingested by livestock and release a toxin called sporidesmin, which is concentrated in the bile of the liver causing significant liver damage. This causes phylloerythrin, a breakdown product of chlorophyll which builds up in the blood stream and reacts with sunlight causing photosensitivity and the lesions we recognise as FE. By the time you see the physical signs of FE, there is already significant liver damage in a large proportion of the mob. 

Zinc helps to reduce FE incidence. The mycotoxin in sporidesmin is a thiol compound. Thiols react with certain metals to form stable compounds called mercaptides that do not cause tissue damage. Zinc is a mercaptide forming metal and is able to prevent and limit tissue damage from the sporidesmin. It is important to note that chelated zinc does not have this protective effect. 

Zinc prevention needs to occur two to three weeks prior to the risk period to build up protective levels in the animal (see Zinc dosing steps). When spore counts are rising towards 30,000, begin zinc supplementation so that by the time counts actually reach 30,000, the animals are receiving 2 g of zinc per 100 kg. 

The most effective treatment for preventing facial eczema is the use of The Time Capsule®. It contains zinc oxide, providing four weeks protection in cattle and six weeks in sheep. Repeated treatments extend this protection period. It is a safe and easy-to-use bolus, that leaves no residue and removes the guess work from dosing.

In a 2019 trial¹, The Time Capsule was administered to cattle on two farms over a period of two months. Animals were blood sampled and weighed each week to determine liver function and serum zinc levels. The Time Capsule performed well with serum zinc levels rising quickly in all animals to be greater than the protective level of 18 umol per L at the first sampling one week after administration. The levels remained consistently protective through the eight week study.

Liver function in the animals remained well within the normal parameters indicating that the cattle were protected. There was no relationship seen between the serum zinc levels and weight gain. Weight gain was not affected by the zinc treatment on the two farms.

If animals are affected with clinical FE, it is still worthwhile treating them with zinc. Treatment helps to reduce the continuing liver damage and allow for recovery. Zinc can also be supplied through supplementation in water and feed using products like Zinc Oxide, Zinc Sulphate Heptahydrate and Zinc Sulphate Monohydrate. If you are going to supply the zinc through water or feed, give animals an oral drench to lift levels quickly and safely. The zinc content of supplements varies, so check with your PGG Wrightson store or Technical Field Representative to calculate the correct dose for the product you are using. Blood samples can be analysed to check that the animals are receiving a protective dose.

For more advice around FE treatment or prevention, contact your local PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative or store. 

Zinc dosing: Steps for when to start treatment 

  • Step 1: 
    Monitor regional spore counts
    When regional counts trend upwards to reach 20,000, continue to Step 2.
  • Step 2: 
    Monitor farm specific counts
    Choose four paddocks that are representative of the farm. When farm specific counts rise to reach 30,000 continue to Step 3.
  • Step 3: 
    Weigh a selection of cattle
    Accurate live weight measurement is essential to ensure the correct bolus size or mixing rate is being used. Guesswork leads to error!
  • Step 4: 
    Dose cattle with full zinc rates
    If spore counts are over 30,000, cattle should be dosed with a full dose of zinc: 2 g of elemental zinc per 100 kg liveweight per day.
  • Step 5: 
    Is my programme working?
    Have you checked your dosing method is effective? Recent New Zealand trial work¹ has highlighted that approximately 70 percent of zinc dosing programmes don’t achieve protective levels. Measure serum zinc and GGT three to six weeks into your programme.

 ¹ 2019 New Zealand trial approved by an animal ethics commitee, conducted by an independent research company.

Sponsored by Agritrade

Andrew Dowling

Rural Diary
1 December 2019 Matthew Crampton

Insect control using IPM in forage brassicas

The days of spraying broad spectrum insecticides every time insects are seen in a crop are over. We now have the ability to make informed decisions using an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach and achieve better crops.

In previous years if insects were seen in a crop, it was sprayed with a broad spectrum insecticide. This was all that was available to us, but with modern science and more selective insecticides, we now have the ability to alter farming techniques and rotations to discourage pest insects and use selective insecticides as a precision tool to target them. 

Most of the insects in your crops are carnivorous insects that eat other insects, which means most of the insects are beneficial to our crops. These are termed ‘beneficial insects’. What we do on-farm affects the populations of both beneficial and pest insects. An example is caterpillars which are a problem every year in forage brassica crops. Diamondback moth caterpillar populations are affected by the number of eggs that the moth lays. Some weeds flowering in a crop can act as a source of nectar to the diamondback moth, increasing the number of eggs they lay and so the number of caterpillars in your crop. Controlling weeds can help reduce caterpillar populations in your forage brassica crops.

