Adding value to environmentally friendly lamb production in the Kaipara catchment
Award-winning farmers Richard and Dianne Kidd say they see themselves as food producers, not just farmers. The Kidds have farmed at Whenuanui since 1977 and it has been in the family since the early 1950’s. Since Richard and Dianne took over, they have expanded its size by about 50 percent. The high price of land in the district has led them to lease land. The Kidds have a long time manager, Jeffrey Bradly. They also work with their son David (currently away on a Nuffield scholarship) who farms further north.
In 2016 they were awarded the supreme Ballance Farm Environment Award - the Gordon Stephenson Trophy for sustainable farming.
The farm runs 1300 facial eczema-tolerant Coopworth ewes. The ewes lamb at 170 per cent and the hoggets at 129 per cent. They supply the lambs from late October through to February under the ‘Kaipara Lamb’ label.
Richard says some time ago he and Dianne decided they wanted to connect with urban consumers more directly. Their farm is close to Auckland and they decided they wanted to sell into that market with a story about the lamb they produce and the way they do it sustainably. Kaipara Lamb is a brand the Kidds have established with several other local farmers to sell their lamb into Countdown supermarket stores. Countdown pays farmers supplying under the Kaipara brand a premium for the lamb.
The Kidds also run a herd of 300 Angus cows. The weaners are sold onto the market. They are grazed off farm in a neighbouring forest lot from June to September each year. This removes them from the farm in the winter and protects the pasture.
All of the farm's waterways are fenced off and there are large areas of raupo and other species that filter impurities out of the water that travels down the hills in the wetland areas.
The Kidds fenced off the area 12-15 years ago and planted manuka and flax on its edges. Tests on the water quality running through the farm have confirmed it as being extremely high quality. The neighbouring farms are following his example and the water leaving the catchment into the Kaipara Harbour is exceptionally clean, Kidd says.
"We had it tested and apart from nitrate and phosphate levels which were negligible, we've got species in there like fresh water crayfish and whitebait and lots of micro-organisms that we were told wouldn't survive unless the water was extremely clean."
The farm has 15.3ha of native bush fenced off 30 years ago and an 18.5ha pine woodlot planted 22 years ago as a retirement nest egg. Pests such as possums have been a major issue over the years in the bush area and there has been an ongoing control programme underway.