A North Canterbury farmer has come up with a novel way to introduce tourists to Kiwi rural life by "adopting" his sheep out.
Fifth-generation Hurunui farmer Scotty Bamford, along with marketer Greg Stubbings, has come up with "My Kiwi Sheep" - an online platform that allows people from all over the world to experience New Zealand farming.
Bamford originally looked into doing farm tours, but Covid-19 border closures put an end to that, he told The Country's Jamie Mackay.
"We thought, how can we get people from around the world to be part of the farming journey here in New Zealand?"
My Kiwi Sheep gives clients the opportunity to adopt a Merino, name it, feed it treats and follow its progress during lambing.
There's also an option to have wool from the sheep spun into garments, which clients can request for themselves or friends and family.
Bamford hoped the experience would give adopters "a bit of an education" about farming while also being interactive.
It cost about $80 a month to adopt a sheep and as a result, Bamford thought his idea would have more appeal to international visitors.
As a result, Bamford thought his idea would have more appeal to international visitors.
"It is a little bit pricey probably for the New Zealand consumers."
However, he hoped My Kiwi Sheep would become part of a more high-end business model.
"I think New Zealand really needs to start focusing on the premium market and ditching the volume market."
To further the premium My Kiwi Sheep experience, after lambing there is an opportunity for people to adopt and name their "grandlambs".
There were two options for these lambs, adoption for life - or the dinner plate, Bamford said.
"If they choose a female lamb they can continue the life cycle."
Mackay addressed the elephant in the room, asking Bamford what happened to the sheep that were sent to the works.
Although this was a normal part of farming life, Bamford said he wasn't keen to focus on it.
However, he did entertain Mackay's suggestion of arranging funerals for the sheep.
"If that's what the client wants Jamie, then we're happy to run it for them."