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Farming running deep in Blackler's veins - 3rd Jul 2018

Farming running deep in Blackler's veins A article written about Kent, Barbara & Eddie Blackler clients of ours published in the recent Business Rural paper.. well worth a read.

Eddie (Paul) Blackler works in partnership with his parents Kent and Barbara on their 1300 hectare farm near Roxburgh, Central Otago.
The farm is on rolling terrain which extends from 200 metres to 900 metres above sea-level.
The main-stay of activity is the flock of 2500 merino ewes, grown for their excellent quality wool contracted out to sell to suppliers of merino clothing.  The farm also carries 130 Hereford cattle.
Paul enjoys his life shepherding and has also completed a seeding season (2016) in Western Australia.  He says the unique qualities Merino wool offers the clothing industry makes it a cut above the rest.
“I was away hunting over the weekend and the conditions went from being very cold to quite hot.  The great thing about merino fibre is that it breathes, so you keep comfortably warm in the cold and remain comfortable even in very hot weather,” Eddie explains.
All the lambs produced stay on the farm for their first winter and are shorn as hoggets in September.  The replacement ewe hoggets are classed out before shearing, with the remaining cull ewe and wether hoggets finished to a prime weight of 44 kgs sold at the spring market.  Eddie says there are some key characteristics that contribute to a high-value merino ewe.
“She should have a good frame, able to walk well on her feet, shear a quality fleece of wool ( 18 micron), produce a lamb every year and look after it.  As far as our flock is concerned we’re definitely heading in the right direction to have well-built ewes throughout the whole flock.”
Each year about 550 new ewes are introduced into the flock, replacing the old-girls who have been productive for 6 seasons.
When Rural South spoke with Eddie, he had been back on the farm for 8 months.  Prior to this, the operation was run by his father.
“We do everything ourselves, all the tractor work, the cultivation, drilling 200ha annually.  I have been shepherding all my working life and it’s a great life.  There’s always something to do.”
Maintaining a property the size of their farm is a major consumer of time.  Some of the farm’s fences Eddies says are 100 years old and in recent years all new cattle yards and a new wool shed have been erected.
Eddie has recently competed in the Otago/Southern Region Young Farmer of the Year event.  He says the experience offered opportunities to rub shoulders with a new and passionate group of young farmers who carry strong ideals into their farming and believe in the industry they work in.
The herd of 130 Hereford graze the hill blocks.  Depending on the value of the calves they are either sold after weaning or are carried through to 2 ½ years old.
“We’re in a fairly dry corner and if we dry out too much will drop our cow numbers back to 80 or less.”
Eddie says the farm has enjoyed an incredible Autumn with grass only just beginning to slow up in May.  Winter can often be fairly tough and frosts are a regular occurrence.
This year has been a good one for other reasons too.   Eddie applied for a scholarship from the Otago Merino Association and was successful.  After sending in a cover letter about his farming and himself, he was shortlisted for interviewing by six people from the industry.
“They asked my opinion on the state of the Merino sheep and wool industry.”
The scholarship provided him with a three week visit to Australia and he says the experience was very valuable.
“It’s called the PGG Wrightson Monaro Scholarship.”
Recipients travel to the Monaro region (NSW Australia) which runs from Canberra south.
“You get to visit a number of different sheep farming operations.”
He says the experience of seeing and talking about so many varied approaches to farming was extremely valuable.


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