Taranaki school students to feature on television programme Country Calendar

Posted by on 10 September 2019 | Comments

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A national education programme inspiring students about opportunities in the food and fibre sector is set to feature on Country Calendar.

A crew from the high-rating television show has spent five days in Taranaki filming an episode on Sarah and Jarred Coogan and Bryan and Helen Hocken.

The award-winning team co-own a 465-hectare sheep and beef farm which is nestled in the rugged hills of Tarata, northeast of Stratford.

Sarah and Jarred are active ambassadors of the agri-food sector and host school visits as part of a project run by NZ Young Farmers.

Nineteen Year 7 science students from Sacred Heart Girls’ College in New Plymouth visited the farm last month, during lambing.

“We are expecting 234 sets of triplets this spring,” Sarah told students, who were leaning on a fence watching ewes feed newborn lambs.

A long pole with a fluffy microphone dangled above the group, and a camera was pointed at Sarah as a Country Calendar crew filmed the visit.

Excited students asked questions about breeds of sheep, stocking rate, animal husbandry, management practices and profitability.

“A lot of these girls have never been to a farm before, which I found surprising for Taranaki,” said the school’s head of science Jeremy Taylor.

Jarred used two dogs to muster sheep and bulls before showing students a gully which has been replanted with native trees.

“Watching Jarred use George and Jake to muster the sheep was so interesting,” said 11-year-old student Olivia Atherton.

“A well-trained working dog is extremely useful when getting sheep off steep hills. We learned some working dogs can reach speeds of up to 50kms/hour when they run.”

The farm runs 2,340 mainly Romney breeding ewes, 690 hoggets and is expecting 3,800 lambs to be born this year.

A highlight of the trip for all the girls was getting to bottle feed orphaned lambs inside the farm’s unique woolshed.

“My dad Bryan checks the ewes we know are going to be having triplets twice a day. Any orphaned lambs are brought back here,” Sarah told the group.

“The lambs are given five small feeds of milk a day in their first four days.”

Students tested the milk’s temperature by squirting a drop on their wrist, before feeding the waiting lambs.

“Feeding the lambs was so much fun. I’m considering becoming a farmer or training as a scientist so I can help farmers,” said 11-year-old Izy Bromell.

The field trip is part of free learning resources the school has downloaded from the Agrication website, which is run by NZ Young Farmers and funded by the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP).

“We probably wouldn’t have studied the unit if a farm visit wasn’t part of it,” said Jeremy.

“It can be hard for busy teachers with no rural connections to find a farmer who’s willing to host a school visit.”

“Having everything organised for us, including the bus, has been amazing. We’re really lucky to be given this opportunity,” said Jeremy.

The episode of Country Calendar featuring the Coogan’s and Hocken’s is scheduled to be broadcast on TVNZ 1 in early November.