The Department of Agriculture (DoA) can offer a couple of different testing options for mid-side sampling.
We can send your samples to New Zealand Wool Testing Authority (NZWTA), where there are several different testing options. NZWTA offer Micron only, Micron & Yield or Micron & Yield and Length & Strength.
The other option we have is here at the DoA, where we can test your samples on the Optical Fibre Diameter Analyser (OFDA). We can report on a lot of different results and you can choose what results you would like from your sample. We cannot report yield or strength with the OFDA. There are a couple of very good articles about the OFDA and what the results mean in the November/December 2019 edition of the Wool Press.
Although much of the farmland in the Falkland Islands is extensively grazed and free from chemicals, to obtain a market premium for wool or meat produce, farms need to be organically accredited.
The Falkland Islands Development Scheme (FIDC) set up a locally accredited organics scheme in March 2001, which a number of farms joined up to. However, in order to be internationally recognised as organic, farms would need to sign up to an international accreditation scheme.
Following investigation, it was found that the Biological Farmers of Australia (BFA) provided a scheme that would adapt easily to the Falkland Islands, as it was designed to cater for a similar extensive or rangeland grazing management system.
The Department of Agriculture has a large and well equipped laboratory. It is the responsiblity of the laboratory for the processing of all soil and animal feed samples, along with faecial egg counting (FEC).
Soil samples are analysed for a wide range of nutrients including NPK (nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium), trace elements and exchangeable cations (calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium).
The laboratory assists with the preparation of fish/squid samples for bacteriology tests. These samples are carried out by the public health laboratory at the Stanley hospital.
Fish samples are also sent to the UK laboratories of the Government Chemist for heavy metal/PCB tests.
Grass sampling work carried out by Gordon LennieThe laboratory also provides support to the Veterinary Services section with animal disease diagnosis and runs tests such as haematology profiles on blood samples, preparation of blood for biochemistry screening at the hospital and parasitological testing of faeces samples (mainly sheep and cattle).
Sheep Ultrasound Pregnancy Diagnosis
Since 2002 the Department of Agriculture has been able to offer a Ewe Ultrasound Pregnancy Diagnosis (scanning) to farmers.
Worldwide, scanning is used as an important management tool. It allows producers to relatively accurately predict lambing percentage. These results are then used to alter or fine-tune management practises relating to nutrition, health and pasture use. This practise has therefore fitted neatly into the Farm Improvement Programme.
The scanning information can also be utilised as a financial forecasting tool: i.e. cash flow budgets, enabling better estimates of income and expenses.
The most basic way to use scanning as a management tool is to determine which ewes are pregnant and which ewes are not. This allows you to:
- Feed accordingly – while non-pregnant ewes should not be allowed to fall away completely (they will never get pregnant next season if they do), there is no point having a mob of mostly dry ewes on your swedes or re-seeds. Keeping the pregnant ewes in good condition means they can feed and raise lambs successfully and be in good enough condition to then get pregnant again next year. Ewes in good condition have a better chance of keeping lambs alive and maximising growth rates.
- See what your conception rates are compared to lambs born or lambs marked. If your conception rate (number of ewes getting pregnant) is 70% for example but your lamb marking percentage is 50% - where are you losing that 20%? Are the ewes aborting the pregnancies? Are the lambs being born but dying before marking due to poor nutrition?
- See if any particular ewes are consistently not producing a lamb.
Benifits to scanning are:
- Identifying multiples/pregnant/not-pregnant thus allowing you to use pasture and budget for feed accordingly for what the ewes require as opposed to wasting feed on dry ewes.
- Estimating conception rates and thus lambing percentage to enable you to forecast meat or wool income.
- Able to remove any ewes that continually do not get in lamb.
- Pens and race – a temporary race made out of pens/gates is fine. For optimum flow of sheep have the panels before the scanning crate solid or covered so the sheep cannot see the scanner.
- A continuous supply of hot and cold water – access to a working kettle is fine for the hot water supply.
- A reliable power supply.
- Sufficient workforce – 1 person to work the crate/drafting gates, 1-2 people to push sheep up the race and fill pens and 1 person to write tag numbers etc if required.
- Ideally we would scan in a shearing shed so there is easy access to water and power and the ewes can be brought in the day before and fasted overnight. However we can scan outside as we have a frame and tent for the scanner, we just need to know if we need to bring it. We also have portable pens so if need be we can scan right there, in your ewe camp, thus less gathering and moving of your ewes
- Ewes need to be off food and water overnight/twelve hours before scanning. Accurate scanning with a full rumen is both difficult and hard work.
