Te Whanga Station

October 2016

Te Whanga Station runs its Angus stud, a commercial herd and trains Taratahi farm cadets

The Borthwick family name has a pioneering history in the meat business. Borthwicks originally came from the UK and the family owned meatworks in New Zealand and Australia and exported frozen meat to England and all parts of the world.

In 1936, PJ Borthwick immigrated to New Zealand and bought Te Whanga Station near Gladstone in the Wairarapa. The station has stayed in the family since then. The focus has been on an Angus stud.

Te Whanga is 2,135ha with around 19,000 stock units. The property has a 70:30 sheep to cattle ratio. There are 280 Angus stud cows as well as a large commercial operation.

The farm was used as a training farm for returned servicemen and these days carries on that tradition of offering training opportunities by working in with Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre and giving work experience for farm cadets. One of those cadets has taken up a full time position on the farm.

Scott Gudsell has been manager at Te Whanga Station for the last three years. He received his qualifications at Massey and has worked primarily in the Wairarapa. There is a staff of four on the station.

Scott says the 2016 season has been tough, with a dry summer followed by a relatively dry winter and then into a very dry summer/autumn again. He says it has been the most challenging season of his farming career. They have been feeding out a lot of feed to sheep to make up for the lack of grass growth.

The stud was established in 1936 and originally bought cattle from Waiterenui and Pharazyn studs in Hawkes Bay. The approach has been to produce commercial bulls with good temperament, soundness, growth, fertility and carcass traits.

In January this year, Te Whanga bought some Farfield Angus breeding cows. Scott says those cattle had some performance genetics they were looking to introduce into the Te Whanga bloodlines. In particular the stud is interested in low birth weight/high growth rate performance and carcass qualities. This is particularly attractive for the dairy farm customers.

Scott says the stud isn’t Te Whanga’s only focus. He’s passionate about the stud cattle and believes it offers another interest for the staff he has working for him, but he says the stud operation has to fit in with the 160 cow commercial herd and the 11000 or so ewes on the farm. He says they treat the stud and commercial cattle exactly the same.

The station holds two annual sales – one in June and one in September for the yearlings.

Scott says the challenge is to continue to incorporate the stud animals into the same environment as the commercial herd while at the same time selecting the right type of sires to go across the stud cows.

Sheep are a Romney base with a range of other bloodlines. Scanning sits at around 170%. Lambs are predominantly sold store with around 25% sold prime off mum. The farm has recently developed the flats with the introduction of a range of new grasses as well as crop.