About Mt Somers Station
Mt Somers Station is the family property of David and Kate Acland, together they run the 3800ha farm. The property runs from the Ashburton River at an altitude of 400m to the boundary of the Conservation park at the base of the Mountain, an altitude of 700m.
Mt Somers Station runs over 13,000 breeding sheep, 3000 Deer, 1300 Dairy Cows and 200 head of Beef Cattle. The property also includes 500ha of Native vegetation and Beech forest which has been retired from grazing, this vegetation provides ample food source for the 400 hives we have on the property producing Manuka and Honeydew honey’s in addition to the clover honey produced from the lower terraces. The Station has 12 full time staff, most of whom live on the property.
David’s great great Grandfather JBA Acland originally took up Mt Somers Station and a number of other Canterbury runs in 1856 with his business partner Charles Tripp. In 1861 they dissolved the partnership with Acland retaining Mt Peel Station to the south and Tripp taking Orari Gorge and Mt Somers Stations. The families of Acland and Tripp have farmed Mt Peel and Orari Gorge Stations since this time, however Mt Somers Station was sold in 1862 to Tripp’s brother-in-law Charles Cox.
The Station was sold to Cox’s nephew A.E. Peache in 1876. It was Peache who constructed the first Lime quarry at Mt Somers and his works that saw Mt Somers limestone blocks used in the building of the Melbourne Cathedral and Christchurch Cathedrals.
Peache died at the relatively early age of 52 in 1900, his wife remained on the Station until a few weeks before her death at the age of 90 in 1949. More than a century of family association with Mt Somers Station ended when it was sold in 1968 to Burnett Motors for sum 260,000pounds. At the time the station carried 13,304 sheep and 457 cattle.
The Station originally included almost the entire of Mount Somers and bounded the Staveley Bush, however in the 1970’s the lease on the majority of the Bush and mountainous area was retired and the land became part of the national conservation estate.
Robert (Bob) Burnett sold two-thirds of Mt Somers Station to David’s parents Mark and Jo Acland in 1983, the family moved from Mt Peel Station where Mark had been farming in partnership with his brother. The property was relatively underdeveloped with limited housing and no deer fencing. Mark undertook a massive development program and the first deer were bought to the property in August 1983 at a time when Deer farming in NZ was in it’s infancy. Mark and Jo purchased the remainder of the Station in 2002 from the Burnett Estate, the same year David returned home to the Station.
Each year on Mt Somers Station around 15,000 lambs are born. All sheep remain outside on predominantly grass pastures for the entirety of their lives. Lambs remain with their mother for 2-3 months before they are weaned and grown out for market.
The bulk of Mt Somers Station lamb is supplied for export with the largest markets for NZ lamb being the UK and China
The Sheep are shorn twice a year and the wool is used for carpets and heavier textiles. In cooler seasons we shear using a cover comb, an attachment on the shearing blade that leaves a layer of approximately 1cm of wool against the skin so sheep aren’t too sensitive to cold.
Our sheep flock is Romney, a hardy breed that copes well with the high rainfall in the area while still having fast growing offspring.
Our Deer flock are English Red Deer however we use an Elk and composite sire to produce offspring that are of mixed breed. The deer are run on the rolling downs of the Station for most of the year, they fawn in November and the fawns remain with their mothers for 3-4 months.
The foundation of our herd was captured in the 1970’s and early 80’s from the wild deer populations spread between Mt Somers and Orari Gorge stations with Mark Acland being one of the early pioneers of Deer farming in New Zealand.
Each year we use Beef genetics across a large number of our Dairy herd, the offspring are a Hereford-Fresian cross which we hand rear. Calves are kept in large open barns for up to 12 weeks with gradual access to the outdoors introduced over this time.
Our Beef cattle are grown on pasture and fodder crops for around 18 months until they reach weights of around 500kg.
We have a milking herd of 850-900 cows, which are “kiwi cross”, a mixture of Fresian and Jersey.
Our entire farm is unirrigated meaning we have a lower stocking intensity, running around 2.6 cows per hectare. We aim to farm with minimal impact on our surrounds, with cows excluded from all of the waterways on the farm and extensive native planting initiatives underway