- Having the ewes half bellied make the job much quicker and easier.
Naturally mated ewes:
- A short joining period of 34 (2 cycles) is advisable. This will mean that all pregnancies from the joining period can be accurately detected from 45 days after the rams were taken off. Added benefits of a short joining period are:
- a short and concise lambing period
- a shorter time period needed to be spent shepherding
- all lambs will be nearer in age for weaning/lamb marking
- Longer joining periods may mean that 2 scanning sessions are needed to accurately detect all pregnancies which will obviously be more costly and time consuming.
AI ewes and Cover Rams:
- Any ewes that don't conceive at AI should cycle and be fertile again 17 days after the AI attempt, therefore to ensure a concise lambing period put your cover rams out 2 weeks after the AI day for 35 days (2 cycles).
- It is important to have raddle or harnesses on your rams. Marked ewes can be assumed to be cycling and not to have conceived via AI so if they are scanned pregnant it can be noted that this is probably to the cover ram rather than the AI.
- Scanning should occur between 70-90 days after the AI date.
HOW TO BOOK YOUR SCANNING:
Please let us know the dates when the rams went in and off and how many ewes there are to scan.
In 1999 the Department of Agriculture (DoA) set up a link with the New Zealand Wool Testing Authority (NZWTA) to be their accredited representatives to oversee the core sampling of Falkland Islands bales of wool. There are many benefits to local wool growers in having their wool cored locally. Mainly it opens up the opportunity to sell wool to a greater number of destinations, sell it in the international market place and gain a price for their product that is based on world market indicators, to rationalise wool freight logistics and to increase flexibility as to time of selling.
In the first year growers were cautious of this new service and only 726 bales were manually cored. Over the years interest has increased, this last season (2011/12) saw 6363 bales cored, the highest number to date.
the DoA has a set of certified bale scales for manual coring of bales in the Wool Warehouse at FIPASS, where all of the sampling now takes place. However, manual coring now only occurs in exceptional circumstances.
In 2007, due to the increasing freight rates by airto New Zealand, the Laboratorio Tecnologico del Uruguay (LATU) was approached by the DoA to see if we could grin accreditation to be their sampling officers for their IWTO laboratory and, thus, sending samples by ship instead and reducing costs. A LATU representative assessed the coring procedures already in place and accredited DoA staff to be their sampling officers in the Falkland Islands. the islands farmers were then offered the choice of using the LATU laboratory or staying with NZWTA and even with the increased air freight costs, all core samples continue to be sent to New Zealand for testing.
During the 2007/8 season, the Falkland Islands Development Corporation (FIDC), with advice from the DoA, investigated the possibility of purchasing a core/grab machine as a further aid to the core sampling operations in the islands. Eventually, a semi-automated core/grab machine was purchased from the South African Wool Bureau (WTBSA).
The Falklands Wool Cooperative (FWCo) won the tender to operate the core machine and also negotiated with Byron McKay to oversee the running of the wool warehouse on FIPASS. This includes bale receiving and stowing, operating the core and grab machine plus the double dumper and packing bales into containers for onward shipment.
With these innovative and forward looking changes, the wool warehouse operative runs a more effective and streamline operation.
the 2011/12 season saw a record of 55 farms utilising the service and a total of 6374 bales being cored using the machine, whereas in the 2012/13 season the number of farms dropped the 49 and total bales cored was 6150. However, as the number of farms using the service and number of bales cored changes every year, this is no indication of a permanent move away from coring locally.
there is also the opportunity to grab sample bales. the main purpose of grab sampling is the test the length and strength (L&S) of the staple and Position of Break (PoB) within the staple. In counties that sell wool by auction the grab sample is also used for display to let potential buyers see and feel the quality of the wool.
the information gained from the testing of the core sample is used to generate a legally binding document that enables growers to sell their product worldwide, it is known as an IWTO Pre-Sale Test Certificate. The criteria shown on the Pre-Sale Test Certificate are; mean fiber diameter, yield (Schlumberger Dry), colour, vegetable matter, gross mass, tare, net mass, total bales and bale numbers. If the bales are grab sampled, this information is also provided on the test certificate.
Late in 2013 we were fortunate enough to be able to hire Bob Morris of Avery Weigh-Tronix, UK to independently calibrate and issue certification of accuracy on both the machine and manual weighing platforms and their weighing indicators. This is the first time this very valuable and necessary independent certification service has been available to us and we are confidant that this will now be conducted on an annual basis.