I just got home from my 2 week Study Abroad Trip to New Zealand. It was an absolutely amazing opportunity. On the trip we were comparing and contrasting human and animal interactions.
New Zealand is of course mostly known for their sheep industry. I mean there are 4 million people in New Zealand and 40 million sheep! It was amazing to see the sheep all over the country side, on mountains and in every place possible. We had the opportunity to see sheep being sheared by some men who can shear a sheep in 45 seconds!
My favorite part of the trip was our visits to dairy farms. The first dairy farm we went to was a typical small dairy farm you would find around Ohio. The call their parlors a shed and the shed is the only building on the farm. This is because all of the cattle are purely pasture fed. Their land and climate makes this the most economical way to raise animals. Since they never have freezing weather they do not have to worry about the cold either.
New Zealand also has a program ran through the government to help get beginning farmers into the industry. It is called Shared Farmers. It is where a farmer who has land and equipment but cannot work any more is able to help young farmers by providing his land and equipment. The young farmer then provides anything else needed and all of the work. Then the two split the profits in half, 50/50. This allows an older farmer to still keep his farm so he doesn’t have to sell it, which is what most of our older farmers struggle with doing. It also allows new farmers to get into the business without starting out with extreme amounts of loans. This allows them to start off right and sustain the industry as well as their family without the worry of going bankrupt. What a great way to keep the agricultural industry strong.
The second dairy farm we went to was more than a dairy farm. It was a farm that is technically ran by the government. There is a company with 116 different farms around the country that they help run. Thy raise beef cattle, deer, sheep and dairy! This particular farm had roughly 2000 dairy cattle that they were milking. They were milking 9 hours a day! However, the best part? They had an 80 bail rotary! How amazing is that? 80 cows basically milking themselves! I was so amazed! The cows knew exactly what to do. The best part about this rotary was that it also had systems set up to check the milk each cow produced for somatic cells, disease, etc as the cow was milking. Can you imagine how much milk we would save from being dumped if we could do this?
We saw a lot of other things too including exotic animals and tourist attractions. Overall, the trip was a once in a lifetime experience! I can’t even begin to explain how beautiful the country was and how unique some of the agricultural experiences were.