Bull farmers keep tight reins on NAIT obligations

Date 1 September 2020

Taranaki bull farmers Fiona Howatson and Niels Hansen employ a firm and orderly approach when it comes to meeting their NAIT obligations.

How many NAIT locations do you have?

We have three farms under two NAIT location numbers. We have one NAIT location number for our stock and another for dairy stock that we graze May to May. Our main farm is at Huiroa and the others are located around 6 kms away at Matau and combined they comprise about 960 effective hectares.

What is your farm operation?

We’re primarily bull farmers. We usually fatten around 800 bulls as well as some steers. About 170 of these bulls are sold as service bulls to the dairy industry. We also fatten around 100 Firstlight Wagyu heifers and steers and have about 800 dairy grazers. There are approximately 2000 ewes and we fatten all our lambs.

Do you have a specific source for buying bulls?

The Jersey bulls are sourced through trusted livestock agents. We insist the calves are fed on milk powder and come from properties that prioritise on-farm

biosecurity. The Friesian bulls we buy are local or from neighbouring provinces and brokered through a long-standing livestock agent.

When do you start buying bulls?

From July, we’ll buy in autumn born Jersey calves and Friesian yearlings.

When do you sell or send bulls off-farm?

From the end of September, and through October and November we sell service bulls to dairy farmers. We use the same livestock agents that we bought the bulls from to manage this trading. That way, there is more certainty for all parties about the bulls’ history. We also supply graziers with bulls for their heifers on our property, in order to minimise the risk of incoming service bulls.

Do you lease service bulls?
Not often. Sometimes we’ll provide to family who has grazing clients and the bulls usually come back late December.

How do you stay on top of your NAIT obligations?

Niels is out on the farm, so I look after NAIT registration and movements. Our policy is to scan everything that comes on and off-farm with a hand-held reader. It might seem like overkill, but it does protect you. I have records dating back to 2014 and keep a written stock diary with all confirmed movements and their NAIT location numbers and can match this with the Animal Status Declaration(ASD) forms. It can be a challenge meeting the 48-hour timeframe for recording movements in NAIT but I always make a point of ensuring this happens. 

Do you use an information provider for your NAIT account?

No. I did use stock agents before, but as a farmer, it’s my legal obligation at the end of the day and I prefer to do the movements myself in NAIT. I do both the receiving and sending movements for the dairy graziers and ask our clients to confirm the movements in NAIT.

Is tag retention a problem?

Not really, when it is, we have a process to ensure the animal is retagged and the number captured in NAIT. Whoever replaces a lost tag takes a photo of the new tag they are using and shares it on one of our Facebook Messenger Group Chats. This way, I can register the new NAIT tag number or match the existing birth tag number in our NAIT account.

What do you do with bulls ‘unsafe to tag’?

We’re fortunate that we don’t usually have this problem, If you do have an unsafe to tag bull, don’t hesitate to send it to the works, mark the animal clearly and remember to declare the animal in NAIT by creating an ‘exempt movement’ in your NAIT account.

More information on Bulls and NAIT here

Bulls Checklist

Fiona Howatson and Niels Hansen website2

Niels Hansen and Fiona Howatson