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The Hickman family has been at Taimate since 1905. They drew the original property when the Flaxbourne run was sub divided by government ballot. With acquisitions, the property has grown to approximately 720 Hectares/ 1750 Acres.
Jack and Tom Hickman founded the Taimate Angus Stud in 1956. The number of stud cattle has risen since then. With the addition of a neighbouring property of 120Ha in 2013, some 220 cattle are currently calving at Taimate, including yearling heifers. Ideally 250 females will be calving but with current consecutive drought years, numbers have been reduced.
The Land And Climate
Taimate, comprising of 720 Hectares/ 1750 Acres is an extremely dry coastal property within a stones throw of the Lake Grassmere Saltworks. We specialize in dryland grass fed stud stock, with a Romney sheep Stud and the Angus Stud.
We also have 25Ha of Sauvignon Blanc grapes.
There is no irrigation at Taimate other than the grapes. The animals must handle what the seasons give, with only grass and hay feeding. Most years from mid November until mid March the area is golden brown, hot and windswept, hence the Salt Lakes being just along the road.
To handle the climate the animals must be able to convert grass to meat quickly and hold condition throughout the tough long, dry months. We believe this is why the Taimate stock are strongly regarded as excellent shifters to all parts of the country.
Approximately 60 hectares is planted in Lucerne and in 2006 the grapes were planted. The land is 25% flat, and 20% medium rolling with the balance hill.
Our annual rain fall is a meager 500ml (20 inches) but in the past decade we have been lucky if we have averaged 400ml (16 inches). The worst period of June 2002 until June 2003 saw only 165ml (6 1/2 inches) fall in an entire year!
Founding of the Taimate Angus Stud
Jack and Tom Hickman founded the Taimate Stud on an extremely good stockman’s eye, based on constitution, reliability and survivability. Females MUST get in calf, no matter what the season, and produce an animal, bull or heifer, that shifts to all climates and situations.
Jack was never keen on North American bloodlines, and it was not until Ossie took over the management of the herd in the 1980’s that some North American bloodlines were introduced to a very limited degree. We have been very strict with the use of the larger North American bloodlines over the more traditional N.Z. / Scottish females, to ensure we keep our NZ attributes of meaty, tough, structurally strong hardy and do-ability proven on steep country cattle. This has given our herd well fleshed perfectly framed cattle with thick set early finishing progeny.
Jack was admired for his stockmanship throughout the New Zealand Angus Society. He became president of New Zealand Angus and regularly produced show stoppers and sale toppers at National show and sale events.
Changes At Taimate Over The Years
Jack’s son Ossie took over the reins in the mid 1970’s. Over the years Ossie has introduced four sheep studs to the property, Romneys in 1963, Coopworths in 1970, Dorset Downs in 1989 and Poll Dorsets in 2003. He has been widely regarded as one of the premium breeders of Coopworth rams, regularly topping ram fairs all over the country. Today the Romneys remain with around 150 rams sold per year.
During his time Ossie oversaw the farm size at Taimate almost quadruple. This is no mean feat when that period has been no doubt the hardest in history, with Rogernomics, interest rates close to 25%, commodity prices seemingly always low, and with crippling ongoing droughts. Most of what Taimate has today can be attributed to Ossie’s stockmanship and fiscal skills.
Today Ossie’s fourth son Paul has taken over the day to day management of the farm and has largely been responsible for increasing numbers of stud cattle being run.
Ossie’s eldest son John also returned to the farm in 2006 to set up the vineyard operation. This has been a welcome addition to the farm. Although, as was discovered one Sunday morning, bulls and grapes cannot be grown in the same paddock!
Sixty hectares of Lucerne is currently being grown. It is a miracle plant in such a dry area. All commercial lambs are grown on Lucerne and sent directly to the works off mum. Some Lucerne hay and balege is made, then in December most is shut up for seed production. The Lucerne seed is harvested in March/April.
