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South Devon Newsletter, July 2011, issue 50

Contents of this issue:

  1. President's Message
  2. 2011 Beef Expo Report
  3. Steak of Origin Challenge 2011
  4. Herd Tour Report

Click here to download the latest print version of the newsletter.


The Steak of Origin dinner was the one to be at this year, especially if you breed South Devon cattle, with Phil Hoskin’s entry taking out the Supreme award. Congratulations to Phil on his achievement. Phil gave a wonderful interview with Jamie McKay on the Farming Show the next day, about the merits of the breed, which was well worth listening to.
Beef Expo was also a great success for the South Devon breed with a lot of spirited bidding on the animals with an almost total clearance of bulls.

The AGM was held at the Orlando Country Estate just out of Marton, a very picturesque place with great views and a warm log fire. I would like to thank Peter Foss who retired from the Board after 14 years of dedication to the Society, it has been very much appreciated by all of us.
I would also like to welcome Richard van Asch on to the Board. We only had four nominations for the Board positions at the AGM which meant the Board would have limited governance if something happened to one of its members. Richard kindly offered his services and was co-opted on at a Special Meeting after the AGM.
The President’s Trophy was awarded to Gavin Osborne for his efforts to the breed, particularly for all his work in co-ordinating the bull trial for this year.
After general discussion it was decided that the Society would not be running a bull trial this year.
The requirement of NAIT tagging has been put back until next year and its second reading has yet to be had at Parliament. After good debate on the pros and cons of it being accepted as our breeding Holding Mark, the members decided to wait on more information from the tag retailer if we can get our members Holding Mark incorporated with it.
I would like to pass on my thanks to the breeders for their wonderful hospitality on the tour this year with good cattle; good food; and good company which made for a good two days.
Finally this past year in farming would have to be one of the best with all our farming commodities at record highs, fingers crossed may it continue.

Brian Thomson

South Devons once again had a strong presence at Beef Expo at Manfeild Park for their 7th National Show and Sale. Seven R2 bulls sold at auction for an average price of $5,542 with a top of $9,800, with buyers bidding freely to secure the quality genetics on offer. Three bulls were passed in at auction, but later sold for a total clearance of all bulls offered. Two heifer calves sold at auction to a top price of $2,200, with an average of $2,100.

The NZX Agri Supreme Champion South Devon was awarded to the led bull Burtergill Romany 901 (pictured left) from the van Asch family in Blenheim. Romany, a scurred bull by the imported sire Thowra Downs Romany and out of a home bred cow impressed Judge Robert Bulle and Associate Judge Hamish Anderson with his balance and soundness and was the “overall package”. Romany later went on to sell to the Snowview Stud owned by the Wason family at Sheffield for $9,000 after some spirited bidding.


The Pivot Design Reserve Champion award went to the top placed unled bull – Manuiti Regent (pictured right) bred by the Deighton family, Mangaweka. Regent later went on to sell to the Karamu Stud owned by the Brownlie family of Wairoa for the top price of $9,800. Regent also took out the Ballance Agri -Nutrient top weight gain award at the bull trial with an impressive 1.7kg day gain for the duration of the 300 day trail.

Merial-Ancare third place went to the unled bull Okaharau Depthcharge E21 who later sold to Glen Falloch partnership for $2800.
In the CLAAS Queen of Hearts section, Burtergill Harrys Peach 1038 was placed a creditable 5th in a line up of 24 excellent heifer calves from all breeds. Peach later sold to the Goodman family, for $2,000. The other Burtergill entry – Burtergill Zions Helen 1023 sold to the Thomson family’s Loch Lomond Stud in Mosgiel for $2,200. Tinny Brian was lucky enough to win $500 from the deck of cards draw after purchasing Helen also!

South Devon did not feature in the Champion of Champions award, once again the judges not being able to see past their “breed of choice” it seemed (to this observer anyway).

It would be great to see the success of Expo this year repeated in future years to keep the breed in the eyes of the public - so let’s make that happen!

Phil HoskinTuesday evening, 19th May 2011 was one of the more memorable in my usually mundane life. I’ve never taken a so called recreational drug in my life, drink very moderate amounts of alcohol and avoid pain killers and antibiotics, but give me adrenaline, endorphins or dopamines and whatever causes natural highs any time!!

After helping Lanise put a few cattle behind electric fences it was time to spruce up for the Steak of Origin awards night. I really appreciate Phil & Lanise, Fraser Wilson and our venerable President, Brian, providing company and entertainment for the dinner. The tickets were $110 each and those of Scottish ancestry went through considerable mental anguish before purchasing!

It’s a very enjoyable event starting with cocktails and nibbles. At this stage in conversation with Ashley Gray of Beef+LambNZ administration I discovered that my odds of winning were 1 in 12 as the commercial classes are not eligible for the overall winner as their entry conditions are different.

The entrees of Thai Beef Salad or Beef & Mushroom Hotpot were followed by the main course of well-cooked choice steak (probably AngusPure!). The whole venue was decorated in black - walls, table cloth and napkins so a change to a warmer colour such as red, brown or chestnut would be welcome next year!

There is a sense of drama and anticipation as each section placing is announced and a dawning revelation that by winning the Cross Breed Class I now had a 1 in 3 chance of winning overall. Jamie MacKay and Alison Shanks entertained with a fireside chat on stage. A good dessert, more drinks and conviviality and then it was time to get on stage again with the other class winners for the big announcement.

