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Farmer profile: Mitch & Charlotte Taylor, Morelea Farm, Fairlie

Mitch and Charlotte Taylor farm the 300-hectare Morelea Farm at Fairlie. It’s the farm where Mitch grew up and where they finished their first season of TE MANA lambs this year. “I’m passionate about the sheep industry and I feel it does need to change to remain profitable,” says Mitch. “You can’t keep doing the same old thing and expect things to improve. I appreciated that The Omega Lamb Project was an example of the industry doing something different. We had to make some changes on farm – plant the special chicory crops for the TE MANA lambs and upgrade some technology – but neither was difficult. All the lambs in the programme have electronic identification tags so they have traceability all the way through from when they are born.” Mitch says the most noticeable difference in the 2,500 TE MANA lambs they finished in 2016 was the higher growth rates in high summer – and the taste. This year they are planning to finish 4,000. “We’re committed to the programme. Last season, we put in 30 hectares of chicory and this year we are increasing that to 50 hectares.” People’s views around food have changed, says Mitch. “They want to know where their food is coming from and how it has been raised. If they have disposable income, they are happy to pay extra for a superior product which is traceable right through the food chain.” Aimee Charteris, Farm Programme Manager for The Omega Lamb Project Primary Growth Partnership programme, said the Taylor’s had grasped the technical aspects of the programme very quickly and their systems were exceptional. “They were dream candidates,” says Aimee. “They are friendly and easy-going and they began achieving results incredibly fast. There are lots of different aspects to the programme and some people can find the technical part a challenge. But Mitch was very quick with adoption of the technology.” The Taylors operationally were very smart the way they managed the finishing programme, from entering lambs into the unit, through weighing and collection of information to exiting lambs for slaughter, she says. “It was all very streamlined, with the required details provided. Their results speak for themselves.”