From 2012 a big emphasis is being placed on a capital development programme. Fertiliser, fencing and pasture renewel the 3 key target areas. Around 130 Ha a year are cropped, predominantly for winter greenfeeds. This has allowed for a winter stocking rate of 16+ Su/Ha. After 3 years of cropping the ground is sown into a permanent legume based pasture. Around 3-4 kms of new netting fencing with electric top wire is being done annually replacing old, tired fences and also sub-dividing some blocks.
Before 2020 it is hoped a community irrigation scheme will be in place. This will no doubt change things somewhat, but with the proposed costs little to no pasture would be irrigated at Taimate, but a big vineyard development would certainly happen.
Now with the fifth generation of family running around at Taimate, we are more than ever focused on the future. We firmly believe that we are no more than custodians of the land and it must be looked after for generations to come.
At Taimate we pride ourselves on producing quality, consistent, reliable cattle for both ourselves and our clients.
Today at Taimate change is happening. We are nearing the completion of a major development that has been happening for the past 2 years.
The community irrigation project hasn't happened as was hoped and so we built our own dam. Our new dam of 300,000 cube is all but finished and watered is being pumped in, fed from a nearby river 2.5km away. Vineyards have been expanding with 20ha planted Spring 2018 and another 45ha to be planted Spring 2019, giving a total planted area closing in on 100ha. To do this, unfortunately the ewes have had to go. This was a very tough decision to have to make, but one that had to be. This will however allow the cattle numbers to increase slightly. It is envisioned by 2020 to have 280 females calving.
Even with the dam water, the pastoral farming side of Taimate will still be dryland. All water will be used for vineyards with the potential to expand further in the future. So no grass watered!!
Bull sales have continued to grow, with this year 66 2yr old bulls being catalogued. Our last 2 annual sales have been exceptionally strong, in 2017 48/48 bulls selling for $9400 av, and 2018 55/55 bulls selling for $9800 av. These sales have been particularly pleasing as there have been no high price individual bulls to boost the overall average, just consistently good bulls throughout the catalogues, all selling for similar money. This is what we strive for- consistency. We are very proud to boast that we believe we have the highest % of bulls born to that being sold as 2yo across NZ. This showing our true consistency of breeding across our entire herd.
The next generation of Taimate kids have now started high school- wow time flies!! It is with them in the forefront of our minds that farming continues, sustainably and enjoyably with a passion for excellence.
Putting the Farmer's Needs First
The Taimate Angus Breeding Philosophy is based around the needs and wants of the commercial farmer. That is producing a bull who arrives at his new home, looking the same as he did in the sale, who then does his job over all of the females he is put with. He regains condition quickly, his off spring are born easily and survive with good growth rates through to weaning and beyond, and he is a bull the farmer can depend on for several years.
By having this clear, yet simple philosophy, we never forget our clients and doing right by them, is the most important part of our Angus Stud.
Keeping Things Simple
At Taimate we keep things simple. Almost all breeding is done naturally, with very limited use of Artificial Insemination (AI). When using AI generally only one sire is used per year. We firmly believe that this policy produces consistency and gives us our very good lines of cattle.
We often hear commercial and stud farmers saying they are sick of going to bull sales and never seeing two bulls the same. If there is one compliment we never get tired of hearing is that year after year the Taimate bulls look like “peas in a pod”.
Taimate Angus Cattle Are Traditional Cattle
We place a very strong emphasis on using mostly New Zealand bloodlines.
It is this emphasis that produces our deep, thickset, well muscled bulls that don’t break down. All of the attributes of the original Aberdeen Angus that came to New Zealand.
The Taimate cattle are often referred to as “Very traditional type cattle”. We take this as a huge compliment, as it has only been in modern times that the Angus has been letting itself down. Most particularly in bull reliability.
All Taimate cows MUST calve every year! No commercial operation can afford to run dry cows, so why do studs do it? A wet/dry cow is given one chance in her life time. We believe there is no reason why a cow should not be producing a minimum of ten calves in her lifetime.
Cow longevity is directly linked to bull reliability, which is sadly been lacking in Angus Bulls in recent times in New Zealand. There is no such trouble with Taimate bulls.