Mike Petersen, Chairman of Beef+LambNZ, opened the envelope, read out my name and presented me with the trophy and cup. Suddenly I’m in front of a microphone and under the spotlight with a room full of leaders in the beef industry. The words which came out were unrehearsed but apparently appropriate and not too drawn out. It was a huge thrill, a buzz but also daunting and humbling.

The official photographer did his job again and Lanise took the opportunity to also use her camera. I then headed towards our table of friends and breeders. It took me over an hour as various individuals of organisations and breeds came up to congratulate me. Jamie MacKay organised a time to interview me by phone while viewing cattle at Phil & Lanise’s property.
For a week or two you’re the centre of attention. I had 20 or so messages of congratulations or requests for interviews on my answerphone when I returned from the AGM and Herd Tour. Your image is downloaded and reproduced but more satisfying are the personal interviews. Tararua TV even came to produce a half hour slot. I hope I was able to provide intelligent and interesting answers and do justice to South Devons.

We have to remember that while breeds naturally use success in the competition for promotion, Beef+LambNZ use it to promote red meat overall. I checked with Fiona Greig on the actual preliminary assessments. As I understand it, all the frozen vacuum packed steaks are brought together and aged under standard chilling for three weeks. A portion is cooked and subjected to a tender meter whereby the least force required to cut through the steak identifies the 80 most tender of the original 400 to enter the semi-finals - a totally objective measurement of which I thought my 2½ year steer would be at a disadvantage compared to 18 month heifers.

These 80 steaks are then tested and assessed by the general public – this time at a rugby club BBQ and the finalists selected. 10% of the final marks come from this assessment. The finals are well documented with celebrities and guest chefs judging.
It would be interesting to analyse success in relation to numbers entered as some people enter a truckload. South Devon’s have a long history of quality beef.

Meanwhile I’d encourage other breeders to participate in the Steak of Origin.

Phil Hoskin

Following several inclement days during the annual Beef Expo Show and Sale, the Manawatu area turned on the sun for the annual South Devon Tour and AGM.

The tour started off with a very interesting trip to the RNZAF Base Ohakea hosted by Phil Robertson (Ben Vista Stud) who is an Air Force Engineer as well as Lanise’s right hand man.

It was very interesting to see the latest NH90 helicopters contrasting with the aged Iroquois (in use since 1966) and the A109 helicopters replacing the Sioux (as seen on MASH). Also a very smart new hangar housing the new helicopters, the laid up Macchi training jets and an immaculate privately owned World War II spitfire.

We then enjoyed viewing the magnificently conditioned Ben Vista herd, highlighted by their 920kg matron the subject of a weight guessing competition. She had excellent conformation and would probably be the biggest cow in New Zealand. The lunch provided by the Robertson’s certainly did nothing to reduce the weight gain of South Devon members present.
Following lunch at Robertsons, we travelled back to Feilding to the PBBnz offices where Megan gave us a very interesting tour of the very well appointed PBBnz offices where Murray Meads and the team very capably administer the majority of New Zealand’s stud cattle breeds.

That afternoon we travelled across from Feilding to Marton and on to Orlando Country for the AGM and Dinner, passing through beautiful farm land with plentiful grass and not many animals. The AGM was followed by a very pleasant dinner marked by the presentation of a fine landscape painting to retiring Board member, Peter Foss, the artist Ann Thomson. Peter had served for 14 years on the Board, many as Treasurer and President, and PBBnz General Manager, Murray Meads paid tribute to his work for the South Devon breed and also for his work on the PBBnz Board, which will continue. It was gratifying to see Chris Biddles, Chairman of PBBnz, come to our AGM and Dinner and fly the flag. Chris sees the future of the NZ beef industry as all breeds working together to promote New Zealand beef. Working together on a united front we will achieve much more.

On Thursday we travelled on to the Deighton’s stud “Manuiti” at Mangaweka, via the Mokai Gravity Canyon and its associated spectacular Bungy jump.

A smart line up of sale bulls at Manuiti were a tribute to the Deighton’s management during a pretty dry season. Their farm is on a very picturesque terrace above the river, with an attractive stone wall around the homestead – the result of many hours of hard labour by Tim. We then enjoyed a very relaxing lunch at the tasteful Manuiti Homestead.
We then travelled back to Feilding via Vinegar Hill and its views of terraces created across the Manawatu over millions of years.

The tour finished with a tour of Kevin & Heather Eagle’s Rosewood Stud. Their cattle were again in excellent condition, their older bull Manuiti Lotto being a picture. Unfortunately no eagle eggs for sale this year. Whether it was old age or a result of several late nights, it was a bit sad to see that the male members of the tour party could not do justice to Kevin’s beer shout.

Not everything on tour stays on tour – some amusing incidents - expert golfer Fraser Wilson’s three air shots at Orlando; several mature members of the South Devon Association being reprimanded at a noisy late night celebration of Phil Hoskin’s Steak of Origin win while drinking tea; and Di Deighton’s most amusing speech at Manuiti.

Finally thanks to Squadron Leader Brian Thomson’s organisational skills and a big thank you to the Robertsons’ and the Manawatu breeders hospitality.