There are more than 250 beef cattle out grazing on Whanganui region farms that will eventually be sold with profits going to Hospice Whanganui.
Farming Friends of Hospice (FFoH) have been contributing $5000 a month ($60,000 a year) to the hospice since the group started about 13 years ago, its chairman Brian Doughty said.
He's just spent $65,000 on a unit load (truck and trailer) of 50 cattle, to add to the total. The animals are rising 2-year-old steers, and each participating farm will get two. The cattle have blue hospice eartags to mark them out from the herd.
When they are sold to meatworks it will be under a different name, and Farming Friends of Whanganui (FFoH) will get $500 to $600 for each beast - the margin between buying one at $800 and selling it at around $1400.
FFoH then passes the money on to hospice.
"Every now and then, when we have a surplus, we buy them a vehicle for them to do outvisits - a car or a van," Doughty said.
Hospice Whanganui gets 54 per cent of its funding from Government, via Whanganui District Health Board. The FFoH contribution is vital, CEO Karen Anderson said.
"We wouldn't be able to continue without it. We wouldn't have anywhere else additional that we could get that support from."
The $60,000 a year is wonderful. But FFoH also do other things.
"If I need something more, I will put something in writing for them and they will discuss whether they can afford that, and if they can, they do."
Other hospices have cattle schemes, but Anderson has the impression Whanganui's is one of the best in the country, because of its longevity.
"It keeps generating income through difficult times."
There are 170 participating farmers across the Ruapehu, Whanganui and South Taranaki. They have to be reliable and they get newsletters to keep them informed.
The advent of the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis has made the charity's logistics more complicated. No farmer wants cattle with the disease brought onto their property.
Cattle are now only sourced only from farms with a history of breeding their own replacement stock rather than buying in cattle from elsewhere. If that's not possible, there's another option.
"If we can't guarantee that they're free of M. bovis we will buy two of the farmer's own," Doughty said.
Farmers aren't the only ones supporting hospice through the scheme. Whanganui businesses Grange Transport, David Jones Motors and stock agent Butch Jurgens help too.
The grant FFoH needed to buy the first cattle was provided by the Powerco Wanganui Trust (now the Four Regions Trust).