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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 11 (June 1, 1930)

The North Island East Coast Railway — Heavy Stock Traffic

The North Island East Coast Railway
Heavy Stock Traffic.

The seasonal movement of breeding ewes from Poverty Bay and Hawke's Bay is now at its height, and the Taneatua railway has become the principal source of communication between these districts and the Waikato (says the New Zealand Herald). Although eminently suitable for breeding purposes the East Coast areas do not offer the facilities for fattening which exist in the Waikato. It is the practice every year to drive or transport large numbers of Romney ewes to the Waikato, principally for the purpose of crossing with Southdown rams. The fattening of lambs for the export trade is not carried out to a very large extent in the Poverty Bay and Hawke's Bay districts and every year there is a surplus of breeding ewes, which requires to be moved to other areas. These ewes range from two-tooth ewes to aged ewes.

In the past it has been the practice either to drive the ewes overland or to forward them by steamer. The extension of the East Coast railway to Taneatua has resulted in the patronage of the railway for this purpose. Formerly much of this stock would be taken on the Gisborne railway as far as Motuhora and from there driven overland to Rotorua and other districts. The driving of stock overland did not improve the condition of the animals, while it was a more costly business than transport by rail. The railway now takes the stock from Taneatua over the Thames line and even as far as Tirau on the Rotorua line.

Use was made of the railway line last year, but this season has seen far greater movements of stock. First consignments were handled about the beginning of February and there will be continual movement until the end of March. Special trains have been leaving Taneatua with as many as 3,500 sheep a trip. It is estimated that from 60,000 to 80,000 sheep have already passed through.