When planning your farm rotations, take into account that pests build up in crop paddocks so don’t plant the same crop in the same paddock year after year and plan a good crop rotation. It is a simple decision and doesn’t usually cost much but can have a big impact on pest populations on your farm. 

Beneficial insects are everywhere and forage brassicas are no exception. Some of the ones I see when walking crops are lacewings, hoverfly larvae and parasitic wasps. All of these are sensitive to broad spectrum insecticides, but by using a product which only targets a pest insect, we can protect these beneficial insects while preventing any further damage to the crop. 

One example of how you find out if your crop contains beneficial insects is to look for parasitized aphids. Parasitized aphids are much larger than healthy aphids because they contain the parasitic wasp which is growing inside them. A large number of parasitized aphids and only a few healthy aphids tells us we won’t need to use an insecticide for aphid control and can then focus on what the caterpillar population is doing, reducing the impact on the environment. 

If you would like to get more information about IPM in your forage brassica crops, contact your local PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative who has access to the latest information and products to suit an IPM approach.

Controlling problem weeds

Some weed populations build up on-farm over time, and it takes a concerted effort to get on top of them. Examples I have come across in New Zealand are horehound, ragwort, Californian thistle, nasella tussock and yellow bristle grass. Use the following three suggestions to help prevent problem weeds getting established on areas of your farm.

  • Step 1: 
    Control the plants the first time you see them on your farm. The stock yards are a good place to look, also watch feeding areas if you have brought in feed.
  • Step 2: 
    Prevent any new weeds from flowering and seeding. Each plant can produce hundreds to thousands of seeds each year so a small amount of prevention is a good idea.
  • Step 3: 
    Find out the best control options for the target weed. This could be spraying or sometimes manual removal.

If you need help identifying a plant you don’t recognise, contact your local PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative.


Matthew Crampton

Rural Diary
1 December 2019 Gary Bosley

Don't let disease rob your maize crop

Maize gets a number of diseases and they can all affect the final yield, but one of the most damaging is Northern Leaf Blight (NLB) caused by the fungus Exserohilium turcicum. 
NLB overwinters in infected maize leaves, husks and trash from the previous crop. The NLB fungal spores are produced when environmental conditions are favourable in the spring and early summer; then with the aid of rain splash and wind, NLB infects the new plant growing in the same or neighbouring paddock.

New developing leaves that are exposed to periods exceeding 12 hours of wet or damp conditions and temperatures between 18 to 27 degrees are susceptible to infection from NLB if the fungal spores are present. Then heavy dews and warm humid conditions spread the disease rapidly and move the infection to the lower leaves and cob. The most common and most damaging time for infection in New Zealand is December to January.

Yield loss from NLB is driven by the loss of leaf area. With weather conditions favouring infection from the early tassel stage in the crop, yield can be impacted by as much as 30 percent. With an infection later than this stage, the impact is considerably less and there is an increased risk of lodging.

So what can you do to manage the risk?

  1. Crop rotation
    Growing maize crops back-to-back in the same paddock increases the amount of inoculum passed from one crop to the next, so try to avoid this.
  2. Maize grain
    Crops of maize grown after a maize grain crop are more susceptible to infection than after a silage maize crop because more stova is left after harvest.
  3. Cultivation
    If you fully cultivate after harvesting the maize, burying all of the residue, then there is less plant material to infect. Direct drilling, minimal cultivation and strip tilling leave trash on the surface can lead to an infection risk to the next crop.
  4. Hybrid selection
    All major seed breeders publish the susceptibility of each hybrid to NLB, so when choosing your hybrid, make sure you take this into account.
  5. Planting date
    Late planted crops are at higher risk from developing NLB as there is more inoculum around in the environment from earlier planted and infected crops. The later planted crops are more likely to be at an earlier growth stage when infected.
  6. Fungicides
    There are a few products with activity on NLB but they have to be sprayed either before or at early infection, protecting the plant from infection rather than trying to cure it. The best time to prevent the worst impact of disease is at early tassel stage; usually this has to be done by an aircraft because of the crop height.
  7. Monitor 
    Ensure you monitor the crop through the high risk infection period and growth stage.

For more advice on how to manage and control NLB, contact your local PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative.


Gary Bosley

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