Infant formula made from goat milk is finding a strong market in mainland China, Southeast Asia and the Middle East for New Zealand's New Image Group with help from Oete Farms.

New Image Group, through its subsidiary NIG Nutritionals, has also developed goat milk-based nutritional products for seniors and people with special health needs. The products have been trialled in different markets, including selected target groups in China. New Image will show the products at the world's largest baby fair, CBM Expo, in Shanghai this month.

The partnership between New Image and Oete was celebrated with an opening of new facilities at a farm in Auckland by New Zealand Minister of Food Safety Jo Goodhew. It currently runs 2400 does, but Oete's owners, Matt and Sarah Bolton, plan to increase production to more than 300,000kg/milk solids a year, making it one of this country's largest producers.

Oete supplies NIG Nutritionals, which blends the milk with vitamins and minerals at its high technology, multimillion dollar plant nearby.

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The finished product is then spray-dried and packed as nutritional products and infant formula at New Image's other NZ Export and Food Safety Authority-approved manufacturing plants, which also have CNCA certification to produce infant formula for China.

Guy Wills, general manager of New Image Group, says the growth in exports of goat milk-based nutritionals demonstrates New Zealand is successfully diversifying its agricultural export base and adding value to raw materials.

NIG Nutritionals' research and development team is leading the development of new goat milk-based natural health products.

The New Zealand Government is committed to a goal of partnering the country's primary industry sectors to double the value of primary industry exports by 2025. To that extent the opening of Oete's new facility is cause for celebration, says Ms Goodhew.

Dig it in, contractors

Rural contractors have been reminded of the benefits of joining their national industry group, which recently held its annual meeting in Blenheim.

Rural Contractors New Zealand president Steve Levet, a Wellsford contractor who was re-elected at the meeting, says: "RCNZ plays an important role as the leading advocate and strong representative of rural contractors engaged in a wide range of activities across the agricultural sector throughout the country.

"If rural contractors believe in a united strong voice talking about and tackling the issues that affect their businesses, then they should be a member."

More than 150 agricultural contractors attended, discussing issues such as health and safety, employment, immigration and attracting people to work in the industry.

Shear record

A young Scottish shearer, who works for a Napier contractor, has easily exceeded his own hopes by shearing 938 sheep in a 24-hour fundraising marathon in Scotland.

Grant Hurcomb, 21, started at 9pm on Friday, UK time, hoping to shear about 780 by the time he finished on Saturday night.

He completed a series of two-hour runs, separated by half hour breaks, for a total of 17hrs 30mins' shearing time, in what was thought to have been the first shear of its type in the UK, or anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere.

While it was suggested it may have been a world record, there have been several similar efforts in Australia and New Zealand.

In January 1986, acknowledged nine-hour-day record-breakers Alan Macdonald and Keith Wilson shore 2220 lambs in a 24-hour charity shear near Warkworth.

More than 500 people watched Hurcomb's achievement at High Ballyett Farm, near Stranraer, with $15,000 ($35,874 ) raised for cancer research.

Hurcomb has worked two to three seasons in Hawke's Bay, including last summer.

How much do you need?

As farmers grapple with changing regulatory obligations, nutrient budgets are being created as part of management services offered by companies such as Ravensdown.

An Actual Nutrient Budget (ANB) is the formal document used to assist them with compliance and is typically historic, reflecting actual nutrients applied.

A Ravensdown ANB is an auditable document increasingly demanded by regional councils.

This differs from the Predictive Nutrient Budgets (PNB) that help farmers plan ahead for their fertiliser requirements based on soil testing data and overseer modelling by certified advisers.

PNBs are typically produced as part of a process to create a fertiliser plan and help farmers optimise nutrient application.

Not all nutrient budgets are created equal. The lasting importance and potential complexity of an ANB means the length of time spent by staff is in a different league to the kind of forecasting nutrient budget that helps identify how much of which fertiliser will need to go where.

Ravensdown spokesman Bryan Inch says: "In both cases, Ravensdown is well positioned to help because we've got the tools and the trained people.

"We've got the largest number of certified nutrient management advisers in New Zealand. We often have the farm's soil test data trends, fertiliser plans and application history all under one umbrella and our staff understand the local regulatory requirements.

"Because an Actual Nutrient Budget is time consuming, we are introducing a user-pays system for ANBs.

"Charges to recover the cost of time invested for all ANBs will be recovered from only those shareholders who need one. The hours invested and therefore actual cost of the ANB will depend on complexity and size of the farm and the relevant regulatory requirements."

Help for mental health

Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) is concerned that as rural people clean up after disastrous floods and snow, their resilience and resourcefulness will be challenged by overwhelming distress. For farming families in more remote areas their sense of isolation will become acute resulting in anxiety and depression. It is a problem that will go beyond the farm gate.

"However, it will be women who will put their own well-being on hold, ensuring their partners cope." Health Portfolio spokeswoman Margaret Pittaway says: "This is not new. Research shows that rural women play a major role in achieving resilience in rural communities beginning in the family home, and yet, at the same time, are vulnerable given their distance from neighbours and support. This vulnerability will extend beyond the disaster as partners have difficulty getting their lives back to normal."

Rural Women New Zealand encourages GPs and mental health teams to check on the wellbeing of the carer, the partner of the person who has come into their care. "And to remember that stress and anxiety won't wash down the drain along with the melting snow, floodwaters and silt. It may continue for many months becoming even more acute as time goes on," says Ms Pittaway, "Ongoing pastoral care will be essential."

Rural Women New Zealand has a Community Fund to provide financial assistance to where there is an identified urgent need. The grant may be awarded to assist families in time of natural disaster, such as the floods and snows, or to assist an individual with a specific need. For more information email enquiries@ruralwomen.org.nz.