Our policy of feeding the animals what the season gives, with no irrigation or hard feeding allows the stock to grow out naturally. This combined with traditional type animals, genetics and good stockmanship leaves the bulls with the constitution to adjust to just about any farm environment.
I am the stock manager and stud principal here at Taimate. I am married to Nadine and we have four children. I am the fourth boy in my family and have a younger sister.
Farming has always been my life and taking over the management of the Taimate Angus Stud was very much a natural progression for me after spending my entire early life in and around, living and breathing the stud stock industry, both sheep and beef. It had been a long time aim of mine to take over and increase the number of stud cattle to where it is today and beyond. Angus cattle are something I am very passionate about.
In my younger years after school in Christchurch, I was awarded a scholarship to Dublin, Ireland for a year, where I also got to travel throughout Europe. I have been fortunate enough to have also made a few other over seas trips, including a stint in South America and a rugby season spent in Texas.
School, aside from sport, I almost regarded as a barrier to farming, such was my enthusiasm to get back to Taimate. In 1999, when I did return home I was able to combine my two passions of sport and farming perfectly, with rugby, cricket and a keen interest in horse racing getting a lot of attention. In 2002 I played rep rugby for Marlborough at Hooker, but due to a run of injuries I have hardly been able to play any sport since, with the odd return to the footy field marred by yet more breakdowns! After ending up in a hospital bed for a week in Wellington in July 2014 with a shattered face and eating through a straw until close to Christmas, I think that may well be it for the rugby career.With the family growing up fast and showing real interest in all aspects of farming life I’m looking forward to seeing what the future may hold. One things for sure- Angus cattle will always be centre stage.
Progression is always being made at Taimate, and following in my Grandfather's footsteps I am now on the Board of Angus NZ.
This is a role which I take very seriously and at the forefront of my mind is the need to do my best for the betterment of all Angus NZ members.
I am the Vineyard manager within Taimate. I am married to Andrea and we have three children, Jordan, Holly and Tia.
I have a degree in agricultural commerce and a graduate diploma in marketing from Lincoln and Otago universities respectively. I have several years experience within the agricultural and horticultural industries and have spent two years working in the finance sector in the United Kingdom
In 2006 11 hectares of vineyard was planted with Sauvignon Blanc clones and we have since had two harvests of high quality Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc fruit. We are looking to expand our current vineyard operation and are also keen on future plantings of Pinot Noir and possibly Riesling. The diversification into grape growing has been a large learning curve but a very enjoyable one. Of particular enjoyment has been learning the art of drip irrigation which is a new tool in the Taimate farming business.
I am on the committee of the Flaxbourne Community Irrigation Group which is in the process of bringing water from two local rivers to irrigate up to 2500 hectares of this dry east coast land and am also on the local rugby committee after finishing playing in 2006.
My sporting interest is now squash which I play on a regular basis and other hobbies include photography and anything to do with the sea. I also enjoy beating my baby brother Paul regularly in poker.
The Angus stud is a proud part of our family and farming history and it is something I like to help out with whenever I can. The annual Bull Sale Catalogue Is also a responsibility of mine, managing the compilation through to publication, however if there are ever any errors I will blame it on Paul or my Father.
"Farming predominately Marlborough hill country we need bulls that will handle these conditions.
Taimate bulls are solid built bulls, built to climb to the top of the blocks, shift well with the ability to hold condition in the dry and have longevity. I have brought bulls from Taimate stud over the last eight years and have not had a bull breakdown.
We now produce a calf that is more compact and heavier at weaning. With calves sold at weaning this is a great improvement for us. Farming predominately Marlborough hill country we need bulls that will handle these conditions."
Simon Ryan. High Country Farmer. Wairau Valley, Marlborough
"We have used Taimate Bulls at Flaxbourne Station for the last three years. These bulls have excellent temperament which is showing through in the young stock.
Taimate Bulls are bred and reared in a difficult environment and shift well.
The stud is based on more traditional lines showing great soundness, constitution and temperament, a result of good breeding and rigorous selection criteria.
The stock at Taimate are a credit to Ossie, Paul and all the Hickman team."
G & C Whitehead. Managers, Flaxbourne Station, Marlborough