Cornwall Park farm tour another sold-out success
Around two dozen people gathered for a behind-the-scenes look at Cornwall Park last month, at the annual farm tour. The yearly tour is usually booked out and offers a rare insight into how the farm operates, what has happened across the year, and some history about the park. Of course, a tour also includes getting up close and personal with some of the animals.
The tours are led by farm manager, Peter Maxwell, who has managed the Cornwall Park farm for just over 13 years and been a farmer since 1977. He was born on a Feilding farm, and 2020 was his forty-third consecutive lambing and calving season. Peter lives on site, and manages the farm staff, and hundreds of animals.
Peter is leading the farm’s second 100-year plan, which began in 2012, and he says one of the biggest challenges of 2020 has been the lockdowns which brought record crowds through the park, often bringing dogs with them.
“Lambs can die from shock if they’re scared by people or dogs; and people and dogs can also interrupt the bond between a ewe and its lamb. If the ewe then abandons the lamb, the lamb will likely not survive. During lockdown we have had to ban dogs from some areas completely, and limit access to other areas for people, to protect the animals.”
The drought has been the other major challenge, with the tour taking place just after the second driest September on record, affecting food available, and even animal fertility.
The tour takes in the park’s Simmental cattle, a Swiss breed, with the Cornwall Park cattle known for their quiet nature, which isn’t usually a trait of the breed. The white sheep on the farm are largely New Zealand breed Perendale and the black sheep are Gotland Pelt, a breed from Sweden.
As well as offering recreation and education, the farm operates as a business, with most animals sold, and the funds put back into running the farm. One buyer has been coming for 13 years.
On the tour, the group is also treated to a close encounter with twin calves, watching them feed on milk bottles, they also watch a group of sheep being drafted, and meet three of the farm’s working dogs – Flo, Lock and Maud.
You can find out what’s on at Cornwall Park on cornwallpark.co.nz
(L-R: Isla Finnemore, Harriet Jurd and James Finnemore get up close and personal with a pair of twin calves.)